Life & Culture

Weddings are her business...

Jen Glantz's story, if it weren't already for the film 27 Dresses, could be a Hollywood movie.


Jen Glantz's story, if it weren't already for the film 27 Dresses, could be a Hollywood movie. Here's what's known as the elevator pitch in Entertainment Central: nice single New Yorker has a circle of friends, friends keep getting married, and not only does our heroine keep going to wedding after wedding, but she needs a new crowd of like-minded singles to hang out with.

And then - we are still in the elevator, by the way - darn it all, but the new friends insist on getting married, too.

And Jen Glantz, by this time, has been "a perpetual bridesmaid", shimmying in the multicoloured chiffon for wedding after wedding.

So when her copywriting job ended and the inventive Glantz was looking for something else to do, she had an epiphany - if nice Jewish girls can have such things. Why shouldn't she make money out of the wedding scene? What the world needed, reasoned Glantz, was a professional bridesmaid.

And thus, after she posted a remarkable advert on the internet site, Craigslist, her company, Bridesmaid for Hire, was born.

The only guys who hit on me are drunk uncles

Glantz, as a veteran of dozens of weddings, knew all the pitfalls. A professional bridesmaid, she said, could be a personal assistant, a peacemaker, or a therapist. Four hundred and fifty-nine enthusiastic emails later - in the space of five days after the Craigslist ad - and Glantz was en route to offer a calm and organised hand to her first bride. Ashley, the woman in question, had had to dispense with her maid of honour after the one-time best friend refused to return phone calls once Ashley had got engaged.

Glantz, 28, was brought up in Boca Raton, Florida, and was fiercely Jewish, attending a Jewish day school and celebrating her bat mitzvah.

"Of course, the first handful of weddings I attended when my friends began to get married were Jewish weddings," says the relentlessly positive Glantz, and it is that experience she brings to bear when as Bridesmaid for Hire, she becomes the bride's new best friend for the day.

But, latterly, many of the weddings where she's been the bride's new best friend have been Catholic nuptials - or, this being New York, weddings of Jews and non-Jews, where both traditions are drawn on.

"The challenges are pretty much the same", says Glantz, whichever kind of wedding she is working at. What she does find, however, is a tendency to personalise the ceremony, so a traditional chupah with seven blessings may be shortened as the bride and groom put their own spin on the event.

Two traditions that tend to stay are glass-stamping - even in the mixed marriages - "because people love it and what it represents, and it's fun" - and in Jewish weddings the bride's seven circuits around the groom under the chupah.

"I did a Jewish wedding a couple of months ago where the bride was circling around the group and some little kids near the front wanted to say hallo to her, so that all got rather interrupted and the bride lost count of how many times she'd been round." At another chupah, an alarmed Glantz realised that the bride had gone round so fast that she was dizzy - and almost passed out.

Glantz is often asked, she admits, how realistic is the hit film, Bridesmaids, in which many women behave very badly. Laughing, she says: "There's a lot of truth in the film, because wedding days can be very dramatic."

Glantz herself, a veteran of JDate - at one point, she acknowledges, her mother signed up for her - is a fan of marriage, but not of weddings.

Her ambition, she says, is to create a wedding for less than $1,000 - "because if a wedding costs $10,000 then all you do during the day is stress that everything has to be perfect".

Glantz's own wedding, if it ever happens, will be in a large field with takeaway pizza on tap - and the "if it ever happens" is well-founded, although she does have a boyfriend.

For she reveals a horrid truth: there are very few single people at weddings and the chances of meeting an eligible guy are low. Despite her mother's ambitions for her, she says "the only guys that hit on me are the drunk, older uncles."

I raise the possibility that they, too, like her, might be professionals. Glantz laughs. "I wouldn't rule anything out," she says.

Next weekend, she's off bridesmaiding again, this time for a woman whose batmitzvah went so horribly wrong that her mother hired Glantz to ensure that the wedding went smoothly.

When Jews hire her, she says, "it's easier, because we just get it. I am so proud of being Jewish and I want to celebrate my Jewish identity."

And, now, because she can't do every wedding herself, Glantz is looking for staff. So far 10,000 women have applied to be, like her, a professional bridesmaid.

This is probably because we all know weddings are actually hell - so why not make money out of them?

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