Jen Glantz, a South Florida native, posted an ad on Craigslist two years ago that completely changed her life.
It was a lonely Friday night during the month of July after a bad date in New York. No, this isn’t the opening script to an episode of “Sex and the City.” Instead, this is the beginning to a plot twist that changed Jen Glantz’s career.
The then copy editor for a startup tech company was feeling down when she got home to her one-bedroom apartment, shared by two, where she bunked in the living room using a pantry as a closet. So, she decided to break the No. 1 rule her mother made when she was growing up—she got on Craigslist.
“I said, ‘You know what? There’s this idea in my head and I’m going to do it.’ And I put [the idea] on Craigslist, closed the computer, went to sleep, didn’t tell a soul, and two days later after that, my entire life flipped,” Glantz says.
She’s animated with wide eyes and hand gestures when she gets to this part of the story. She’s sitting at a booth that could belong to an old-timey diner, except it’s plopped at a Boca Raton library in a fishbowl playroom. It’s the only place where you can converse without getting dirty looks at the otherwise mute facility. In Glantz’s purse are three books she’s checked out to read during her visit in South Florida, where she grew up and where her parents call home.
Glantz splits her time between the north and south, which is OK considering now she’s her own boss. Her company, Bridesmaid for Hire, got its start two years ago from a Craigslist ad, but the 28-year-old explains that it really began about four years ago when all of her friends were getting married.
“I got one phone call and one in-person coffee date with two girls in one day who asked me to be bridesmaids,” she says. “Why it was weird was because we weren’t that good of friends, and I started to think to myself, ‘You know, are people asking me because I’ve done it so many times?’”
When she got home, Glantz told her roommate, who said, “You are a professional bridesmaid.” That was the seed.
But Glantz didn’t plant it, of course, until that lonely Friday night during the month of July after a bad date in New York. She typed a post, offering herself up as a “Professional Bridesmaid,” with services like, “Holding up the 18 layers of your dress so that you can pee with ease on your wedding day,” and “Doing the electric and the cha cha slide.” She didn’t think about the ad again until Monday, when her friend sent her the link to a BuzzFeed article.
“She was like, ‘You have to see this article about this girl who posted an ad on Craigslist to be a bridesmaid.’ And I’m like—because it didn’t have my name—‘Oh my god, that’s me.’ And she was like, ‘Yeah I know that’s you!’ And I was like, ‘No, no, no, like, I did that,’” Glantz says.
For the next week, Glantz put every free minute she had into turning a spur-of-the-moment pitch into the viable business. Through the company, she offers six packages, in addition to itinerary-making and speech-writing services. Packages range from “Virtual Bridesmaid,” with over-the-phone or video sessions to “Ultimate Bridesmaid,” with in-person pre-wedding and day-of support.
While these services may seem tame, Glantz has found herself in surprising to uncomfortable situations.
“I’ve touched poison ivy for a bride because she wanted a picture somewhere,” she begins. “I’ve taken off my bra and given it to a mother of the bride because she forgot hers. … I’ve been the person that the bride calls the night before and says, ‘I don’t want to get married.’ … I mean you just become more than someone that was hired. You become a part of their life.”
In just the last year, Glantz has played a role in the lives of more than 40 brides, bridesmaids and maids of honors. She also maintains her personal blog, The Things I Learned From, and is working on her second book, Always a Bridesmaid for Hire, which she hopes to release in 2017. It follows her first book, All My Friends Are Engaged, which released in 2013. When asked if she’ll become a “bridesmatron” anytime soon, the answer is likely no. And her reason is humorous.
“I was never the kind of girl who imagined a wedding of [her] own, you know, middle school sleepovers when girls are like, ‘I want this kind of dress and this ring.’ I was like, ‘What? I want pizza and someone I love,’” she says. “I hate weddings and everything about them, but that has nothing to do with the business because my business is people. It just happens to be in a wedding setting.”