- Jen Glantz has worked as a professional bridesmaid for six years, participating in the weddings of total strangers and getting paid, sometimes up to $US2,500 per gig.
- Though she’s hired to play a bride’s pal for the day, she often has to navigate tricky post-wedding expectations that her clients have of their relationship.
- Glantz says some brides don’t want to talk to her after the wedding, and some she chooses not to speak to again. But others have become her good friends.
- It’s all about chemistry – and when she gets married in 2021, Glantz will invite some of her clients-turned-real-friends to her own wedding.
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When I first started my business, Bridesmaid for Hire, almost six years ago, I didn’t realise what I was truly getting myself into. The business was created after most of my own close friends had gotten married, and I’d became the perpetual bridesmaid, and did my duties well – so well, in fact, that distant friends asked me to take on the role for them, which made me flirt with the question, “If I can be a great bridesmaid for people I’m hardly friends with anymore, couldn’t I get paid to do it for strangers?”
Six years later, that idea has flourished as a business and has made me an undercover member of bridal parties all over the country. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients, seen all kinds of drama, and experienced so many different personality types.
But the main service I offer, at its core, is supportive friendship to a person getting married. And one of the lessons I’ve had to learn the hard way in this unique business is what I should do when the wedding ends.
How do I let the client know the gig is over and so is our relationship?
How do I ask a client to stay friends even after my bridesmaid dress for that wedding is retired? What do I do when a client tells me they don’t want to be my friend, but I imagined having a real-life friendship with them?
Those are the real questions I face on a weekly basis, and have had to find different ways to handle.
If you’ve ever wondered how my business works in the sense of staying friends with people after our contract ends, here are the four main scenarios I’ve come across, and how I’ve dealt with them.
In some cases, a continued friendship isn’t possible
One part of my job that makes a post-wedding friendship complicated is that when some clients hire me, I have a fake identity. We decide on a fake name and back story so that nobody in their life (including their fiancé) will know that they hired me. Because of that, seeing them when the wedding ends can be a bit complicated because I’d have to still take on that fake identity.
Pretending to be someone else is easy at a wedding, because there’s a lot going on around you that can serve as easy distractions when people start to make small talk or ask questions. If someone asks me how I know the bride, I share a prepared, one-sentence answer and change the subject to ask if they know if the bar is open yet or if they have tried the shrimp appetizer. In real life, that might be more difficult.
In those situations, where my identity is fabricated, the person hiring me usually has the expectation that after the wedding, I will disappear and we won’t talk again. Rarely, in those cases, will the bride or groom reach out to catch up in the future. But it has happened a few times, and we’ll usually just have a quick chat over text.
Sometimes, I just don’t want to be their friend.
Just like at any job, there are people you work with that you adore, and people you work with that you don’t want to be friends with outside of work. Some clients are just not people I’d be friends with in real life, and usually that’s because their personality or negative character traits don’t align with my personal values.
When this happens and they do reach out post-wedding, I usually let them know that I’m glad we had the chance to work together, but I’m not interested in continuing the friendship. I keep it professional and am genuinely kind to them during the job and afterward. I just don’t accept extended invitations to remain friends when I know that person isn’t someone I necessarily want to be around for fun.
Most of the time, we stay in touch occasionally
The most common scenario is that when the wedding ends, the person who hired me stays an acquaintance, which means that we catch up occasionally over the phone but don’t get together and hang out. Sometimes we do cross paths again and see each other at events around New York City, and we say hello and chat in-person.
To some people, this part sounds weird because I was hired to be there for them on their big day and am in their wedding pictures. But it’s part of the job to leave most of the relationship behind at the wedding. That’s why in most cases, I do stay friendly with my clients, but not at a level where we meet up or talk constantly.
Now and then, we stay good friends
Out of the 50+ clients I work with every year, I stay good friends with around three to four of them. These are the people that when the wedding ends, I’m eager to ask them if they want to hang out afterward. Sometimes I ask and they decline, but occasionally some do say yes and we become good friends. It does get complicated for the brides who hired me under a false identity, and in those cases we usually just hang out one on one. But for the ones who were open and honest about hiring me, our friendship has evolved into nights out and special occasions spent together as real friends.
I’m planning on getting married in 2021 and will invite some of those people to my own wedding. I’m excited to bring the best part of my job full-circle, and invite those people who were once strangers to join in celebrating my own big day.
Jen Glantz is the founder of the viral business Bridesmaid for Hire, the creator of the project Finally the Bride, the voice of the podcast “You’re Not Getting Any Younger,” and the author of the Amazon-bestselling books “All My Friends are Engaged” and “Always a Bridesmaid for Hire,” published by Simon and Schuster.
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