I'm a professional bridesmaid at strangers' weddings. My rates start at $2,000 — here's how I decided how much to charge.

Jen GlantzJen Glantz is an entrepreneur and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire.
  • Jen Glantz is an entrepreneur and founder of the company Bridesmaid for Hire, for which she works as a professional bridesmaid in the weddings of complete strangers.
  • When she first began her out-of-the-box business, Glantz struggled to figure out how much she should charge clients for her services.
  • After studying the rates of other industry professionals like wedding planners and coordinators, Glantz started off charging a base price of around $US2,000 for eight hours of wedding support and three pre-wedding meetings.
  • Some clients want more access to her, so Glantz also offers a-la-carte pricing for one-off events like a bachelorette party or bridal shower.
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When I first started my business, Bridesmaid for Hire, almost six years ago, I told people the service was free. I was starting a business around the idea that strangers could hire me to be their bridesmaid. I wanted to be there as a person’s support system during what always turns out to be a stressful and anxiety-filled day. I didn’t even think about putting a price tag on that offering.

But a week into starting the business, when hundreds of requests from people all around the world entered my inbox due to an ad I’d posted on Craigslist that went viral, I realised not only was this an in-demand service, but it was one that I should charge people for.

After learning more about the backstory of why these people wanted to hire me, I realised that a lot of work, energy, and hours would have to go toward working with each client.

For starters, there was the time spent before the wedding getting to know the person and working through all their challenges and wedding problems. It wasn’t just going to be one phone call. I had a feeling it would be closer to 20 phone calls, with sporadic text messages. If the client lived near me in New York City, there would be plenty of in-person meetings, both at coffee shops and also to help them run wedding errands. All of the planning around what my core offerings were going to be made me realise that this would be an expensive service. It would cost, at least, a few thousand dollars.

Still unsure of how much to charge, I dove into a few different strategies and made mistakes along the way before eventually coming up with a good system. Here’s how I decided how much to charge my clients who were hiring me as their professional bridesmaid.

I studied wedding planners.

I’d never started a business before and had no formal training in branding and pricing. I was a poetry major in college who’d spent years working different copywriting jobs before starting Bridesmaid for Hire.

But one of the most helpful things I did, before formally launching the business, was take a close look at how wedding planners and day-of coordinators price out their packages. While I was offering a very different service than those two wedding vendors, I felt the way they structured their packages could be something off which I modelled mine.

A basic package with a wedding planner will include a set fee for them to be at the wedding for a certain number of hours and a set amount of pre-wedding meetings. I decided to follow that model.

I started off charging a base price of around $US2,000 for eight hours of wedding support and three pre-wedding meetings. Travel, accommodations, and my bridesmaid dress – which is picked out for me and ordered by the bride – cost extra, and have ranged from $US425 for a wedding in Washington D.C. to $US750 for a destination wedding in the Bahamas.

I made mistakes.

Even though I’d created packages that included a set number of pre-wedding meetings or phone sessions, the people hiring me would still often call whenever they wanted, text me late at night, or send very long emails that took me 10 minutes to read, and longer to respond to.

I quickly realised, a few months in and a handful of weddings under my belt, that I needed boundaries and more structure.

I created add-ons to the packages so that if a person wanted the full-service, round-the-clock support before their wedding (meaning text, call, or email whenever they’d want) it would cost an additional $US1,000 or more, depending on how many extra phone sessions they wanted. This was added on to the $US2,000 base price.

I also added a-la-carte options, like one-off phone sessions (starting at $US200 for a one-hour session) or support for additional wedding functions, like a bachelorette party, bridal shower, or rehearsal dinner (which start at around $US500 per event).

This was tough because usually when people hire me, they feel they’re hiring a friend who they can reach out to at any time. I realised I couldn’t let that happen or my whole life would be responding to people getting married – and I wouldn’t be making enough money from this business.

I learned from my clients.

Since the business is so unusual and out-of-the box, I learned that when clients had unusual requests – whether it was to write their vows for them, go see a movie with them midday to get their mind off stress, etc. – that I would find ways to try to accommodate those requests, with a price tag. I would calculate how many hours of work it would be and charge them that way.

Mostly, I learned in a business like this, you have to stay flexible because when you’re faced with weird requests or friend-like communication (constant texts and emails) you have to work out a price that’s never one-size-fits-all.

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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