I'm a professional bridesmaid who attends the weddings of total strangers. Here are some of the wildest things I've had to do to get my paycheck.
Jen Glantz has worked as a hired bridesmaid at strangers' weddings for more than six years and has seen every wedding fiasco imaginable. She says she's dealt with dozens of weird requests, from helping a bride run away at last minute to reviving a hungover groom and preventing an ex-girlfriend from crashing the reception. Glantz explains that working as a professional bridesmaid means having to expect the unexpected, since every wedding is unique and challenging in its own way. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
When I started my company, Bridesmaid for Hire, I knew there would be some unusual clients and out of the box situations that I'd find myself in. People usually hire me because they fell out of touch with their close friends and need a support system, or they need a professional who can step in and crisis-manage a group of rowdy bridesmaids. But in the last six years of working as a professional bridesmaid, I've started to collect a long list of unusual requests people have asked of me on-the-job that I never would have expected. Here are some of the strangest things I've had to do to get my paycheck. 1. End the engagement A few years into the job, a bride asked if she could hire me for just one vent session (which is where I spend an hour helping the person getting married feel less stressed by all their wedding drama and challenges). Most people book a handful of these sessions but this bride wanted just one. When I met her in person, she instantly got to the point of why she hired me. She said she didn't hire me to be her bridesmaid. She hired me to help her end her engagement. She realized she was not in love with the groom and didn't want to spend her life, let alone another week, with him. She didn't have anyone in her life she could turn to for an escape plan because she feared they'd judge her and make her reconsider. I wasn't in the business of ending weddings, but I was in the business of being that unbiased support system for people. We spent our session figuring out a plan for her to speak to her fiance to call the wedding off, a place where she could immediately move out to and stay, and what her next steps would look like. I wish I could say that's happened once. But in my six years of doing this job, it's actually happened more than a handful of times. 2. Pick up poop One of the grossest things I had to do at a wedding was scoop up animal poop with my bare hands. Minutes before an outdoor wedding in Nevada, the bride noticed that a donkey had pooped all up and down the aisle. She didn't want to walk down it because her white dress (that cost $4,000) would be ruined. She told me I had to go deal with it. I looked around for napkins, leaves, anything I could use to help remove the animal droppings but there was nothing. I picked it up with my hands, moved it to the side, poured water on my palms, and walked down the aisle with the rest of the wedding party as if nothing happened. 3. Escape the wedding One thing I learned during the first few months of working as a hired bridesmaid was that getting cold feet is very real, and sometimes it happens at the very last minute. At one wedding, a bride pulled me aside five minutes before the ceremony to tell me she didn't love the groom and wanted to end the wedding now. The guests were seated and the ceremony was about to begin. I devised an exit plan for her (it included calling a taxi, sneaking out the back door, and handing her a change of clothes so she wouldn't look like a runaway bride). Julia Roberts pulling that move at her fictional wedding isn't just something for the movies. It happens in real life too. 4. Be a bodyguard One of the most popular requests I get at weddings is to be a bodyguard, on watch for potential wedding crashers. Usually, these wedding crashers are people the couple knows and purposely didn't invite. At one wedding, a groom slipped me a $100 bill and told me to make sure his ex-girlfriend was stopped as soon as she arrived. He was certain she'd come crash the wedding and cause a scene. I devised a plan with the valet and was able to intercept and greet her as she pulled up. Through some convincing and a finger point to where the security guard was waiting for her inside, she turned her car around and went home. 5. Help the bride use the bathroom Before I worked this job, I had no idea how hard it was for a bride to use the bathroom in her wedding dress. But it soon became one of my wedding tasks. It's an intimate and awkward thing to help a near stranger with, but I've become good at holding up the wedding dress, positioning the bride on the toilet (facing the wall so the dress doesn't fall in the toilet), turning my head and standing there silently as she pees. Often, if they get too nervous to pee, I'll sing a song or turn the sink water on. Whatever it takes to help them use the bathroom three to five times on their wedding day. 6. Find a missing groom One of the most comforting feelings for me at a wedding is when the two people who are getting married actually show up. At one wedding, the groom went missing and wasn't at the venue when he was supposed to be. An hour went by and he wasn't answering his phone or text messages. It was my job to find him. After bribing the best man with a bottle of tequila and borrowing a guest's car, I was able to find the groom back at the hotel, hungover and disoriented. I had to get him back to feeling good (so I fed him and gave him a bottle of Gatorade) and brought him to the venue. The bride was upset (but happy with me) and the wedding started almost two hours late. Part of working as a bridesmaid for hire is that you have to be ready for the twists and turns that come with any wedding, and the distinct cast of characters who are a part of it. While some of these experiences have been unusual, they've all made me a stronger, better professional bridesmaid.SEE ALSO: I'm a professional bridesmaid who charges at least $2,000 per wedding — here's how I went about setting my rates Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Here's what it's like to travel during the coronavirus outbreak
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5 steps I took to grow my idea of being a professional bridesmaid into a full-time job and successful business
Summary List Placement I first got the idea to start a company called Bridesmaid for Hire...Summary List Placement I first got the idea to start a company called Bridesmaid for Hire after I'd been a bridesmaid at over a dozen of my friend's weddings. One night, two distant friends called me up and asked me to be their bridesmaid, and I thought to myself, " Jen! You hardly speak to these people. This should be a job! You should get paid." I acted on that idea shortly after, posting an ad on Craigslist offering my services to strangers as their hired bridesmaid for the day. I knew the idea was worthy of a full business plan because so many people vented about how their friends just couldn't be the support system they needed on their wedding day. Other people said they didn't have a lineup of people to pick from them, and had to ask distant relatives or friends they hadn't spoken to in years. After I started the business, so many people told me they thought of this idea years ago, but never acted on it. And while having a business idea is great, it doesn't mean much if you don't act on it. I did, and turned my idea into a business that's serviced hundreds of clients over the years. Here's the five steps I took. First, I tested the idea with an audience Once the idea popped into my head, I acted instantly. I knew if I asked people in my life what they thought about me starting a business where strangers could hire me to be their bridesmaid, they'd probably laugh or completely dismiss it. But they weren't my target audience. So I went to a place where a lot of people go to look and search for things — Craigslist. I posted an ad there offering my services as a professional bridesmaid. I hoped the ad would tell me if there was general interest in this idea, and also the reason behind the interest. I posted the ad and got hundreds of emails from potential customers who wanted to hire me. This helped me validate the idea and then start designing a business model. I now had to identify the 'why' behind the problem I went through the hundreds of emails I received, started to read through the problems and reasons behind why these people wanted to hire me, and began to notice common things. People wanted to hire me because they had friends who were filled with drama or had complicated, busy lives. People wanted to hire me because they didn't have close friends anymore, but craved a support system for their wedding. People wanted to hire me to have an unbiased person to vent to and provide advice along the way. After identifying these buckets of problems, I was able to create my initial package offerings to attract customers based on their specific needs. Next, I built the infrastructure for my business Within days of the ad getting a lot of traction, I built a website, shared package details, and gave people an opportunity to reach out to me if they were interested. This allowed me to establish a brand for the business, build credibility, and give the idea a home. I was able to educate potential customers, share details of what to expect using a brand new service that never existed, and even allowed them to learn more about me as the business owner and service provider. Doing this allowed me to put the idea into motion and legitimize the business quickly. I launched with a few test weddings I booked my first five weddings in less than a week after posting the Craigslist ad. They were all paying customers, but I used their weddings as case studies to help me understand how to improve my business. They taught me what details I needed to add into customer contracts before we worked together, how to restructure my pricing to account for pre-wedding phone calls and meetings, and more. These test weddings allowed me to get mistakes out of the way and improve the business fast. I continued to optimize and improve over the first year To make sure the business continued to grow and be successful, I had to innovate a lot during the first year. Within months of launching, I added new packages (virtual bridesmaid and packages for maids-of-honor) and hired people to help me work the influx of weddings that were coming in. Keeping a growth mindset allowed my business to grow and scale fast. The best businesses start off with an idea you can't forget about. But what makes one person take the idea and run away with it first is a strong passion, a tight strategy, and the determination to not let rejection or failure stop them. SEE ALSO: I'm a professional bridesmaid who charges at least $2,000 per wedding — here's how I went about setting my rates Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: July 15 is Tax Day — here's what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time
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