How much do you think the average American wedding costs? According to TheKnot.com, data from 27,000 recently married couples reveals that the whole wedding package — which includes the ring, bridesmaid and groomsman attire, catering, and much more — comes out to a whopping $33,900.
Considering that hefty price tag, it’s no wonder weddings have made nonstop headlines since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Across the country, brides and grooms have been scrambling to change their plans, wrestle back their deposits, and trim their guest lists.
Opportunity Knocks For A Bridesmaid
This total upheaval has been disastrous for some businesses, like large venues and catering companies, but it also means that niches are opening up in the wedding industry for savvy entrepreneurs. Elopement planners, for example, are popping up everywhere to meet the demand for tiny, socially distanced weddings. And virtual weddings are the new big thing.
But these innovators aren’t the first to find a creative way to cash in on the concept of a bride’s “big day.” In many ways, they’re following in the footsteps of Jen Glantz, the world’s very first professional bridesmaid.
If you’ve seen the movie “27 Dresses” starring Katherine Heigl, then you have a pretty good idea of what Glantz’s life was like before she started her company, Bridesmaid for Hire, in 2014. As she puts it in a 2020 article for Business Insider, “Early in my 20s, most of my friends got engaged — and I quickly became the walking, talking, pastel dress-wearing cliché of always being the bridesmaid.”
Some women in her shoes might have started turning down invitations, but Glantz saw an opportunity. She was a fantastic bridesmaid, and she was repairing dresses, warming “cold feet,” and writing speeches for free — so why not cash in on that demand?
Her Bridesmaid for Hire business grew from this question: “In the $300 billion wedding industry, why is there no one whose job it is to be there, really be there, for the bride?”
How She Did It
Back in 2014, and in typical old-school style, Bridesmaid for Hire started with a Craigslist post. In it, Glantz offered herself up as a professional bridesmaid to brides and grooms in New York City. That single posting could easily have gone under the radar, but Glantz used her background as a poetry major to make it funny, compelling, and shareable.
Within two days, she had responses from 250 people who wanted to hire her. She’d found her niche. Today, Glantz and her team work full time for Bridesmaid for Hire. They have provided bridesmaid services at more than 150 weddings and been featured by more than 500 media outlets.
Glantz was smart on two counts. First, she chose millennials as her demographic. According to the New York Post, 27% of millennials self-describe as friendless, and 1 in 5 don’t even have acquaintances. That means they’re desperately in need of bridesmaid services, either for empathy and support or just to round out their wedding pictures.
Second, she offers customizable packages for individual brides or even maids of honor. Brides can get a full-on bridesmaid for hire, which includes wedding planning help, drama patrol, advice, and a constant shoulder to lean on through the bachelorette party, bridal shower, and wedding. Or, they can sign up for a one-on-one wedding vent session or hire a wedding coordinator just for the big day. Glantz and her team will also help maids of honor plan bachelorette parties and write speeches.
Hiding In Plain Sight
In addition to those services, customers pay for secrecy. Often, only the bride knows that one of the people in the wedding party is on the clock. “I’m like the personal assistant, on-call (unofficial) therapist, social director, and peacekeeper for the person who hires me. It feels like I’m doing a job that people need but are scared to admit they need,” Glantz wrote in Business Insider. “That’s why they keep it a secret.”
Now the author of two books on the subject — “All My Friends Are Engaged” and “Always a Bridesmaid for Hire” — Glantz also helps other entrepreneurs start their own wedding businesses. Her coaching company, Jen & Juice, is gaining just as much traction as Bridesmaid for Hire. She’s living proof that with the right timing and strategy, even a seemingly crazy business idea can become a moneymaker.
To learn more about Glantz and her companies, visit JenGlantz.com.