There are all sorts of jobs in this world now, some so deviously simple you wonder why nobody ever thought of it, whilst others are simply perplexing.
For instance, being a professional bridesmaid who’s hired by people to appear at their wedding – I remember seeing the ‘Wedding Ringer’, but I never thought someone had brought it to life.
Jen Glantz is a 28 year old woman from New York City, and that’s exactly her job description. One can hire her from Craigslist to appear at your wedding if you need a bridesmaid in a jiffy.
She works for all sorts of clients, those already with bridesmaids but needing a professional to steady the process, or those without anyone to call on at all. For between $300 to over $1,000 – Jen would be by your side throughout planning till that special day that would go off without a hitch.
The idea for her website, Bridesmaid for Hire, started with a passing comment back when she was working as a copywriter for a technology start-up company.
Jen returned home one day after having been asked to be a bridesmaid by two different friends on the same day, and her flatmate remarked that Jen was becoming a professional.
“It was a light bulb moment,” says Jen. She posted an advert on Craigslist, the classified advertisements website, and the response was phenomenal.
“I couldn’t believe it, I knew I was on to something,” she says. In June 2014 the website was launched and a new era of renting a bridesmaid began.
The service works on a system of packages. Starting from $300 (£230), you can have the “Virtual Bridesmaid” offering, which includes one-to-one sessions to help brides “create a to-do list, a day-of itinerary and a budget for your wedding adventure”.
While there is a set number of phone sessions, Jen is on hand at all times via text and email.
There are a few other options, available to both bridesmaids who need a bit of help as well as brides.
These reach a crescendo with the “by your side” bridesmaid experience, starting from $1,000 (£770). This essentially sees a bride paying a perfect stranger to be with them for the whole wedding process, right down to mingling with the wedding party and appearing in photos.
Jen says the most her bill for a wedding has ever come to is about $3,000 (£2,300).
Jen says she works with all kinds of women. Some have six or more other bridesmaids; others come to her with no close friends at all.
“It happens, lives grow apart and some women find themselves without that friendship to call on,” she says.
“I really try to make friends with all my clients. I will work with them for anything between a year and three months before their wedding day; we build a relationship in that time.
“I am that emotional support system for women who don’t necessarily have the people around them to help plan their big day and support them through the inevitable stress.”
No-one who’s ever been involved in planning a wedding will doubt the pressures involved. You can’t help but wonder how being part of multiple weddings at once doesn’t get overwhelming.
Jen admits she does get exhausted by her work.
“I can be working with anywhere between five and 15 clients at any one time. I love it with all my heart, but it is hard work. Weddings aren’t magical and perfect, they are stressful,” she says.
In 2015 she worked with over 40 clients. So far this year she has 25 weddings on the books. With business going well she does sometimes need help.
Occasionally a bride will request two or three bridesmaids, or she’ll be booked to be at two weddings on the same day. When these situations arise Jen will dip into her store of back-up ‘maids.
She says what she does differs from a traditional wedding planner in one crucial way.
“The planner is there to focus on the things, the venue, the decor, the transport. I’m there strictly for the people. I want the people to look and feel great,” she says.
Although she will of course take on other tasks as required. She is, at the end of the day, on the bride’s wage.