In the tradition of Sloane Crosley, Mindy Kaling, and Katie Heaney, a hilarious and insightful memoir about one New York City Millennial’s journey to find herself, her dream career, and true love, all while juggling a truly unique job as the world's only professional bridesmaid.
After moving to New York City in her mid-twenties to pursue her dream of writing—and not living on the “Upper East Side” of her parents’ house anymore—Jen Glantz looked forward to a future of happy hours and Sunday brunches with her besties.
What she got instead were a string of phone calls that began with, "Jen, I have something exciting to tell you!" and ended with, "I'd be honored if you would be my bridesmaid." At first she was delighted, but it wasn’t long before she realized two things: all of her assets were tied up in bridesmaid dresses, and she herself was no closer to finding The One. She couldn't do much about the second thing (though her mother would beg to differ), but she could about the first.
One (slightly tipsy) night, Jen posted an ad on Craigslist advertising her services as a professional bridesmaid. When she woke up the next morning, it had gone viral. What began as a half-joke suddenly turned into a lifetime of adventure for Jen–and more insight into the meaning of love than she was getting from OKCupid—as she walked down the aisle at stranger after stranger's wedding.
Fresh, funny, and surprisingly sweet, Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire) is an entertaining reminder that even if you don't have everything together, you can still be a total boss—or, at the very least, a BFF to another girl in need.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Jen Glantz is the world’s first professional bridesmaid and founder of Bridesmaid for Hire. She’s the heartbeat behind the website The Things I Learned From and is the author of the bestselling All My Friends are Engaged. She can be found in New York City wearing old bridesmaid dresses to the grocery store, or two-handing slices of one-dollar pizza.
Read an Excerpt
When You Least Expect It
My parents got married when they were twenty-six years old, so on my twenty-sixth birthday, while I was locked in a staring contest with a flotilla of skinny candles on my Carvel Fudgie the Whale cake, my mom asked if she could blow out the final flame that was stubbornly wiggling its fiery wick right in my face.
I agreed, and when it was over, I asked her what she had wished for. She just winked at me repeatedly, as if she had something stuck in her eyelid. She made sure the twinkle of her engagement ring, fused together with her white-gold wedding band, hit me right in the eye.
“I just want you to find a guy who makes you happy,” she said, cutting the cake into three pieces: two miniature slivers for us and one extra-large slice with the most icing on top for my father. “But please, Jennifer,” she went on, “try to do so while I’m still young enough to dance the electric slide with both of my original hips.”
I mentally bristled. There are a lot of guys who make me happy, I thought to myself while running through an inventory of potential prospects.
There was my doorman, who always reminded me to go back upstairs to grab a heavier sweater and a knit hat when the chill in the air began to fog up the windows.
There was the guy who owned the rat-infested pizza shop across the street who always warmed up an extra slice for me, on the house, whenever I dragged my four-inch-stiletto-shod feet (courtesy of the Macy’s clearance rack, of course) into the restaurant—which was usually after a cringe-worthy date. Those dates always ended with me knocking over a mostly full glass of Cabernet Sauvignon onto the guy’s finely pressed Ralph Lauren button-down shirt, or him turning a friendly good-bye hug into an attempt to french my cochlea.
There was even the homeless guy who had built himself a tiny fort out of beat-up Home Depot cardboard boxes and marked his territory outside the Bank of America ATM machine on Third Avenue. He could often be found shaking his Starbucks cup full of change to the tune of a Ying Yang Twins song, and he always remembered to lift up his Yankees’ cap to tell me that I was 57 percent more beautiful when I smiled.
I told my mom she had nothing to worry about as she whispered some ancient-sounding prayer in Hebrew before digging the tines of her silver fork into my birthday cake.
Even before I was in a training bra, and back when I was still on training wheels, I thought I would have absolutely no problem falling in love. I fell a little bit in love with every single person I met, and sometimes I even had trouble letting them go. Literally. The librarian at the after-school day care had to call my mom to pick me up early one evening because I latched onto her calf and wouldn’t stop hugging it after she read us Charlotte’s Web. The same exact thing happened with the mailman, a McDonald’s employee monitoring the ball pit, and Mickey Mouse—all in the same week.
But I truly fell in love for the very first time when I was four years old. He had shaggy, tree-bark-colored hair, and a dresser full of well-fitting OshKosh B’gosh jean shorts. His name was Scott, and his eyes looked like the fabric buttons on Mr. Brown, my teddy bear.
Scott and I were the head of our preschool class’s lines, and we took our job very seriously. We wondered if this was what it felt like to be the president and the first lady. If so, we were ready to take over the universe.
One afternoon, when Mrs. Kay shook us awake after nap time, Scott and I went behind a homemade rocket ship that was set up in the middle of our classroom. We pretended to be astronauts who had just successfully navigated their way to the farthermost spot on Pluto. We took our plastic cups of semifrozen, snack-time apple juice and clinked them together, a quick cheers to all we managed to accomplish before 2:00 p.m.
The next thing I knew, Scott’s pillowy lips were planted smack on the middle of my right cheek. Look at this, I thought to myself. Look how lucky I am to have found love at such a young age, and with such a handsome, motivated, future astronaut!
But right as I went to kiss him back, to let Scott know that I had the same heart-bursting feelings for him that he had for me, he turned to his left and planted his lips on the cheek of some floozy named Melissa. Talk about a mood killer.
That week, Mrs. Kay had taught us the importance of sharing. Rumor around our preschool class was that if we didn’t understand how to do it, if we didn’t give in and hand over our favorite Barbie to our best friend when she came over for a play date, or split our last Oreo when someone asked us nicely during lunchtime, we wouldn’t be allowed to move on to kindergarten. We’d be held back for a year as punishment.
But I knew that love wasn’t meant to be shared the way Scott had shared his precious lips with both me and that mini-bimbo Melissa. I was pretty sure of that.
When a guy finally gave me the undivided attention I longed for, it wasn’t quite what I expected. I was in fourth grade and working overtime to make myself invisible so the other kids wouldn’t make fun of me for being so painfully shy that I couldn’t even utter my own name without breaking into hives and trembles. Jean was a transfer student from Nice, France, the new boy at my private school in the southwest corner of Boca Raton, Florida. He reminded me of someone out of a history book—Napoleon, perhaps. His shoulders always pointed back, his chin up, and his hands remained planted on his hips, as if he were about to make a profound declaration.
On his first day of school, Jean stopped me in the middle of the purple-speckled hallway carpet and asked me which way the bathroom was. I extended my arm to the left, hoping he wouldn’t ask me anything else so I could go back to reading Harry Potter and developing my own invisibility cloak—a fleece sweater draped over my head, where I was determined to hide until it was time to graduate from elementary school.
My slanted bangs, crooked teeth, and dirty white Converse must have made quite the impression on Jean that afternoon, because the next day, during lunch, he planted his feet on top of a sailor-blue plastic chair and straightened to his full height of five-foot-one, ready to make an announcement.
“Listen up,” he said as his prepubescent voice dipped low before hitting a high falsetto, the likes of which I’d never heard before. “I want all of you to know that I, Jean, am in love with Jennifer Glantz.”
I coughed up my pizza bagel onto my orange lunch tray. I prayed that nobody in the lunchroom knew who Jennifer Glantz was. A perpetually shy girl can only dream.
Alas. Three hundred and forty-three pairs of eyes spun in circles until they found a pleasant resting spot on my forehead.
I wondered how well my invisibility cloak worked as I pulled the neckline of my sweater up over my noggin and tucked my legs up into the body of the sweater, hiding everything but my widow’s peak. I closed my eyes tight. Just get through this, I chanted in my head, and then maybe you’ll finally be allowed to transfer to a middle school in some other galaxy.
“I love her so much. I will do anything for her,” he went on. “I’ll even buy her tampons.”
The room broke out into shrills of laughter. People began whooping and clapping their hands together as if they were welcoming Justin Timberlake onto our campus. A wave of “woos!” went through one of my ears and out the other. I hadn’t even gotten my period yet, but now the entire student body thought I was a bleeding monster.
Was love supposed to be as uncomfortable as going to the dentist or, when I finally came of age to experience it, the gynecologist?
I’ll never know why Jean fell in love with me after I pointed him to the bathroom, or why he proclaimed his love like he was conquering a brand-new territory, or why he felt the need to demonstrate the seriousness of his affection by volunteering to buy me tampons. Maybe it was because to Jean, I was a mystery. I was a girl of few words and only slightly more hand gestures, and maybe to him, and only him, that was enough.
By age fourteen, I thought that if I wanted the right guy to like me, I had to make him aware that I liked him by sticking my tongue down his throat. (I don’t know when the girls I went to school with held a town hall meeting and decided that boys no longer had a flaming case of the cooties, but suddenly it was so, and now we had to kiss them. Which they did. All of them. Except for me.)
I would practice a lot in case my moment happened. I’d stand in front of the mirror and slather on some cherry Lip Smacker before placing my lips on the cold reflective glass, moving my tongue in rapid figure eight motions and tiny circles, making out with my own reflection.
When I finally found someone who told someone else he’d be okay with kissing me, I had a mouthful of braces and a deep psychological fear that if the boy also had braces, we’d lock together. Then we’d be rushed to the hospital and my parents would have to see me tangled up in a premarital situation with a guy who was just okay kissing me. They’d probably make him marry me, or at least attend our next Passover seder.
The day I got my braces off, I went to the movies with a group of guys and girls and told myself that before another car flipped over in Fast and Furious 3, my lips would be glued to a guy with the AOL screen name Bucs314. But I waited too long, and right as our chins touched and our lips pressed together, my right leg started to vibrate. My teal beeper was going off in my jeans, which meant one thing and one thing only: the movie was over, and my dad was waiting for me outside.
I wondered, then, if love was all about being in the right place at the right time. The never-been-kissed, fourteen-year-old version of myself deemed that I would probably have to wait forever for it. (Now I wonder if I need to fully dismantle my biological clock, or at least take the batteries out; these days, it’s pulsing harder than a Kesha song right before the beat drops.)
After that ill-fated attempt at romance, with Vin Diesel watching over us, I managed to successfully touch tongues with five people before I met a guy named Ben in college and instantly fell in love. He was the head of Habitat for Humanity at my college and had a pretentious air about him that made him seem as if he was tightrope-walking thirteen stories above everybody else. I melted when he said my name, and I cooed when he repeated world news as if he were taking over Brian Williams’s gig on Nightly News. We kissed for the first time in my dorm room, on the edge of my extra-long twin-sized bed, and by the time he left, I was planning our entire future together. We’d graduate and join the Peace Corps and be the kind of couple who didn’t shower for weeks at a time as we traveled the world, adopting a handful of kids from Third World countries. But one week after our first smooch, he stopped calling. He stopped texting. He stopped responding to me when I sent him emails asking if he’d read the latest National Geographic article on genocide in Rwanda. I was getting ghosted before ghosting had become a thing.
I started to think that maybe love was just a game. A series of passionate, heart-racing hellos followed by radio-silent good-byes. A factory-defective puzzle in which, for me, the all-important middle piece was left out of the box. Other people seemed to have it all figured out, but I was always “losing a turn,” Monopoly style, or shelling out my hard-earned (and decidedly real) money to fund some guy’s steak dinner because he was on student loans and counting the pennies in his sock drawer.
Two years after sticking my diploma in a frame and thirty-six days after landing in New York City with a one-way ticket, I signed up for a JDate account and messaged sixty-five guys before finding one whose bio was made up of complete sentences and not just a series of abbreviations and winky faces. It was my first time on an online dating site, but beggars can’t be choosers—the only guys knocking down my door were of the Seamless deliveryman variety.
When I walked into a Lower East Side wine bar to meet one particular date, I had no idea which guy he was. In front of me was a lineup of freshly shaven gentlemen in gingham button-down shirts, so I went up to each guy, one by one, and asked, “Are you David?” They all shrugged their shoulders and fumbled around with their phones, begging me to move aside so when their internet date walked in, they wouldn’t be caught canoodling with a lost girl with messy blonde hair.
When David finally arrived, I commented that he didn’t look a thing like his profile picture. He was five inches shorter and his hair color wasn’t the same; in fact, he didn’t have any hair at all. But we sat down and ordered two glasses of sauvignon blanc. I rattled off some of the headlines that Matt Lauer had delivered that morning in order to shatter the nervous silence that was beginning to suffocate us.
“Cheers,” he said.
I raised my glass and dinged it against his.
“To what?” I replied.
“You’re just way smarter than you look.” He chuckled and placed his glass back down on the wobbly wooden table.
I told him I wasn’t feeling well. It was winter, and as a Florida native, I wasn’t used to getting frostbite on my exposed flesh every time I left my apartment. I gathered my things to get ready to leave, but when I put my coat on, my left arm got stuck in the sleeve and I knocked down his half-empty—and my half-full—glass of white wine. I watched in slow motion as the glasses shattered and little shards got stuck in the leather upper of his loafers. When the bill came, the restaurant charged us a 15 percent service fee for my performance, and he asked me to pay for the entire bill to cover the embarrassment I had caused him.
I wondered then, at twenty-three, if finding love meant having to share when I didn’t want to, be uncomfortable, and play a game all at the same time. If so, I was already exhausted. I wondered if I had to earn it, like a child earns an extra gold star, like a teenager earns her driver’s license, like a college kid earns her first win at beer pong. But how many times did I have to sit across from a guy while he swished around his half-empty glass of whiskey and yammered on about how he absolutely hated his job in investment banking and couldn’t wait to retire to the sunny isles of Florida? Did I really have to use all of my 60 GB per month AT&T data plan to download sixteen different dating apps to find my Mr. Forever, all while politely smiling whenever someone asked me why I didn’t already have a boyfriend? What did I need to do to find a guy who would eat Doritos Locos on the couch with me?
Now, at twenty-eight, I’m feeling a little more hopeful and a little less constipated about the whole thing. Maybe if I don’t experience these bad dates, these email breakups, these Tinder messages full of bad grammar and lame come-ons, I won’t know true love when it finally comes up to me and gently smacks me across the face.
After all, every person we meet is a plus or a minus to our heart. As I stuck my fingers into a glop of birthday cake icing and drew a faint little heart on my plate, I thought, Maybe it all evens out.
My parents have been married for forty years. I don’t know many things that last that long. My shower curtain needs to be changed at least every seven years. My library card expires every ten years and requires proof of a pulse and a New York City address to get a new one. Even Carnation Instant Nonfat Dry Milk has a shelf life of only thirty-seven years.
My parents met on a blind date back when “I’ll Google you” was something naughty you said after dessert, right before the bill came. My mom had just moved from Queens to Miami Beach. One night, her friend told her to paint her lips magenta and put on a pair of sleek bell-bottom jeans because they were going out on a double blind date.
My dad was visiting Miami Beach from Queens, and his friend told him to shower but not shave, because that night, they were going out with two groovy girls.
That’s the night my dad and my mom met, but funnily enough, they weren’t set up on the blind date with each other—they were matched with the other’s friend. When the date was over, my dad called my mom and said, “I had fun with your friend, but you’re the one I’d like to see again.”
I fear that now, that would translate into a pathetically blasé text, like, “Yo, you wanna hang again without the other two?” I wonder how my mom would respond to that, or if she even would respond to that, if their meet-cute was adapted for modern times.
“How did you know Dad was the one?” I asked my mom after we had eaten our cake and I had peeled birthday candle wax from the dining room table. We both glanced over and watched him sitting on the couch, snoring, the TV buzzing on low volume like a lullaby.
“I didn’t know,” she said, tapping every button on the remote, trying to shut the TV off. “It just felt different yet familiar. A familiar kind of love.”
Maybe, I thought to myself, love doesn’t need to be complicated; maybe it just needs to feel like everything else. Maybe it just needs to feel familiar.
“Lloyd!” my mother yelled as my dad shook himself awake and tried to acclimate himself to his surroundings. There he was, on the soft cream leather couch, his eyes meeting the eyes of the same woman he’d been waking up to for forty years.
“Wake up!” she said. But her voice was filled with patience, and she smiled back at him, as she had so many times before.
Table of Contents
Prologue I "Uggghhh" Weddings 1
1 A Familiar Kind of Love 7
2 You Can Always Come Back Home 19
(Interlude) A Brief History of My Life After Graduation 27
3 Will You Be My Bras-Maid? 31
4 For the Love of JDate 41
5 All of My Friends Got Engaged 55
6 Bridesmaid Is Just Another Name for a Warrior in a Taffeta Dress 65
7 The Curious Case of the Serial Bouquet Catcher 81
8 Women Seeking Women-Professional Bridesmaid 93
9 Bridesmaid for Hire-Crazy or Genius? 105
10 The Strange Thing about Strangers 121
11 The Perfect Match 135
12 A Time and a Square to Say I DO 149
13 Famous Last Words 161
14 What Ray Says, Goes 173
15 Oh, You'll Totally Wear It Again (Twenty Things You Can Really Do with an Old Bridesmaid Dress) 185
16 Those Who Will Remain Nameless 193
17 Stand-Up Comedy School Dropout 211
18 Ghosts of a Bridesmaid's Past 223
19 Ask a Professional Bridesmaid (Real Questions from Real Girls) 233
20 Eggs Sunny-Side Frozen 245
21 DTW to AWOL 259
22 Good-Bye, Cold Feet 273
23 Thirty Wedding Songs I Never Want to Dance To Again 283
24 Love Always Perseveres 287
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I graciously received a free copy of "Always a Bridesmaid (for Hire)" from Atria Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own. Jen Glantz’s “Always a Bridesmaid (for Hire)” isn’t my normal cup of tea but boy am I happy that I read it! In her feel-good memoir, Jen Glantz tells the tale of how she got into the bridesmaid business as well as several humorous anecdotes along the way. There were moments when I was crying because she had me cracking up and that rarely ever happens with me! Her storytelling style is compelling, clever, and wholly engaging. In what can loosely be considered a coming-of-age story, one glimpses the practical, genuine, and lively Ms. Glantz who has such a refreshingly hilarious way of looking at life. Whether it is having the bride’s back on the day of the wedding, running into ex-friends in the supermarket in her hometown, or dealing with the pitfalls of internet dating, Jen is the Jill-of-all-Trades who can handle it all. The writing was engrossing and relatable, and the flow of story was steady and it certainly kept my attention. “Always a Bridesmaid (for Hire)” was a lighthearted and fun tale that had me captivated from beginning to end. Reviewed by The Merry Wife of Windsor.
This is not a manual on how to create a successful small business. More importantly, this is not a guide on how to be a professional bridesmaid. This is, however, a story about how one woman turned a closetful of bridesmaid dresses and troves of on the fly problem-solving skills into a thriving company. Jen Glantz is the “wildcard gal pal” every reader can’t help but relate to and wants to be friends with. The candid honesty and raw emotion found throughout Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire) is what makes this one of the best books I’ve read in years. Like, “can’t put it down, I ate six meals over my computer in order to finish reading this in two days,” GOOD. The heart of this book is obviously Jen’s impromptu Craigslist ad, turned viral sensation startup business…but beyond the makeup, hairspray, and endless amount bobby pins, this book is really an introspective look at the relationships we form with others and the love we cultivate for one another. As the chapters ebb and flow between past and present, Jen shares childhood lessons that have (or haven’t) prepared her for many of life’s challenges (think, impossible demands at work, underwhelming first dates, and all of the uncertainties in between). Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire) is a book about how repeated failure is, in and of itself, success. Perhaps that a little bit how love works…you have to kiss a lot of frogs (and learn a lot about yourself in the process) before you can appreciate a Prince Charming when he shares your love for $1 street pizza and converse.
Always a Bridesmaid is a fun book. We get to see Glantz go through awkward moments, and being a bridesmaid more times than I can count. I love when she and her friend had the epiphany to be a bridesmaid for hire. It’s definitely a unique business. I liked seeing glimpses into her childhood and the dates she gets setup on. She does tend to find the humor in situations when she’s not completely comfortable. Always a Bridesmaid for Hire is a book that will have you giggling and feel like you know Jen Glantz on a BFF basis.