Bridesmaid for Hire with Jen Glantz
As an entrepreneur, I always love sharing other entrepreneurs’ journeys with you on this show. I’m fascinated about why people decide to start businesses and the types of businesses they start.
Today’s guest has a really fascinating business. I am speaking to Jen Glantz, founder of Bridesmaid for Hire and Author of the book Always a Bridesmaid for Hire, about why she started her business and the tolls that her entrepreneurial journey have taken on her personal life.
What Are We Drinking?
Jen — Coffee with almond milk
Shannon — Coffee with sugar and milk
- When Jen was in her early 20’s, a lot of her friends got engaged and married. Very quickly, she became “always a bridesmaid”. She was going to bachelorette parties, bridal showers, dress fittings, etc., and it kept happening weekend after weekend.
- At about age 26, Jen started having distant friends ask her to be a bridesmaid. These were the type of friends she would talk to once a year.
- One of these women lived about five blocks away from Jen in NYC, but she never saw her.
- Jen felt upset and went home to her roommate and to talk about it. All of these people she hardly knew were asking her to be a bridesmaid. Her friend laughed at her and said that she had become a professional bridesmaid.
- These sirens when off in her head and she thought, “I am a good friend”, “I am responsible”, “I show up on time”. If she could do this for people she is hardly friends with anymore, maybe she could do this for strangers.
- To be a good bridesmaid, you have to be good with people and be able to predict situations. She loved working with people in difficult situations and no one really talks about this.
- Your wedding is one of the most difficult days of your life, because there are emotions, stress, pressure, money, and people. Jen loved showing up for people in those situations.
- If you have a strong heart for people, you will be a good bridesmaid.
- Keep the drama to yourself and be there for the bride. It is not about you. If you can’t put someone else before you, don’t be in the wedding party. Your job is to be there for the bride.
- There is no manual for being a bridesmaid, so most people don’t know what to do or not to do. People are just trying to be the best versions of themselves.
- There are so many external factors that make the whole thing awkward, chaotic, and dramatic.
- Bridezillas are real. There is so much stress and so much going on. Other people don’t realize how much drama has been going on behind the scenes leading up to that day, between family, money, who gets to bring their kids or not, friend drama, etc.
- Jen thinks the more money you spend on the wedding the more you find yourself feeling dramatic and chaotic on the wedding day. You’ve invested a lot in that one day and you start to panic when things go wrong.
- Some of the happiest people on their wedding day are the ones who didn’t go into debt and did an awesome job planning it with the money they had available.
- Shannon’s biggest piece of advice she gives to couples is that this is one day of your life. You are beginning a long journey with someone else. A lot of things are going to come up.
- It shouldn’t be the most expensive day of your life, it should be the most fun day of your life.
- It was a Friday night when her friend had said she was a professional bridesmaid, and Jen started thinking about turning this into a business.
- At the time, Jen was working full time at a tech start up. She was a copywriter and she loved it, but she is the kind of person who was hustling, even when she had a full-time job.
- She was doing some freelance writing and was dreaming of starting a business. She always had a love of doing many different things.
- Jen was a poetry major in college and had no business experience, but she had an idea.
- To test her idea, she posted it on Craigslist. She does not recommend this now. It felt right and logical at the time. Now she would never tell someone to do this.
- She created an ad on a Friday and wrote all of the things she would do if she was hired. The list included helping you pee while you are in your wedding dress, helping with friend and family drama, dancing with your relatives, being the friend you wish you had, and at the end of the night disappearing from your life.
- She was a writer at the time so she made the ad anonymous.
- The Monday after she wrote the ad, her life changed. She didn’t tell anyone at work what she did, but there was a Buzzfeed article all about her Craigslist ad that went viral.
- Jen had hundreds of emails from women asking if they could hire her.
- There is a gap in the industry. One in four people do not have any close friends they can ask to be their bridesmaid.
- What really pushed her to do this was reading the emails. People told her really personal stories about situations they were in and problems they were having with their friends.
- Jen realized that nobody was talking about this. A lot of female friendships dissolve, they end, or you go different ways, and there you are at your wedding and you have to display the friends you may not have. Not only that, you are missing the support system that you desperately need.
- There was no other vendor out there that supported the bride. Nobody is hired to be with you when you are falling apart. Every bride can point to one part of the day where they were falling apart.
- Jen left work around noon on that Monday to go to lunch, and she called her mom. Her mom already saw the article, because it had gone viral, and Jen had contacted Buzzfeed to let them know it was her, so her name was attached.
- Jen went home and for the next couple of months, she didn’t sleep more than a two hours a night, because she started a business.
- She had experience building a website, so she did that overnight. She read through hundreds of emails, based on what people were looking for, and that is how she created her initial packages.
- Jen booked her first couple of weddings that week and her first one was in Maple Grove, Minnesota. She started this business in less than three days, by herself.
- During this time, she had her first live TV interview for an Australian morning show. When she got there, they asked her how much this cost, and she said it was a free service.
- Her mom saw the interview and said she did great, but she had to charge for this service.
- Usually when you start a business, you can see what other people are charging, but she couldn’t do that in this situation.
- Jen started off low — less than $1,000. As she started doing more and more of them, she put together contracts that the bride would sign. It included everything that could go wrong and all the details. She also put together prices based on how long they needed her (6, 8, 12 hours, bachelorette party, etc.).
- She got smarter as she made every mistake in the book, and she didn’t finalize her prices until she was about six months in.
- For about a year an a half, Jen worked full time, she did freelance writing on the side, and she got a book deal to write her second book. On weekends and during the week, she was a bridesmaid for hire.
- One weekend she had three weddings. She still showed up on Mondays at work.
- One day in October, she got the news that her company was going to be doing layoffs and she was the first one to be let go. Her boss chose her, because he said she shouldn’t be there any more.
- Jen was devastated when she left, and she told herself that she would never work for someone else again.
- Jen called her mom and her mom said this was the best thing that could ever happen, because her feet were hanging off the mountain and she needed someone to push her so she could fly.
- There was something beautiful about having that guaranteed income coming in every month from her job. She was scared and it hurt her ego. She thought she was superwoman, working days and nights and burning herself out.
- Oftentimes when people are let go, they end up someplace better. It is a gift from the universe that is forcing you to grow, expand, and pursue something different.
- Getting laid off was a little embarrassing to Jen at first. Everyone she has talked to who was laid off has ended up in a better situation.
- Things happen for a reason and we need to not fight them, but instead keep pushing forward.
- Jen was laid off in 2016, and she was a year and a half into her building her business. Aside from Bridesmaid for Hire, she continued to do other side work like consulting, coaching, and writing, because she knew the wedding industry had seasons that were more busy than others and she needed to make sure she made enough to support her life in NYC.
- She took up as many side hustles as she could. She started speaking more and started charging to speak.
- It became an Excel spreadsheet game of wanting to make X number of dollars or she wanted to make more than the last month.
- Jen doesn’t think a full-time job is right for her. She likes doing different things and she feels alive and challenged when she is hustling and when she has four or five different things going on.
- She never knows what the future will hold, but she loves the hustle she has created, even though some months are frustrating and stressful and she doesn’t sleep.
- The entrepreneurial journey is not for everyone. There are ebbs and flows to every business. If you cannot handle the really difficult times, then it is not for you. There is no shame in going back to a full-time job.
- Jen has lost a lot of relationships and friendships, because she works most nights and weekends. Finding balance when you are an entrepreneur is tough, because you start to equate every hour with a dollar sign.
- It is not as glamorous as it sounds. It is hustling, and giving up going on vacations, and giving up seeing your friends. There is a lot to it that people don’t see.
- When you are the sole source of income, and you are not getting a regular income, you feel like you need to say yes to everything and hope your business grows.
- You don’t have time for your friends. Shannon is six years into building the Gym, and she is now sort of seeing friends. Shannon’s oldest and dearest friends, Susan, is always there for her but Shannon never sees her.
- The day Shannon went on the Today Show, she got a voicemail from Susan and she was crying because she was so excited for her. That was one of Shannon’s favorite well wishes.
- The love of Shannon’s life is the Financial Gym. It is difficult to maintain a relationship, because there is so little time and entrepreneurs have different priorities.
- Jen’s boyfriend is also an entrepreneur and he not only gets the hustle, he is also doing it himself. He understands what she is doing and respects her for it.
- When it comes to dating, you need to know yourself and what is important to you prior to the first date.
- You need to make other entrepreneur friends who understand what you are going through. When you are building your business, there are going to be people in your life who get it and some who don’t.
- People think balance is even. Shannon thinks of it as a pie chart. There are going to be times when one of those pieces is bigger than the others. You need to be mindful of those pieces and what you want to give your energy to.
- For Shannon, her evenings are typically crazy, but she tries to work from home on Mondays and Fridays. She tries to not schedule meetings before 9:00am, because it is important for her to wake her son up, make breakfast, and get him on the bus. When she is with her son, she tries to not be on her phone. Sometimes it is harder than others.
- It is important to manage yourself and your needs. Jen tries to get out of the house every day and do some physical activity, even if it means walking around the block. You need to also give yourself some rest. Jen schedules time for yoga and it is non-negotiable.
- One of the best decisions Jen made was getting help. There was a point at about nine months of building her business where she was feeling lost. She was booking so many weddings that she needed to turn people away, because she was only one person. She had about 20,000 to 30,000 people who wanted to work for her. She couldn’t hire everyone, but she could hire a few. Jen needed to figure out how to monetize that.
- She found a free place called Score NYC, where you could meet with retired business professionals who can help you. Jen met with a man named Ray, who was 86 years old, every single Saturday for about two years. He was not in the wedding industry, but the advice she got from him has changed her life in many different ways.
- Finding a support system is so important.
- Jen found a therapist when she was dealing with depression, and she she reached out to the Financial Gym when she realized she needed help with her finances.
- One of the best things Jen did was look for help when she needed it. Admitting that you need help is difficult.
- Jen rescheduled her first session at the Financial Gym three times, because she was scared to talk about her finances. It wasn’t as scary as she expected.
- We are more comfortable getting physically naked than financially naked. Many people would rather do public speaking than talk about their finances. Sharing your finances is one of the bravest things you can do.
- When you are ready for help, you will rise to the occasion and really incredible things will happen in your life when you open up and be honest.
- One of the worst mistakes Jen has made was getting stuck in a rut of fear of rejection and failure. She has been writing on the internet since 2010 and has been rejected over and over, but there is nothing like being rejected because of your business idea.
- When you have a business idea, you have to be willing to pivot, adjust, grow, but it is hard sometimes. She put so much pressure on herself at times not to fail that she didn’t do anything — she just kept things going and didn’t innovate and change things fast enough.
- Everyday she tries to aim for failure, whether that means sending an email to someone she doesn’t think will respond or ask for something she is not sure she deserves to get right now. Think of a new idea and put it into motion. Moving is better than sitting still.
- Sometimes business rejection is more difficult than personal rejection, and sometimes it hurts more than you can anticipate.
- When you get rejected, look at that as a sign you are moving forward. They know you exist and you are out there. Keep going. If you believe in something, you have to see it through.
- Jen’s biggest obstacle of taking her business to the next level is continually figuring out the trends in the wedding industry. That industry is always changing, especially in the world of technology and Instagram. It is continuing to figure out how to bring value to people at different touch points, adopting changes, and figuring out different ways to innovate.
- If you want to start a business, do it now. Time goes so quickly. Don’t doubt yourself, don’t tell people, just go. Even if all that means is researching on Google 15 minutes a day. Baby steps are going to be the best thing you can do.
- If you are really passionate about something, what are you waiting for? Don’t doubt yourself, just start.
TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is that most people talk about the financial tolls that starting a business can take on your life, but I don’t think enough people talk about the personal tolls, especially when it comes to maintaining your friendships. Speaking from experience, it’s really hard to balance it all and friends are typically the first to go on the back burner when you have a business to run.
Random Three Questions
- What was your favorite wedding?
- What do you do with all of the dresses?
- If this was your last day on earth, what would be your last meal?
Connect with Jen
Podcast: You’re Not Getting Any Younger (Episode 28 with Shannon)
If you’d like to talk to my team at the Financial Gym to help you prepare, at least financially, to start a business or help run yours better, I hope you’ll reach out to us at the Financial Gym. The number one employer at the Gym is “self employed”, so it’s certainly an area we’re comfortable working in. The great news is that Martinis and Your Money listeners get 15% off Financial Gym services. So head over to, or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.