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Move over, Kristen Wiig. It is time for the professionals to take over the bridesmaid game.
That's right: If you are planning a wedding this year, you can hire the services of a professional bridesmaid for only $2,000.
Weddings are notoriously known as a stressful day, with one mishap that can easily turn a bride from beautiful to bridezilla. That is precisely the reason why Jen Glantz, a 26-year-old copywriter and author of All My Friends Are Engaged, created BridesmaidforHire.com. In short, her service acts as a "gal pal" for the bride.
Bridesmaid for Hire features four packages for brides to choose from, with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to $2,000. The cheapest package is a virtual consultation where they will assist with planning, problem solving and to-do lists through the use of an online video collaboration tool.
The most expensive package is the hands-on "bridesmaid by your side" option for $2,000, which will provide on-ground support for all pre-wedding events and actual participation as a bridesmaid or maid of honor in the wedding party. According to Glantz, the average package sold is between $1,000 to $1,200.
The concept of hiring a wedding professional may be approaching a cultural watershed. Witness the recently released movie "Wedding Ringer" that chronicles the story of a socially awkward guy who hires a professional who provides best men for needy grooms. Separately, the 2011 hit "Bridesmaids" showed the disaster that can ensue when you opt to go the traditional route with friends.
The growing popularity of hiring professional wedding party participants begs the question of the price tag that we are willing to allocate to look good in front of other people. So how much is your ego really worth?
Glantz decided to start the business a little over a year ago, when she had attended so many weddings that her friends nicknamed her the "Professional Bridesmaid." She posted an advertisement on Craigslist that quickly went viral.
The demand from women all over the country asking for professional bridesmaid services ultimately became so overwhelming that she decided to create the website. That became a platform to assist many brides in need.
"When I was in multiple weddings for friends, I saw behind the scenes for the wedding … I saw there was a lack of a person who is designated for the bride and her personal needs," said Glantz.
Though the concept of renting a bridesmaid or groomsman may seem ridiculous to some, the demand that Glantz experienced is indicative of the changing landscape of personal connection. The necessity is so strong that people are now paying for it.
The rush to rent bridal party members may have some relationship with the explosion of social media. While people are connecting online, experts suggest those relationships are superficial.
A recent study released by the University of Oxford found that regardless of the number of friends that one has on social media, they have only a handful of people that they would consider close friends.
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In other words, someone with a huge Facebook list or Twitter following won't exactly be asking any of those folks to be in their wedding. So while social media has made communication is easier than ever, it may not be indicative of the number of true friends one has. Most people only have five to eight emotionally close friends, studies say.
Along those lines, the average number of bridesmaids and groomsmen in wedding parties in 2013 in the U.S. was four to five people. Essentially, if you are an average person with five close friends—and one of them is unable to attend your wedding—you might consider hiring a professional bridesmaid, too.
Just don't expect to use them as an emotional crutch.
"I tell people what to expect as a bridesmaid…. It's not the bride's job to be the camp counselor," Glantz said. "So many of the books out there are surface-level advice, and I give them real detailed expectations."
Some still have trouble warming to the concept, however. Carrie Niemy was married in 2014, and recalled the stress of her wedding day. Though there were many pressure-filled events, she flatly refused to consider hiring a professional bridesmaid if she had to do it again.
"I just don't think it is necessary, and it seems over the top. To be a bridesmaid is really a personal honor, and one that I think should be reserved for friends and family," said Niemy.
Nonetheless, Glantz stated that the demand for professionals has prompted her to expand her business and hire additional bridesmaids. Women can submit an application to be a bridesmaid-for-hire on the website, for which they have received over 750 applicants thus far.
The company also plans to cater to the male side of the business by providing groomsmen and best men. Still, the male version would not be completely similar to bridesmaids, as most of the demand is seen in the behind-the-scenes planning that tends to consume the bride's time.