I found myself bent down, the tips of my Guess heels dinging against the cold tile floor. There I was, holding up the layers, upon layers, upon layers of the bride’s dress so that on the most special day of her life she could pee. Maybe you’ve been there before, maybe you haven’t, but if you have ever been a bridesmaid, you’ll know for certain that it can feel more like a job, sometimes, than anything else.
Within 48 hours, two of my dearest friends both asked me the very same question. It was the kind of question that made little pellets of sweat dance down their foreheads and splash onto the collar of their shirts. It was the kind of question that made me run home and check the contents of my bank account, praying that the zeroes I kept seeing would magically turn into 8’s.
“Jen,” they both kicked it off with, fiddling the tips of their freshly manicured fingers, “Will you be my bridesmaid?”
And without even swallowing the nervous salvia that was building up in my mouth, I said yes. The first time and the second time.
Being a bridesmaid and having the chance to stand beside someone who means something so significant to you in your life, on their special day, is one of the greatest honors. It’s also something I’ve become quite familiar with these days.
But with that honor comes enough responsibility to put a dent in your bank account and hold hostage a chunk of your precious vacation days. It requires a lot of energy and an alarm clock, so you’re awake early enough to start getting ready for the wedding before the sun even has a chance to rise on the bride’s big day. It also requires knowledge, and with my experience I’d gained a lot of it.
I became such a skilled bridal party member that my friends started calling me a professional bridesmaid. That’s when I had weird idea: what if I really did become a professional bridesmaid?
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Strangers often rely on other strangers for an honest and unbiased opinion that they won’t necessarily get from anyone they know. That raw and open truth holds a lot of beauty, and could be the starting point of a great friendship—or at least a good bride-to-bridesmaid relationship.
So I posted an ad on Craigslist offering up my services as a bridesmaid to any bride out there that’s looking to add one to their wedding party.
Of course, as I mentioned in my ad, I’ll be there for the bride to do things like:
– Hold up the 18 layers of your dress so that you can pee with ease on your wedding day.
– Catch the bouquet and then follow that moment up with my best Miss America-like “Omg, I can’t believe this” speech.
– Do the electric and the cha cha slide.
– Respond in a timely manner to pre-wedding email chains created by other bridesmaids and the Maid of Honor.
But I’m also there to get to know the bride. To find out, beforehand, the kinds of things that make her heart race with sweet jubilation and her nerves pump with negative energy.
And when my inbox started filling up with their requests and their offers to have me as a part of their wedding day, I realized that there is a need for something like a “bridesmaid-for-hire” kind-of service and here are a few reasons why:
- It’s tough to make friends once you’ve graduated from college. I understand that. I’ve been out of college for four years and since then, some of the closest friends I’ve made have been the guy who works at the pizza shop across the street and the librarian at my local library.
- Your friends often live all over the place. Most likely they are a plane ride away or a few hours on a train. Maybe they can’t make it to your wedding or to all of your events.
- Not everyone wants to be a bridesmaid. And so they will do things like ignore email chains and show up three hours late on the morning of your big day.
“Pick me!” I wanted to tell these brides. I know the ins and the outs of how to make someone else’s wedding day—and the months leading up to it—flawless. I know how to rally up the guests to dance the Hora or how to give a speech at the rehearsal dinner so it won’t sound like it’s being read straight off a Hallmark card.
But most of all, I know that love is impossibly hard to find and even harder to hold onto. Wedding days are special and it helps to have a bridesmaid who gets that—even if she is a total stranger.
My first official wedding as a professional bridesmaid is in September and the bride and I have been speaking on a daily basis.
I’m there for her to talk out her wedding details, help organize and prioritize her “to-do” list of pre-wedding tasks, and diffuse any of the “drama” or “stress” that her friends or fellow bridesmaids are attaching to her during this time.
A lot of my tasks with the bride are things I’ve learned along the way. Things I didn’t do so well the first time I was a bridesmaid—but learned how to master the second and the third time around.
But mostly, my main job as her professional bridesmaid is to do something that I’ve always done for friends and for the people who I’ve worked with throughout the years. Something that’s almost like a secret weapon for a bride who is a little over a month away from her wedding. Something all of us can do a little more of every single day: just listen.
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