The other day, with a bag of freshly popped and buttered popcorn in my hand, I went to watch a film that fictionalizes what I do in real-life. A job that almost nobody else in the world does.
I’m a professional bridesmaid and my business, Bridesmaid for Hire, provides a very similar service to the one that Kevin Hart’s character offers in the movie The Wedding Ringer.
This all started for me in early 2014.
I was asked to be a bridesmaid so many times by my own friends that I suddenly earned the nickname of “Professional Bridesmaid." I knew what to do and where to be, without the bride having to tell me what she needed or when she needed it.
Beyond just starting to hoard a rather large selection of bridesmaid dresses in my tiny closest, I noticed that something really gigantic and necessary was missing in the wedding industry.
A bride had all these different kinds of people around her on her wedding day, but she didn’t have anyone whose No. 1 job was to focus on her and what she needed.
Sure, there’s often a wedding planner or a day-of coordinator, but they are there to make sure the venue looks exactly like the vision the bride has snuggled in her head since she was a little girl.
They are there to deal with the vendors who show up late, or not at all. They are there to make sure the room is set up before the guests arrive and are ready for their mouths to hit the forks and their feet to meet the dance floor.
Sure, the bride may have an army of bridesmaids, but often times they are busy getting ready themselves, or daydreaming about a steamy-looking groomsmen or where they can find the nearest bar.
And you can’t blame them, because no one ever teaches you how to be a bridesmaid.
There should be a class right before graduating college that tells you this: Very, very soon, all of your friends are going to get engaged and you’re going to have to put on a pair of wobbly heels and a bridesmaid dress that make you look like a cupcake covered in taffeta and walk down that aisle.
They should also tell you that you’re going to have to delegate a good chunk of your cell-phone minutes to chat with the bride, who will ask your opinion on things like wedding saucers and items to include on her registry and what style flower girl dress she should pick out, things you probably don’t have the time, knowledge, or energy to care much about.
Being a bridesmaid can sometimes feel like that internship you did in college where you worked over 40 hours a week and never saw a paycheck.
That’s what Kevin Hart’s character makes a business out of – guys who don’t have that crew of pals to throw back a couple beers on a bachelor party and stand up next to them on their special day.
But Kevin Hart’s character makes it look fun.
He makes it look like all you need are some really popular dance moves and a selection of nicely tailored tuxedos and you’re ready for the party.
In real life, it’s a lot of work, and often the bride feels as though she doesn’t want to burden her friends with more and more tasks or late-night calls or games of 20-questions over what songs she should have the DJ play at the wedding or where her and her hubby-to-be should go to take their engagement photos.
That’s where I come in. That’s exactly what I’m there for.
That’s why brides all around the world ask me to be a part of their very special day, without ever meeting me in person first.
Sometimes brides hire me because they don’t have anyone else to ask. And you truly can’t blame them for that either.
The average person has less than a handful of very close friends, and sometimes those close friends live 2,000 miles away or have a minivan filled with kids already or they are so busy working on their career that they have to decline being your bridesmaid or your maid of honor. If you’re lucky, really lucky, you can ask a cousin or a sister, but if you don’t have any of those, then you may not have anybody to stand by your side and help you out.
I immerse myself in these bride’s lives. I start working with them anywhere from a year-and-a-half to three months before their wedding.
I often find myself chatting with my brides on a weekly or monthly basis, even sometimes in the middle of the night when a bride wakes up from a nightmare that she spilled a soft drink on her pearly white dress before her ceremony or that no one received her wedding invitations so no one will show up to the wedding. I take the 600 or so tasks that live inside the bride’s mental to-do list and I force her to get them out of their head and out on paper. I help them manage that list and take on a good portion of tasks myself, so that the bride doesn’t feel like she and the groom are in this adventure all by themselves.
I often go dress shopping and do dress fittings with the bride and go out to the occasional lunch so we can talk about how to divert her great uncle’s attention away from the open bar so he doesn’t get too drunk.
On the day of the wedding, I’m by the bride’s side, often more than her groom is. I make sure she’s constantly eating and hydrating just like I make sure she can go to the bathroom without the edges of her dress dipping themselves into the murky toilet bowl water. I answer her phone when it’s ringing off the hook with people calling with questions, slab on an extra layer of lip gloss before she walks down the aisle, and act as a camp counselor — making sure the other bridesmaids know where they need to be and when.
Kevin Hart’s character keeps his distance from the friend zone. I enter it with open arms. It’s the only way to do this job right. You learn so much about the bride and her family, that without even trying, you form a relationship. You have inside jokes and crave updates on each other’s lives. I’m okay with that.
I started this business because I noticed that often there was no one there for the bride. No one to look at her in the eyes right before she walked down the aisle and say to her, “Be in the moment. Don’t worry about your guests or your vendors or your other bridesmaids. Just remember every second of the next four hours of your wedding adventure.”
I’m there to be her personal assistant, her social director, and her on-call therapist. A bride should feel confident on their wedding day. I’m there to make sure she is.
That's what a real-life wedding ringer does.