Working 125+ Weddings as a Professional Bridesmaid Taught Me About Love, Marriage, & Heartbreak.
Spoiler alert: The lessons where shocking.
Welcome to The First Years of Marriage Newsletter! We talk about the conversations, challenges, and changes that begin once the honeymoon ends. Advice from experts, mistakes from me (Jen Glantz), and things you’re going to want to know as you continue to ask yourself this question - “I’m married, so now what?”
I've read practically every dating self-help book out there, watched all the famous romantic comedies, and even hired a matchmaker, but none of that taught me as much about love and relationships as being a hired bridesmaid for strangers.
I started my business, Bridesmaid for Hire, in 2014 and since then, hundreds of strangers from all over the world have paid me to show up at their wedding, thrown on a uniform dress, and help them through their big day.
As someone who was perpetually single for most of their 20s, I learned how to date, build strong relationships, and stay madly in love with a partner from my clients.
I also learned what not to do when you're looking for love.
After working the job for nearly seven years, here are the best love lessons I've learned.
Looking for and finding love can feel a little like a game
One of my first and favorite questions to ask the people I work with is how they met their fiancé.
I've heard so many different answers from in-person meetings at coffee shops and bookstores, to getting set up by friends or coworkers, to dating apps (the most common answer).
But an answer from one bride stood out to me and changed my outlook on dating.
She told me that she treated dating like a numbers game. She went out on as many first dates as she could, knowing that the more guys she met for a glass of wine or cup of coffee, the closer she'd get to meeting someone she adored. It took her seven first dates to meet the man she married.
This lesson taught me that finding love isn't easy.
If it's something you want, you have to put yourself out there and treat first dates like a prescreening interview for a job. If it goes smoothly, set up a second date.
I followed this bride's advice and ended up going on 15 first dates in one month. My husband was date number 15.
You can't judge a relationship from the outside
One of the most popular questions people ask me when they find out I'm a professional bridesmaid is whether I can predict if a relationship will last or not.
The truth is that I can't, and neither can anyone else.
You can't fully judge a relationship from the outside. Even if I see a couple that looks like they have nothing in common, I'm only seeing a chunk of the relationship, so it's nearly impossible to know if that couple is meant to be.
There have been so many couples I thought wouldn't make it to their one-year anniversary, but six years later, they seem happy and in love. On the other hand, some of the couples who I thought would grow old together got divorced after a year.
Nobody ever truly knows how strong and resilient someone else's relationship or love is.
Second-guessing yourself isn't always a bad thing when it comes to relationships
Early on, I learned something a lot of people consider to be taboo in the wedding sphere: Getting cold feet is real, and it happens more often than you'd think.
I've had brides on all different ends of the cold-feet spectrum. Some people hired me to help them end their engagement, others weren't sure if their fiancé was truly "the one," and a few wanted to pull a Julia Roberts on their wedding day and become a runaway bride.
I never judge anyone who's second-guessing their relationship because I've learned that love is a lot different than it's depicted in romantic comedies. It can be messy, unusual, and imperfect.
Now when I'm second-guessing love or my own relationship I don't panic or suppress those feelings. Instead, I either find someone I trust (like a therapist or marriage counselor) to talk through it or find some space and alone time to process the feelings on my own.
Love doesn't mean the same thing to everyone
Something I didn't really think about before I started working as a professional bridesmaid is that people get married for all different reasons and there are many definitions of love.
When I'd ask my clients how they knew this person was the one, their answers were never the same.
Some brides explained that they loved and wanted to marry their fiancés because they fully trusted them or felt comfortable being themselves around them, and others said they were simply eager to settle down or wanted financial security.
When people say they are in love, it can mean so many different things. People define love in a unique way that may never make sense to anyone else, but there's some beauty in that.
Love isn't always a straight line, and you don't have to follow a certain path to get there
I find it so interesting how long couples were together before they got engaged because it always varies.
I worked with one couple who knew each other for two weeks and another couple who knew each other for 10 years. One couple was even engaged five years ago, broke up, and got engaged for the second time.
This made me see that love isn't always linear, and there is no perfect timeline you have to be on.
I'd heard so many people say they hoped to meet someone, date them for a year, get engaged, and be married before their two-year anniversary. But that's not the only path to marriage, and letting go of that ideal can actually open more doors for love and happiness.
No matter how or when it happens, love isn't something to take for granted
My favorite part of any wedding is the ceremony because I love listening to the couple read their vows.
It's an emotional reminder that for a relationship to work and last so much has to go right.
We often take for granted meeting our partners and falling in love with them, but it's something we should cherish. I try to remember that there's a little bit of luck that goes into us stumbling upon the person we want to spend our lives with.
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