One New York City millennial shares her journey of finding her dream career and true love, all while juggling a truly unique job as the world’s only professional bridesmaid in this hilarious memoir that “will be relatable to anyone looking for love or just trying to figure things out” (PopSugar).
After moving to New York City in her mid-twenties to pursue her dream of writing—and of not living with her parents anymore—Jen Glantz looked forward to a future of happy hours and Sunday brunches with her besties.
What she got instead was a string of phone calls that began with, “Jen, I have something exciting to tell you!” and ended with, “I’d be honored if you would be my bridesmaid.” At first she was delighted, before she realized two things: all of her assets were tied up in bridesmaid dresses, and she was no closer to finding the One herself. She couldn’t do much about the second thing (though her mother would beg to differ), but she could about the first.
One (slightly tipsy) night, Jen posted an ad on Craigslist advertising her services as a professional bridesmaid. When she woke up the next morning, it had gone viral. What began as a half-joke suddenly turned into a lifetime of adventure for Jen—and more insight into the meaning of love than she was getting from Tinder—as she walked down the aisle at one complete stranger’s wedding after another.
Fresh, funny, and surprisingly sweet, When You Least Expect It is an entertaining reminder that even if you don’t have everything together, you can still be a total boss—or, at the very least, a BFF to another girl in need.
When You Least Expect It Prologue I “Uggghhh” Weddings When you live in New York City, it’s almost expected that people will see you at your very, very worst, very, very often. It’s built into the price you pay to live here, because you will at some point fall into the trap of believing that every block, every subway car, every splinter-ridden park bench is your own personal territory for having a full-blown mental breakdown.
I pinky-promise you that eventually you’ll stop thinking twice about walking down Third Avenue in the morning to buy a large cup of coffee, with your hair in a spider web of tangles and your bra everywhere but where it should be—which is on you. And you’ll stop noticing that everyone is staring at you as you publicly break up with the person who has had an iron grip on your heart. After all, if there isn’t a crowd of at least five total strangers watching, can you say it even really happened?
The comforting thing is that even when you’re at your worst, there’s always someone else one-upping you one block over. That’s why you don’t need to bat an eye when tourists turn their chunky DSLRs away from the Empire State Building and zoom in on your face, mid-ugly-cry.
I, however, am the kind of person who tries to keep my humiliations private. Like the time I had to be rescued from the bottom of my own closet.
“Hello?” I whispered in a delicate panic to the kind soul at the other end of the line at 9:00 p.m. on a Sunday. I had been organizing my long-neglected closet, only to be rewarded with every shelf collapsing on top of me, along with an avalanche of forgotten clothes that should’ve been donated to Goodwill years ago. The only parts of my body that hadn’t been temporarily paralyzed were my face and a single outstretched arm that had managed to reach my phone. I had dialed the only person I knew would pick up at that hour: my building’s on-call maintenance man.
“What’s the problem?” he asked, pushing a giant rock of phlegm up and down the bumpy lining of his esophagus.
“It’s an emergency,” I said, attempting to wiggle my toes beneath a pile of platform shoes that my friends and I had worn when we dressed up as the Spice Girls for Halloween. “My shelves collapsed, and now I’m trapped at the bottom of my closet.”
“Can’t you call someone else?” he asked, annoyed, clearly regretting giving me his personal cell phone number when I moved in.
“Well, I don’t have a—”
“A what? A boyfriend? A best friend? The ability to dial 911?”
I took a deep breath and imagined what would happen if I called 911 and they transferred me to the NYPD’s Seventeenth Precinct at 9:00 p.m. on a Sunday. I imagined what it would feel like to utter the words, “Help me! I’m trapped in my own mess of polyester and sequins,” to the city’s’ finest; how I’d have to beg and plead for them to stop handcuffing the guy trying to break into a non-twenty-four-hour CVS, or quit patrolling Fifth Avenue to come to the twenty-sixth floor of my apartment in Murray Hill just to rescue me from a pile of T-shirts I had bought seven years ago.
“Please don’t make me do that,” I whispered. “If you come, I’ll give you your Christmas bonus early.”
Those turned out to be the magical words. He arrived just a few minutes later in his bathrobe, my knight in fuzzy armor. I smiled because I knew he’d seen worse. Much worse.
“How did this happen?” he asked, peeling back layer after layer of clothing.
“Well, I read that it’s going to be fifty-five degrees tomorrow, so I was trying to grab a sweater from the top shelf when—”
“No,” he cut me off. “Not that. This!”
I craned my neck to see that he was holding in his wide-palmed hands not one, not two, not four, but nine bridesmaid dresses.
“It’s not what it looks like,” I said, worried that his judgment would crush me faster than the contents of my closet. “Trust me, I don’t even like weddings.”
I wasn’t totally lying to him either. When I was a little kid, the idea of my own wedding didn’t take up much real estate in my mind. Whenever I found myself scoring an invitation to a sleepover or to a lunch table in middle school, the girls would giggle over the cuts of their future rings, the colors of their future flowers, and the flavors of their future cakes, while I’d be off in the corner of someone’s bedroom or at the end of a table, crafting paper airplanes from expired love letters I was too afraid to send.
“You hate weddings?” my friend Samantha once asked me incredulously at her sleepover party, every syllable loaded with attitude. I watched as she brushed her Barbie doll’s bleach-blonde hair, her fish-like lips pursed in sour disapproval.
“I don’t hate them,” I said. Hate was a very strong word that my mom put in the same bucket as curse words; I was never allowed to use it. Whenever I had a staring contest with a plate of broccoli or a pile of homework, I would say I “uggghhhed” them instead.
“But don’t you want the flowers and the dress and the giant shiny ring?”
“Not really,” I said, thinking for a second and realizing I had never thought about it before. I was seven years old, and the only thing that regularly crossed my mind was which toy I’d score in my McDonald’s Happy Meal, or how I desperately wished I could sleep through the next lesson in long division.
All the other girls at Samantha’s sleepover talked about how they wanted this flavor cake and that color rose. How their dress would be a cascading waterfall of lace and they’d spend all night twirling around in it. They never mentioned the ooey-gooey love part. They never mentioned the person who would be standing beside them in the photos, at the altar, for the rest of their lives. Maybe that’s because back then, boys still had a major case of cooties.
“Look at her lopsided bangs,” one of the girls said about me as their tittering laughs ricocheted off the walls, hitting me right in the face.
“She’ll never get married,” another girl said as she slid into her Beauty and the Beast sleeping bag.
“You know what I think,” I said, as my cheeks flushed magenta and my voice sounded as if someone was shaking me uncontrollably, though nobody was. “I think if you find your forever person, you two should just do whatever you want.”
At that time, my forever person’s name was Lucas, and we had never spoken more than ten words to each other. Amy was his forever person, and she was sitting across the room from me right now, painting her nails with a coat of glitter and plotting the coordinates of their wedding in some exotic place, like the Amalfi Coast.
I wouldn’t say I was always averse to weddings—more like confused by them. I was three when I went to my first one. I was a junior flower girl, and my diaper matched my dress. My blanket, Mr. Blankenstein, was my plus-one. My mom had to bribe me with a caramel-flavored lollipop to stop sucking my thumb for a couple of minutes so I could use both hands to toss teardrop-shaped rose petals as I tiptoed in my Keds down the aisle.
I remember how the fragrance from the flowers tickled the edges of my nose, and when my uncle said, “I do,” I sneezed so loud that the rabbi had to make my aunt and uncle repeat their promise that they would always stick by each other’s side, no matter whose waistline expanded first.
I remember wondering why I was at a mini-circus, where everyone was drinking liquid that looked a little like pee and wearing fancy outfits that they could hardly move in, even though they had to spend the majority of the night moving around. I remember my dad cutting my food into tiny pieces and I remember sleeping a lot, passed out in my stroller beside someone’s ninety-three-year-old grandpa and a cousin who was slurring his words, which I later learned meant that he was sloshed. Weddings then seemed like fancy schmancy birthday parties where everyone walked around looking like they had a wedgie. I wondered if I’d ever be able to understand the point.
Now I’m twenty-eight, and all of my assets are tied up in bridesmaid dresses. My passport has stamps only from bachelorette party destinations like Cancun and four of the seven Sandals resorts. Every scar on my body is from getting dragged into mosh pits while trying to wrap my arms around a tossed bouquet. I repeat marriage vows in my head the same way people sing lyrics from a catchy song they’ve heard on the radio. And I know never, and I mean never, to let a bride have a Diet Coke before she’s about to walk down the aisle unless it’s through a straw and there’s a blanket splayed over her dress.
“So how did this happen?” the maintenance guy asked me once more, shaking a handful of chiffon.
“All of my friends got married,” I said, miserably.
“Always a bridesmaid,” he said, dropping the dress, grabbing both of my hands, and pulling me up from rock-bottom, sedentary state. “Never the bride.”
Jen Glantz is the world’s first professional bridesmaid and founder of Bridesmaid for Hire. She’s the heartbeat behind the website The Things I Learned From and is the author of the bestselling All My Friends are Engaged. She can be found in New York City wearing old bridesmaid dresses to the grocery store, or two-handing slices of one-dollar pizza.
“Writing with wit, self-awareness, and genuine interest in the life stories all around her, Glantz expresses a warm appreciation for everyone confronting the challenges she faces. Readers will feel as if they’re chatting with a friend, laughing while trading horror stories about the trials of dating, wedding mishaps, and that crazy job you love to hate. A winning suggestion for fans of Faith Salie, Sloane Crosley, and Mindy Kaling.”
“Funny and at times touching, the book is a thoroughly modern story about love and youth, right down to the open, not necessarily happy-ever-after ending. Quirky and bighearted."
– Kirkus Reviews
“If you've ever been to a wedding, been in a wedding, or had a wedding, this book will go down easier than the third rum and coke at your best friend's cousin's bachelorette party you somehow had to go to. With warmth, humor, optimism, and more than a few embarrassing moments, you'll bring a little bit of Jen Glantz to every wedding you go to from here on out. You can practically feel her cheering you on, or at least stressing out with you. I feel you, girl. And so will many others.”
– Alida Nugent, author of You Don’t Have to Like Me
"Meet the new best friend you didn't know you needed. Jen Glantz will find her way into your heart one first dance at a time. Always a Bridesmaid For Hire is the amusing real-life story of what happens when you carve a career path no one has ever heard of, and make everything up as you go along. This taffeta tale will leave you in stitches, wondering what REALLY happened behind the scenes at every wedding you've ever been to."
– Laurie Davis, author of Love at First Click
“Reading Always a Bridesmaid (for Hire) feels like splitting a bottle (or three) of wine with your funniest, most honest bestie, as she regales you with disastrous, thrilling, and just plain ridiculous stories from her life. Jen is hilarious, so real, and utterly full of heart--you can't help but fall more and more in love with her with every page."
– Gabi Moskowitz, co-author of Hot Mess Kitchen and producer of Freeform's Young & Hungry
“Humorous and poignant, Jen Glantz is the perfect blend of talented writer meets everyday girl. Jen is the kind of writer you admire while secretly wishing she were your best friend. This book will leave you nodding your head in agreement while cheering Jen on in her quests to embrace adulthood and discover love. A beautiful read!”
– Hannah Brencher, author of If You Find This Letter
“Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire) reminds me of the esteemed Nora Ephron, with the laugh-out-loud moments of David Sedaris. I read the last page and then thumbed right back to the first to re-read again. This book will introduce Jen Glantz to the world; you don't want to miss this skilled humorist’s debut.”
– Molly Ford Beck, founder of Smart, Pretty, & Awkward and host of Forbes’s Two Inboxes podcast
"[Glantz] writes in a charming and funny fashion that makes her easy to root for."