The surreal life of a professional bridesmaid


231 points | by Anon84 13 days ago


  • focusedone 12 days ago
    I worked at a wedding supply business during college and later as a photographer. I've probably been paid to attend a couple hundred weddings total.

    It's a great way to see a wide cross section of people in a very stressful situation. Some people get so wound up on every little detail and even minor deviations from an unattainable perfection result in an avalanche of emotion.

    Other people are totally chill and just there to celebrate something special with family and friends.

    Either way, I can 100% see the need / benefit of having a professional (or seasoned wedding attender) in the wedding party. Someone who's seen some stuff and stays calm when whatever nutso thing happens.

    Even perfectly reasonable, chill couples will have that one crazy aunt projecting expectations on everyone around them. Having someone close to the party who can identify and firewall the crazy can keep a wonderful day from becoming a stress fest.

    Anyway, the professional in the article identified a real felt need she could address and found a way to get paid fixing it. Good for her!

    • mejarc 12 days ago
      My courthouse wedding over 20 years ago cost $75, had no showers, no attendants, no reception, and was memorialized only by a snapshot taken by one of the affable court clerks. I've never regretted it. The only way my spouse and I pulled it off was to keep our plans secret from our families. My mother-in-law resents me for that to this day.
      • msabalau 12 days ago
        My wife and I did city hall, but with the encouragement of my mother-in-law who thought it was it was smart and sensible. (And, it was, in fact, what she had herself done.)

        I managed to persuade my wife and mother-in-law that could be fun to have a small celebratory reception for a close group of immediate family members, which we did three months later. Small and intimate, with 20 people, it was easy to pull off, and the official marriage details were already complete, so that was less pressure, and we could just focus on being present with our guests.

        And three months after that, we had a small reception with friends, because I persuaded my wife that her close friends would enjoy a chance to celebrate and see her in "the dress". Which they did.

        Splitting what would normally could be an overwhelming thing into three small parts removed a lot of stress, was cost effective, and also meant that the wedding gown got to be used three times, not once and then stored. Maybe not the best choice for everyone, but it can be a fun option.

        • r00fus 12 days ago
          Definitely support the "rolling thunder" approach to weddings vs "big bang" - our wedding years ago was in 3 different locations with 3 different groups (our kids are very multi-ethnic/national) over the course of a year and it would have been impossible to merge the 3 groups or expectations (we joked about "extending the tour" to other locations/groups but life intervened).
        • razakel 11 days ago
          It's not for everyone, but getting the formal process over and done with and having a less formal party at a later date will probably save you a lot of stress and money.

          Especially if you don't tell the venue that it's a special occasion...

      • PKop 12 days ago
        A huge portion of men would fine with this and wouldn't regret it either, but it doesn't happen that often for obvious reasons and likely never will.
        • saagarjha 12 days ago
          There's a comment right above yours from a woman who seems to disagree with the brush you're trying to paint her with. Maybe the generalization isn't particularly appropriate?
          • talldatethrow 12 days ago
            Are you familiar with what "often" means?

            For sure some women are ok with a court house and walking into a restaurant after without reservations.

            But not so many that you'd hear about it happening often.

      • groestl 12 days ago
        To each their own. Some people enjoy giving parties, and then it's just another reason to throw a big party.
        • KptMarchewa 12 days ago
          Then do a party. Or 3. It will be still cheaper, because anything in context of wedding makes the cost increase 5 times.
          • dap 12 days ago
            I think this is easier said than done. You can certainly save enormously by skipping a lot of the traditional stuff (nice meal, music, cake, attire, photographer, etc.) altogether. But there's a reason those things are popular. A nice meal, music, and dancing make a great way to include multiple generations (toddlers to elderly) and people who don't necessarily know each other well (and don't share interests) but are nonetheless important to you. Throw in a photographer because these events are often a treasured (and rare) source of extended family photos and you've accounted for most of the cost of my own wedding, which was about average.

            We looked for options to save by having a 20% "less nice" meal or a 40% "less good" photographer, but broadly speaking, those aren't really levers that we found. I guess you could try to lie to vendors and tell them that the music is for a retirement party and that they're going to be photographing a family reunion and hope they charge you less? I'm not sure the extra cost is as unreasonable as it sounds though. We were far from trying to "get every detail right", but we did want the stuff we paid for to show up. Just "showing up" with high probability is a substantially higher level of service than I get from most contractors/vendors/etc. that I've worked with more broadly in my life and I'm not surprised it would cost something.

          • IG_Semmelweiss 11 days ago
            actually, the key word is the word "wedding"

            you can have a party with roses, cake, dancing, food, photographer, and as long as it is introduced as a party (and not a wedding) there's research that suggests that on average, you will pay much less to all the contractors.

            So start your bid with the word party, and see what happens!

            • razakel 11 days ago
              The wedding tax is basically insurance - you're paying through the nose to ensure absolutely nothing goes wrong. From the contractor's side, at least; the behaviour of your guests is a different matter.
              • TeMPOraL 10 days ago
                In some cases, yes. In others... my wife tells me a bride will get overcharged less for the same hair styling if she says she's going to a wedding as a bridesmaid. Doesn't avoid the wedding tax, but at least gets a discount.
          • PKop 12 days ago
            Debating with men that a minimalist wedding will suffice is pretty humorous; these aren't the people that need convincing or dominating the demand for extravagant weddings.
        • lotsofpulp 12 days ago
          Weddings (and any other tradition/ritual that requires sacrifice) are also an opportunity to display a level of commitment to a broader tribe.

          Regardless of one’s philosophies, playing along with the broader group’s traditions and spending something (time/money/effort) to do it is a signal to the others for how invested you are in a particular group of people.

          Obviously, like anything else, it can be overdone. But it is not without value, and there is a reason wedding celebrations came into being in cultures around the world.

        • stuaxo 12 days ago
          I like the idea of the party being separate, so many of them the bride and groom aren't at the party too long as they disappear to spend time with each other.
      • giraffe_lady 12 days ago
        My wedding was the only time in my entire life I had every person I love together in the same room. Worth ten thousand dollars or more.
        • AtlasBarfed 12 days ago
          So it's all about you?
          • mauvehaus 12 days ago
            It's also a rare opportunity to get wholly disjoint sets of people together, all of whom presumably also love the bride and/or groom.

            It's a neat way for people to meet each other who wouldn't otherwise and for them to find out what they have in common besides the happy couple.

          • polishdude20 11 days ago
            Many of my family members in Europe would only pay for a ticket and board and all the hassle to visit me IF it was for a wedding .
          • guizzy 12 days ago

            Her wedding? Well, yeah, that's kind of the point, isn't it? It being a day all about her and her mate?

            • MichaelZuo 12 days ago
              If lots of people are invited to a wedding, it can't realistically all be about 'her', since it's impossible to expect guests to not have their own thoughts and opinions that are not fully identical.

              It's pretty common in fact for major family disputes to be resolved, or begin, at big weddings that only involve the bride incidentally.

              • lukan 12 days ago
                It depends how much energy you spend giving into all the family dramas. Who wants to sit with whom. Who will have this reaction meeting this one, but not that one, who has what expectations in general ... but who cares. It is our wedding, not theirs.

                We so far have postponed the big wedding, but when we do, the idea is to have a place big enough, food, drinks music. Fun place for the kids. Everyone invited. And then people can enjoy it, or not. I plan to be on the dance floor.

          • elevatedastalt 12 days ago
            Who else is it supposed to be about on the wedding day? An HN commenter?
            • TeMPOraL 10 days ago
              The guests, actually, but this only strengthens GGP's point, not GP's.
      • TeMPOraL 11 days ago
        > My mother-in-law resents me for that to this day.

        While I'm a fan of your approach, and our wedding was also a small, close family + few friends dinner, I think your MiL's reaction may reflect a generational/cultural shift of expectations. Today, weddings are seen (by the young) and advertised as being focused on, and done for, the newlyweds - but traditionally, weddings were done for everyone else. It was celebrating the culmination of efforts of both family branches that brought up those two people and got them to the point of marrying.

        Still, even as I sometimes wonder if some family member resents us for denying them the opportunity for a large traditional outing - of which there are so few once you're a working adult - I still don't think it's wise to hold an expensive wedding party, much less take a loan for it. After all, traditionally, weddings were oragnized and funded by the guests, not by the newlyweds.

      • sverona 12 days ago
        My husband and I did this, basically.

        Our idea is to do the whole celebration thing in a few years. We'll renew our vows for an anniversary and do all the planning then.

        • romwell 12 days ago
          We told nobody. Booked a ticket to Hawaii, found a non-religous person who could officiate, hired a photographer, and had a little ceremony on the beach just for us two.

          10/10, good memories, no regrets.

          Still wasn't free though; creating an event even for just the two of us required money.

          Our friends did a basic courthouse ceremony in town with a restaurant party afterwards, and they spent less than we did (if you count in the cost of of flight and hotel into it). Me and another friend did their wedding shots though.

          My point is that even when you're not doing for others, weddings cost money for the same reasons that vacations do. Setting aside time and space for a group of people to have a good time together is very hard to do without running into expenses.

          People in this thread saying they spent next to nothing on their wedding are like those who boast that their staycation cost $12 for the bottle of wine.

          Saying that they decided not to celebrate getting married is a more straightforward way to say the same thing, which is fine.

          But the "hurr durr you don't need all those expenses, my wedding cost $3.50 in court fees" signaling isn't any better than "We had to cut on everything and had a cheap wedding, in the $30,000-40,000 range". The latter isn't cheap, the former isn't what people would call having a wedding, and in both cases there's a surprise about other people not wanting the same thing as you do (whereas you, of course, did it the right way).

          In the end of the day, if you want to spend a day in a certain way, and you spend your money to do it, then it's the right way for you to have a wedding and the right amount to spend on it.

          The only important thing to not leave out is to have space, respect, and care for you and your own happiness in your own wedding, and have agency in how it all happens (you as in you AND your partner in all of the above).

          And looks like that's exactly what you're doing with your plan. Congratulations on your marriage!

          • alex-korr 11 days ago
            We did just that. Went to Vegas and got a city hall thing done. 25 years later, no one gives a toss about us not blowing $10k on a wedding. We bought a house with that money as a down payment.
            • romwell 11 days ago
              >We did just that. Went to Vegas and got a city hall thing done. 25 years later, no one gives a toss about us not blowing $10k on a wedding. We bought a house with that money as a down payment.

              Yeah, we had to put 10x as much for a downpayment for a townhouse in the Bay Area two years ago.

              Let's say, saving on wedding to buy a house ain't working no more in this economy.

      • NegativeLatency 12 days ago
        > My mother-in-law resents me for that to this day She's welcome to finance and plan a party.

        We managed to keep our costs down to $5k before the pandemic but it was hard and stressful.

      • Waterluvian 12 days ago
        My wife and I did a city wall wedding and invited nobody. We had doubts but conviction to do it. As the years go on we only become more confident about that choice.
        • invalidlogin 12 days ago
          What is this?
          • IG_Semmelweiss 11 days ago
            its a location in the show "South Park"
          • Waterluvian 12 days ago
            Apparently it’s a typo. City hall.

            City. Hall. Dang it I’m calling it a night.

    • Waterluvian 12 days ago
      This is a kind of person that people just generally need in their friend group for life.
  • pjc50 12 days ago
    Not an entirely new profession. In the past, this sort of thing used to happen more often with funerals and professional mourners; now that has well and truly gone in the West.

    There is an anecdote in Naples 44 about how the narrator's "fixer" in Naples had had a side gig as an "uncle from Rome" at funerals. By turning up in the right suit with the right accent and social graces this would enhance the social status of the deceased.

    There used to be something of a market for "professional token Westerner" in Chinese events. I've no idea if that's still a thing.

    • timmg 12 days ago
      > There used to be something of a market for "professional token Westerner" in Chinese events. I've no idea if that's still a thing.

      About ten years ago, my wife and I visited China (with private guides). We were in a medium-sized town -- don't remember which, but might have been the one with the panda preserve. We had lunch scheduled at a local restaurant in town.

      The restaurant was on the second floor. As the elevator went up, we heard a thumping sound like a bass drum. The elevator opened and we were in the middle of the start of an elaborate wedding. It seems that the restaurant was booked for this wedding, but we still had seats off to the side.

      It was just coincidence that we got there just as things were getting started. As we made our way around the outside of the room, we happened to pass the bridal party.

      As we were passing, the bride-to-be stopped us an graciously thanked us for coming to her wedding (in English) and said they were honored to have us.

      It was very surreal. The wedding itself was like a mini rock concert with many people on stage at various times -- including (I remember) two women in white dresses rocking out on electric violins.

      • CydeWeys 12 days ago
        Oh man that's hilarious. Your tour group hornswoggled you into being the token Westerner, and you paid for the privilege!
      • kurthr 12 days ago
        Possibly near Chengdu, Mianyang?

        I'll agree with others, this was unlikely to be an accident. But hey, you were entertained and they got to show off their English!

        • timmg 12 days ago
          It was _probably_ Chengdu. That would be funny if it was on purpose!
    • AlecSchueler 12 days ago
      My father was cremated last year. He had no friends at the time of his death. The undertakers had extra staff on hand to watch the service and fill the empty chairs. Professional mourners are still active in the west, at least in the north of Ireland.
      • throw0101c 12 days ago
        > My father was cremated last year. He had no friends at the time of his death.

        Something that often happens with men: they tend to (on average) not be as big social butterflies as women, and so any past friends they had fade into the background/disappear. It takes time/effort to keep relationships going.

        "Why most men don't have enough close friends"


        "Men have fewer friends than ever, and it’s harming their health"


        "Men’s Social Circles are Shrinking"


        "Men struggle to keep friends — and it’s hurting their mental health"


        "More than 1 in 7 men have no close friends. The way we socialize boys is to blame":


        Also, with people having fewer children (if any), support structures toward the end of life are getting smaller and smaller.

        • ThrowawayR2 12 days ago
          Macabre though it may be, I've often thought about submitting a YC proposal for a startup that provides professional executor services for those who are facing death alone. Demand is only going to increase as time goes by and, as many internet articles show, it can be difficult to find an executor that one trusts if they have a small social circle.
          • bennettnate5 12 days ago
            Just to clarify for everyone (because I totally misread this the first time):

              Executor - A person officially appointed to carry out your will after you have passed
              Executioner - A person officially appointed to carry out your passing
            • ASUfool 12 days ago
              As the executor of my dad's estate, he would have fun with the similar words and call me his ex eh cuter.

              Thanks for reminding me of our shared joy of words. :)

              R.I.P. Dad.

            • rightbyte 12 days ago
              There have to been fatal mixups regarding this. Maybe not as bad as "inflammable".
              • hatthew 11 days ago
                I will never not be upset with the world for deciding that flammable and inflammable are synonyms
            • knodi123 12 days ago
              although in both cases, Trust is very important.
          • throw0101c 12 days ago
            > a YC proposal for a startup that provides professional executor services

            There are law firms already doing this. From a quick search of my area (Toronto, Canada):




          • azinman2 12 days ago
            Seems odd to make that a VC-backed entity. That said I think the most important aspect is knowing the service will be around when you die. Updating wills, plans is expensive, and if someone has dementia etc and this goes bust because 90% of “startups” do, then that’s a real problem.
            • resolutebat 12 days ago
              But just imagine all the "growth hacks" you could do, both to increase the dearly departed clientele and the amount of profit you could extract from them!
              • TeMPOraL 10 days ago
                That's a tough market to break into. Pretty much everything servicing people past the age of retirement is already set up to suck out maximum amount of wealth from their "customers" before they pass. GGP's best chance is to simultaneously expand and capture the younger side of the market. To move fast, they might need to break some things, ignore ethics, laws, or basic human decency here and there - all par for the course for a modern VC-backed startup.
          • michaelt 12 days ago
            In the UK, some solicitors and accountants already provide this service.

            They don't market it as "facing death alone" though, they market it more as "giving the family time to grieve" and "getting complex paperwork right"

          • ebiester 12 days ago
            Lawyers already do this. What would you have as a value add?
          • razakel 11 days ago
            Almost every law firm already offers this. What would you bring to the table? Counselling on the prospect of facing death?
          • echion 12 days ago
        • danenania 12 days ago
          Apart from this issue, which is certainly important, almost anyone can end up without friends at the end of their lives if they outlive their friends and have no opportunities to make new ones as they get older.
        • AlecSchueler 12 days ago
          He was a paedophile and a serial sex offender who alienated most of his friends and family, dying with more enemies than friends. Sexual violence is also more prevalent in men and it's important to remember that so we can be more responsible parents and educators for young boys.
        • hoseja 11 days ago
          Male friendships are existentially dangerous to the State. No wonder they are mysteriously disappearing.
          • 2devnull 11 days ago
            Interesting comment. By what mechanisms would you suggest the disappearing is being carried out by the State? The State is threatened by power, obviously love and friendship are powerful things, but there aren’t in actuality any political efforts that are overtly targeting male friendships that I can think of. Maybe fbi infiltration of men’s rights groups and boys clubs like proudboys, MS13 and the freemasons?
            • Der_Einzige 11 days ago
              One of my bosses was a high ranking mason. I asked him about the Freemason conspiracy theory stuff. He told me he’s not sure “who’s infiltrating who” in regards to the relationship between masons and other groups like who you mention.
        • wonderwonder 12 days ago
          Yup, when I go I expect it will just be my kids there and my wife. Same situation happened when my dad died, just us kids.
      • sokoloff 12 days ago
        I had a bit of the opposite experience when an ex-colleague passed end of last year. About 25 of us from one company he worked at showed up to the wake and it was slightly awkward to tell the family and friends who we were and what connection we had (he hadn’t worked there for about 9 years and I was the only person who still worked at the company, but we all turned out because we genuinely cared about him).

        But talking to his wife and family in the receiving line was super-awkward. I hope they found it at least epsilon comforting.

        • monknomo 12 days ago
          I had a similar experience when a co-worker passed. It was awkward, but I do hope the family felt something positive from seeing that a part of their loved one's life they don't normally see also cared for him.
        • OJFord 12 days ago
          Why was it awkward? Because there were few enough family & others that it was dominated by former colleagues from one seemingly random employer?
          • sokoloff 12 days ago
            No; in a 2 hour wake, there were probably 150 or more people in total. The awkwardness was mostly having to explain "yeah, you've never met me and he hasn't worked with us for almost a decade, but hey, here we are..."
            • vimax 12 days ago
              Not awkward at all. I'm sure the family was touched that you still thought about him after all those years.
            • theflyingelvis 12 days ago
              My 27 y/o nephew passed away last year. He worked at a mid sized tech firm and many of the folks from the firm showed up at the funeral. His parents really appreciated the folks showing up. So, yeah, not awkward at all.
        • jedberg 12 days ago
          Probably more common than you think. I worked at a 150 person startup for my first job. About five years later one of the guys got into a motorcycle accident and died.

          About 50 of the people that I used to work with showed up to his partner's house for the "wake". We were the majority of the attendees. It turned into kind of a reunion for us as well.

          His partner genuinely appreciated how much we all cared for him even so many years after not working together.

          RIP Chuck, we still miss you buddy.

          (One of my favorite Chuck stories that any time he started at a new company, he would always set the variable part of the MAC address on his workstation to C0FFEE)

      • bombcar 12 days ago
        This also happens just in general; the staff of the funeral home often attends the service just because they'd have nothing else to do and need to assist with transfer to the hearse, grave, etc.

        It's only really noticed when it's a small service.

        In the USA if you're a veteran or veteran associated the local VFW will send out a color guard to attend.

      • lupire 12 days ago
        I'm sorry for your loss.

        How many staff vs other attendees?

        I don't see the value of that scenario. Who is saving face?

        • michaelt 12 days ago
          Presumably it's for the benefit of the survivors.

          Going to your dad's or your husband's funeral would already be pretty depressing. For it to be a poorly attended funeral would make it even moreso, for some folks.

          Especially if you're big on the idea of the deceased living on in the memory of all the people whose lives they touched. Or if the deceased actually had a great many friends, but lived to an old enough age their friends predeceased them.

          Plus, if you're going for the type of funeral with lots of hymns and singing and prayers and suchlike, a few more voices can help things along.

          And while you might strongly suspect the surviving relatives are all indifferent to the funeral being poorly attended, it's not like you get a do-over if it turns out on the day they're less stoic than you imagined.

          • dylan604 12 days ago
            I seriously doubt the family of the type of person that would have nobody attend their funeral would be surprised by that fact, and would probably be wondering why they showed up at all themselves.
            • mynameisvlad 12 days ago
              This is such a callous statement.

              Maybe all their friends already died. Maybe they just were never social outside of their family.

              Whatever the reason, nobody should have to go into a relative’s (or, really, anyone else’s) funeral and see it empty. That’s going to do nothing but twist the dagger of the death more.

              • dylan604 12 days ago
                And how would you feel if you were to find out that the funeral director tried to gamify the funeral by having seat fillers? That's even more insulting that someone tried to pull one over, and feeds directly into the stereotype that funerals try to gouge the families.
                • mynameisvlad 12 days ago
                  I would certainly be happier than seeing absolutely nobody on top of grieving for a loss.

                  As someone that has had to grieve alone, I don’t think you understand the comfort that comes from having somebody there.

                  Also, this is most assuredly a service they'd be providing. Nobody is going to be "gouged". Nothing is being "gamified". Nobody is "pulling one over". Those are all based on an assumption that this isn't part of a planned process, which literally every part of a funeral is.

                  • AlecSchueler 12 days ago
                    Yes, it's very true in my experience with undertakers that they are very respectful even in business matters. They ask you if you would like something but there's never a sense of pressure, and they're very accommodating to alternatives. I've also found them to be very professional and efficient in operation in a way that is itself a comfort in difficult times.

                    But I wanted to say that you're quite right that it's very helpful to have someone to hear. The people who live on with memories of the departed need to have their stories heard.

        • AlecSchueler 12 days ago
          There were about 6 staff and about the same number of attendees including myself, that was his brothers, sisters and son.

          His brother organised the funeral and accepted this offer from the undertakers. His brother is a practicing Christian. I had the impression that the numbers were mostly inflated to save the minister from the shame of giving a memorial service to someone so few people wanted to remember.

        • euroderf 12 days ago
          Maybe it's just the Christian thing to do.
    • nradov 12 days ago
      Professional token westerners (white monkeys) are still a thing in China. The government has even started hiring them for propaganda purposes.

    • neom 12 days ago
      Per your last point, I worked at a very very very large Korean company for a while (In Korea), and when they had a meeting with the EU they would make sure they had some "흰 가구" (white furniture) - I found it quite amusing personally, others not so much.
    • Turing_Machine 12 days ago
      That's been around for a long time. In ancient Rome, hired mourners were basically expected of anyone of any real social status.

      The professional mourners included actors who wore masks of the deceased and any prominent ancestors, and imitated their mannerisms and speech to the best of their ability.

    • lupire 12 days ago
      "DEI with Chinese Characteristics"
      • carlosjobim 12 days ago
        Your comment is down voted, while the comment above calling people of a certain race "monkeys" is upvoted. That says something about the crowd here.

        Reminds me of the images of George W Bush as a chimpanzee. Didn't see any more such images when he got his successor.

        • duskwuff 12 days ago
          > the comment above calling people of a certain race "monkeys" is upvoted

          If you're referring to nradov's comment, 白猴子 (lit. "white monkey") is a commonly used term in China for a token Westerner.

        • woooooo 12 days ago
          "DEI with Chinese characteristics" is hilarious, downvotes are probably just reflexive anti-politics.
        • jplrssn 12 days ago
          Surely you know that the history of using "monkey" as an epithet is extremely charged? It is not a neutral term.
          • stronglikedan 12 days ago
            Only regionally. In the global context, it's quite neutral.
          • fxtentacle 11 days ago
            People in Asia use "monkey" as a cutesy word for kids, to highlight that the kid is strong/healthy and can climb well.
          • carlosjobim 12 days ago
            Why do you think I mentioned that hackers are upvoting a comment calling people of a certain skin color monkeys?
          • ThrowawayTestr 12 days ago
            I look forward to the day where I can call a black man a monkey and it only be considered an insult instead of a racist insult.
  • guidoism 12 days ago
    When I was 23 years old, just out of college, just moved across the country my friend from high school got married. We never talked over the phone or email just hung out when we were both in our hometown.

    He asked me (along with the rest of our group) to be in his wedding. He was the first of my friends to get married.

    When I arrived I was appalled at the amount of money I was expected to pay. I paid for the plane flight across the country, yes that was expected. I got to the hotel and checked into the room he reserved for me but I had to pay for that (I would have gotten a cheaper hotel if I had known). The next day we drove out to a tux place and I was fitted for the tux. And I had to pay for that too, I think it was like maybe $150 to rent the tux. I was blown away by the costs of everything. Then during the wedding I find out that I'm an usher, I was just there to walk guests to their seats.

    I think I paid like $600, not something I could easily afford 23 years ago.

    It wouldn't have big that big of a deal if I had known beforehand but the costs were completely unexpected. I know better now. And have happily paid, but people getting married should be upfront with their wedding party how much it's going to cost them to be in the wedding.

    • raptorraver 12 days ago
      My sister just told that she's flying to Italy for her friend's weddings next summer. I asked if her friend's future husband is from Italy or if they have some connection there: nope, they decided to arrange it there because it's much cheaper for them. Don't think they though about the costs for their guests, nor environment.
      • thebradbain 12 days ago
        Been to a few destination weddings (Mediterranean coast, India, Montana), and I think they’re the most fun, by far.

        All 3 of them being for close friends and family, I have come to understand the expectation to be:

        If it’s too much, or you don’t want to travel that far, or you’re busy— no worries! If you do, great, we invited you because we want to celebrate with you too, so why not make a big trip of it?

        And then usually followed by a more casual reception closer to home for those family and friends who wanted to make it but couldn’t for whatever reason.

    • onlyrealcuzzo 12 days ago
      > but people getting married should be upfront with their wedding party how much it's going to cost them to be in the wedding.

      Are you not from the states?

      It's common knowledge / assumed that you pay for everything beside dinner and drinks.

      • guidoism 11 days ago
        I’m from the states but I was 23 and it was the first wedding I’d ever been to. And I guess wedding costs for guests wasn’t a topic anyone around me ever brought up.
      • KittenInABox 12 days ago
        I was surprised by this too. I was raised in the states but my family is extremely chill when it comes to weddings, never more than a small ceremony at court + dinner.
      • antifa 11 days ago
        I've been to several weddings and honestly never heard of anything like this.
    • titanomachy 12 days ago
      That all sounds pretty normal to me, except maybe “I was just there to walk guests to their seats”. Not many people can afford flights, hotel rooms, and clothes for every member of their wedding party.
      • krisoft 12 days ago
        > Not many people can afford flights, hotel rooms, and clothes for every member of their wedding party.

        That is fine. I think what is missing is the communication about these in the story.

        If you choose and book the hotel room for me I will assume you will pay for it. If not you should make it very clear what is the cost to me and make it clear that it is optional. For example by saying “The reception will be at the X hotel. Most of us will stay there. The rooms for x night will cost Y. Of course we understand if you shop around, but do let us know if you want us to book a room at X for you.”

        Same with clothes. To be honest unless explicitly agreed i would assume everyone brings their clothes from home. If you insist on people wearing matching outfits and you don’t want to pay for it… it is hard to make that happen in an ethical way.

        Basically just some elementary level of awerness that while the day is Very Important for you it is just a party for others, and also that people have different financial situations.

  • d--b 12 days ago
    > Her life is a romantic comedy waiting to happen.

    For those who wonder, I’ll save you the google search: yes the movie has been made and is called “the professional bridesmaid”. it was released in 2023.

    • bewaretheirs 12 days ago
      Gilbert and Sullivan's "Ruddigore" (first performed in 1887) features a chorus of "professional bridesmaids" who are experiencing a bit of a lull in business:

        Hannah: Nay, gentle maidens, you sing well but vainly, for Rose is still heart-free, and looks but coldly upon her many suitors.
        Zorah: It's very disappointing.  Every young man in the village is in love with her, but they are appalled by her beauty and modesty, and won't declare themselves; so, until she makes her own choice, there's no chance for anybody else.
        Ruth: This is, perhaps, the only village in the world that possesses an endowed corps of professional bridesmaids who are bound to be on duty every day from ten to four--and it is at least six months since our services were required.  The pious charity by which we exist is practically wasted!
    • throwup238 12 days ago
      Considering how many times the subject ends up crying in a bathroom in the article, it should be more of a dark tragicomedy.
      • mcphage 12 days ago
        Weddings are emotional events, even at the best of times. But also a lot of effort and planning and stress.
        • arethuza 12 days ago
          My wife's mother was very keen on a large wedding, my wife wasn't - we were watching a holiday program on TV and they had weddings in Mauritius and she announced "we're doing that!".

          Anyway, we ended up getting married in the Seychelles and it was blissful and zero stress... and cost a lot less than a normal marriage. That was 34 years ago so something must have worked.

          • davidgay 12 days ago
            There's also the "get married on top of Half-Dome trick" (13km hike one way, 1.6km elevation gain for non-Californians) - keeps the wedding party small and fit!

            I didn't do it, but did see one ;)

          • cafard 12 days ago
            Less when counting in transportation? Where did you live at the time?
            • michaelt 12 days ago
              Destination weddings can save a lot of money by having far fewer guests, while still retaining the most-important-day-of-your-life glamour that a small scale registry office wedding might lack.

              Obviously, you can have a small scale wedding in your home country. But a lot of people feel they ought to invite their second-cousin-twice-removed and their family of five, while spending £200 a head on venue and food costs.

              If attending the wedding needs a £1000 flight and a week off work, your guest list will drop from 100 people to 10.

              • com 12 days ago
                We did an almost-free registry office thing (the free ones were booked out a year in advance). One witness from each side and a surprise attendee who was literally in town at the time (we didn’t invite friends and family because of family drama and logistics issues).

                It was a very sweet event where the registrant and their assistant were clearly hopeless romantics - they told us, true or not, that they had won the in-office ballot for who could marry us after we charmed the intake panel when we went in to book - the historic room was intimate and charming and the party we organised that evening for unsuspecting local friends was a huge success.

                All up it must have cost us less than two hundred euros, and was an unutterably perfect day. And our unexpected guest took a great video (which seems to have been lost somehow :-)

                For some people, simple and small is impossible to beat!

              • KineticLensman 12 days ago
                > If attending the wedding needs a £1000 flight and a week off work, your guest list will drop from 100 people to 10.

                That didn't work (in fact wasn't intended) for my niece when she got married.

                The hotel deal (all inclusive in Cyprus) made it much cheaper for them than an equivalent do in the UK - e.g. cheaper extras such as videographers than in the UK, bigger meal, etc. The resort-style hotel was also cheaper than staying in the UK and the long lead times made flights / bookings quite affordable. Some of the guests treated it as an annual beach holiday with added party.

                (Personally I thought it was ghastly)

              • arethuza 12 days ago
                The hotel we were at arranged a free room swap with another couple on another island for a few days so we even got a "honeymoon". We went to this hotel for a few nights:


              • throw0101c 12 days ago
                > Destination weddings can save a lot of money by having far fewer guests […]

                I do not know which cultural background you are from, but with my background, guests generally show up with Hallmark® envelopes containing cash. If you budget assiduously it may even be possible to turn a profit on the reception.

                • michaelt 12 days ago
                  In my country the tradition is to gift things for the couple to start their own home together (e.g. useful household goods) with value roughly in line with the cost of inviting you.

                  And this no doubt made great sense when people got married young, and someone gifting them a set of pots and pans was just what they needed.

                  In the present age, where people frequently live together before marriage and get married later in life, they generally already have all the pots and pans they need.

                  So often the couple will either say they don't need any gifts, or they'll end up with luxury replacements for what they already had (e.g. copper bottomed pans to replace stainless steel)

                  You might not consider it a loss but if inviting your second-cousin-twice-removed and their family converts £1000 of cash into £1000 of luxury saucepans you end up with a lot less cash on hand.

                  • throw0101c 12 days ago
                    > In my country the tradition is to gift things for the couple to start their own home together (e.g. useful household goods) with value roughly in line with the cost of inviting you.

                    If couples need things they set up a registry for any items they want. If there is no registry, bring cash. :)

                    The general expectation is either you'll buy a gift or give cash (to at least cover the rough cost of you attending).

            • arethuza 12 days ago

              So we had to fly from Edinburgh -> LHR -> Seychelles

              Looking at the current price from the same travel company and hotel it would be ~£8K - still cheaper than most weddings. The actual cost of the "wedding" part was pretty small.

              Edit: One thing I do remember is that flight out was full of stressed out newly weds!

            • rsynnott 12 days ago
              I assume the theory is that most people won't want to travel to Mauritius for a wedding, so you end up with a smaller wedding.

              (Of course, you could just invite fewer people, either.)

  • andy99 12 days ago
    The most interesting part to me was the trend of hiring birds of prey as ring bearers (link from the article)

    What could possibly go wrong?

    • HanClinto 12 days ago
      They should have used the eagles to transport the ring.
    • technion 12 days ago
      I had an owl deliver the ring to my wedding. A decade on people still talk about it.
    • mcphage 12 days ago
      “Just so we’re clear, you’re saying ‘Ring Bear-er’, right?” - repeated joke from the final season of How I Met Your Mother
      • mauvehaus 12 days ago
        My wife's nephew's official printed-on-the-programs role at our wedding was "ring bear". Regrettably, he could not be convinced to roar as he bore the rings.
    • htrp 12 days ago
      Not quite that much..... but it's still a crazy idea
  • RcouF1uZ4gsC 12 days ago
    This seems like it is a consequence of shrinking family size and people not having extended family. See the discussion today on HN about lack of cousins:

    In the past, you had more relatives than spots. Now many people have more spots than relatives.

    • marcus0x62 12 days ago
      Sure, and the pressure some people place on themselves to have a "perfect" wedding. Wedding culture, at least in the US, is completely out of control. The whole thing is a weird (mostly) self-inflicted scam meant to separate people, usually just starting out in life, from their money. As much of their money as possible.

      I was talking about this a while back with a co-worker about 20 years older than me: when I got married (around 15 years ago,) we spent like 6 grand, all in. He said 'man, when I got married we used the rec room at our church for free and got a sheet cake from the grocery store.' That would have been in the early 80's. He and his wife are still married, and, so far as I can tell, have not suffered from the lack of a supremely expensive wedding.

      • russfink 12 days ago
        Comedian Jim Gaffigan does a bit on weddings - it’s when you get to be a princess. Of course, kingdoms don’t come cheap.
      • RajT88 12 days ago
        I've been to a few weddings at VFW's in small towns. They were no better (or worse) than the big fancy ones! The couples fared no better (or worse) than any others.
      • smegger001 12 days ago
        Sounds like mine only it was cheesecakes from Costco and 8 years ago. Also my grandfather officiated as he was ordained so I didn't need to pay a justice of the peace or a minister. Also the ring was from a pawnshope so the diamond was closer to its value rather that the inflated price the diamond cartel would have you pay.
      • toss1 12 days ago
        Good on you both! I've often heard that the wedding spend total is inversely proportional to the length of the marriage.

        (When the spending is crazy, one must ask what 'for what are they compensating?').

        • aidenn0 12 days ago
          My wife was an only child from a wealthy family; short of destroying the relationship with her mother, we had little say in the cost of the wedding[1]. That being said, it really was a lovely wedding and a good time was had by all.

          1: We compromised; the ceremony was all us, her mom planned the reception, with input from us. It is still mind-boggling to me how much her mom was invested; they normally get along fine (both before and since), but I was seriously worried that planning the wedding would destroy their relationship.

        • qingcharles 12 days ago
          $25K on mine. Lasted four years, although that was mostly my fault.
          • a_shoeboy 12 days ago
            $6K on mine, 17 years and counting. How many more of these anecdotes do we need before can call it data?
            • michaelt 12 days ago
              Somewhat unexpectedly, [1] which is based on actual university research, reports the opposite: Figure 9 says people who had more guests at their wedding report better marriage outcomes - even after controlling for income, education, race/ethnicity and religiousness.

              Of course, if you want to discard the research and stick with your anecdotes, it was partly funded by a charity founded by a guy who believed in 'strong families'.


              • aidenn0 12 days ago
                You'd probably want to control for wealth to get good data. Marriage duration is correlated with wealth, and wealthy people probably spend more on everything, weddings included.

                [edit] nevermind, the the posted link claims the figures are controlled for several factors, including income and education, which both correlate with wealth.

        • mattgreenrocks 12 days ago
          This is the sort of thing people never really warn you about.
    • bluGill 12 days ago
      What happened to friends though?
      • rsynnott 12 days ago
        From the article, it seems like the people she was helping generally _had_ friends doing it as well; her role really seems to be more of a combo wedding planner/crisis management thing.
        • baking 12 days ago
          I don't think so. They are very different roles.
      • Uvix 12 days ago
        WFH happened.
        • master-lincoln 12 days ago
          Only related for people whose sole friends are from their work, no?
          • ghettoCoder 12 days ago
            Friend circles have generally been primarily driven by proximity, with school & work being the main environments. Take away the forced socializing of work and all of sudden you have late 20s people with few or no friends since drifting away from most school friendships.

            The pandemic taught me that absent forced social interactions such as work meetings, water cooler chat, etc... it takes deliberate actions to maintain social relationships, more so the secondary relationships. It's just too easy to dive into our work all day without speaking to anyone not in our direct line of reporting.

            • saalweachter 12 days ago
              I think this is also why we feel so betrayed by tech layoffs.

              Everyone gets laid off, we aren't special here, but what's a little unusual is that tech employees are highly migratory.

              You get out of college, and you move to one of a handful of tech centers, in the US and around the world. And then -- fostered by the company -- you build your new social circle out of everyone you've met at work who is in the same situation of having just moved a thousand miles and started a new chapter of their life. You go out for dinner and drinks after work, you start boardgame nights, you play in a work-based soccer league. Your entire social life revolves around your friends from work.

              And then, the company decides to cut headcount.

              Tech employees have it a lot easier than, say, factory workers in most ways, when we're laid off. We've probably got more savings, our job market tends to be hotter, and we're not looking for work in one of the two places in town, one of which has already laid us off.

              But it really takes a knife to your social circle, which stings, even if you're not the person laid off. I'm not sure it affects people who are working a job in their home town, with all their old friends and family and social activities linked to geography instead of employment, in the same way.

            • spazx 12 days ago
              In my professional experience (since before the pandemic), I've been encouraged not to mix work with my personal life. Regardless, even when I ignored this advice and did share personal details and be myself, the interactions have always felt disingenuous. For me at least, being an actual friend and keeping up a professional appearance are mutually exclusive.

              I suppose I've personally been very fortunate to remain friends with a lot of people from my childhood, and meet others through them. Even the people I have met through friends only recently, feel more genuine than older personal connections made through work. (None of my friends spend personal time with people they've met through work, either!)

              Interactions with work people will always have that veneer of trying to look and sound one's best in the professional sense, in protection of one's career. In friendships you shouldn't be afraid to show your flaws, imperfections, personal beliefs, personal history, the squishy parts.

  • themadturk 12 days ago
    I got married 42 years ago next month. We had hardly any money, but had a full-blown church wedding. My wife's mother made the wedding gown as a wedding gift. Her dad, a certified gemologist, designed and made the ring (I only had to buy the diamond; the gold and his services were free). A lifelong friend of her parents was the wedding coordinator. We had a friend do pictures; he agreed to buy the film and we paid for that and his time, and we did the processing ourselves (long, long before digital). The reception was a potluck. I don't remember how much it cost us, but it was affordable to us, thanks to generous friends and family.
  • brodouevencode 12 days ago
    The number in the wedding party blows my mind. We had four total and that was two too many.
  • rsynnott 12 days ago
    > Maid of honor speeches, which cost $375 if they’re written by Glantz or $35 if she gets her AI assistant to help.

    In which LLMs continue to ruin everything.

    • ibejoeb 12 days ago
      How much worse is it than having an actual stranger write a puff piece on you?
      • rsynnott 12 days ago
        I mean, neither is great, but the one written by a human will generally be less irritating.
    • filoleg 12 days ago
      Given the average quality of quite many maid of honor speeches, they were imo ruined the second markov chains came into the existence
      • rsynnott 12 days ago
        I mean, the average wedding speech of any type is of course _quite bad_ (most people not being accomplished public speakers), but they're at least generally bad in a fairly varied, human way. The mind-numbing same-y badness of all ChatGPT prose would not be an improvement.
        • bombcar 12 days ago
          The whole point of the best man/maid of honor speech is to tell some moderately embarrassing story from ages past.

          Without that, who would even bother?

          • filoleg 12 days ago
            Exactly. It isn’t a store opening speech or some other super formal part of the wedding. Best man/maid of honor speeches are usually supposed to be more of a storytelling piece (of variable funniness) that ends on some heartwarming and/or cute conclusion.

            I wouldn’t blame people for using chatGPT to generate more formal/canned sorts of speeches, but the man/maid of honor speech is imo a terrible application for that.

    • shermantanktop 12 days ago
      The LLM won't reveal what happened during that weekend in Ibiza and drunkenly recount it to the extended family.

      Not unless you add that context to the prompt, anyway.

  • Giorgi 12 days ago
    I got that on email newsletter too and visiting her website, it looks like she is one of those "marketeer/influencer" type, most likely it is a marketing gimmick too.
  • slipshady 12 days ago
    That website is awful on iOS/Safari. Constantly scrolls me back to the top.
  • alexwhb 12 days ago
    Really interesting read. Thanks for posting. Pretty sad how many people seem to not have enough close friends, but it is understandable the more self isolated and individualistic our culture gets.
  • mepiethree 11 days ago
    Looking at her website, it really seems like she doesn’t personally do the hired bridesmaid thing anymore and is mostly trying to promote her story for a movie, sell AI tools, phone consultations, and more “standard” wedding planning. Makes sense. This is a job that you’d probably have to retire from young just because brides at big weddings skew younger.

  • jojobas 12 days ago
    1) The costs of holding what essentially is just a party, even if it's the main party of your life, are ridiculous. Expecting guests to dish out thousands of dollars for an outfit is even more ridiculous. The brainwashers on behalf of the wedding industry are worth their weight in gold.

    2) The picture seems to suggest that professional bridesmaid's job is to be uglier than the bride's, go figure.

  • DrNosferatu 12 days ago
    She's a farmer of Bridezillas - clever girl! (maybe hunter-gatherer)

    ...or an engineer that builds the bridge between reality and the image people want to project about themselves. Amazing food for thought.

    • sdwr 12 days ago
      She's writing people's papers for them at the last minute.

      "Everyone knows" that your wedding is the place to show off your strong social ties. What do you do when the deadline is approaching, and your stomach starts sinking in dread and shame as the people in your Rolodex aren't as numerous or committed as they should be?

      • DrNosferatu 12 days ago
        What's the point of living in a - painful and expensive - lie?

        (besides Glantz's income, obviously)

        • gardenmud 12 days ago
          Based on the article, she provides the services of a sort of on-call talk therapist/emotional support that overlaps with services typically provided by a personal assistant or maid of honor, like keeping the bridesmaids organized and on track. Honestly, I get it. If you don't have a willing volunteer, there's no shame in hiring a personal assistant for the job. Where she really excels is selling it as something fun and chic, not desperate; 'extra bridesmaid to fill out the group' is a lot more palatable than 'hired help'.
          • araes 12 days ago
            There's also a certain caste of society, where spending $5000 to not have any stress about an event, is really not that big a deal. Plus, then you're not dropping it on your "best friend" to handle the whole thing, which ends up being a weird inverse form of punishment for being friends so long.
            • Sebb767 12 days ago
              It's not really a punishment, but more of a reciprocal deal of helping each other have an awesome wedding when the time comes.
        • sdwr 12 days ago
          Well, the truth is painful, the lie is expensive - while she's pretending to be your friend, everything is ok. And if you actually had a friend who was that beautiful and graceful and dedicated to you, everything would be ok!

          Whether the service is pathetic or not depends on how it's used.

  • FrustratedMonky 12 days ago
    Probably a big market beyond bridesmaid.

    Uber for Friends.

    There was netflix show with it as a subplot.

    There was a phone app, and you could just hire a friend for an afternoon to hang out.

    • OJFord 12 days ago
      I don't think it was, but could imagine that as a Black Mirror episode. A bit similar to the social rating one.
    • jojobas 12 days ago
      Escorts have been there forever.
    • syndicatedjelly 12 days ago
      Could be a Nathan for You episode
  • tsss 12 days ago
    People like that have the easiest life ever and then act like they're fighting in the Vietnamese jungle.
  • anonu 12 days ago
    There's a market for everything...
  • ecmascript 12 days ago
    Honestly this article is just really depressing. Just goes to show how modern technology has ruined peoples lives in ways that we could not anticipate. I always thought internet and social media would bring you more friends but it appears like people are way more lonely today and I identify as one of them.

    Honestly, finding new friends as a grown up, especially as a man, is very hard. But I rather have my wedding alone with just my family than with some random people I pay. I'd rather not have any party before the wedding than with people who are not my real friends. Maybe that's just me but I find this "trend", if you can call it that, a dystopia.

    We don't need more fake friends, we need less.

    • COM2323 12 days ago
      Maybe it just depends where you live or how you use internet/social media? For me it's actually much easier. As an introvert I don't really like approaching random people "on the street". So whenever I start a new hobby or interest I usually just find some local community via their website/forum/Facebook, participate online and then join them in person. This has worked amazingly for me over the last 25+ years.
    • mixmastamyk 12 days ago
      I first encountered the phrase, "keeping up with the Jones" some time in late 70s.
  • midasuni 12 days ago
    1 bed apartment for a couple with a baby and dog?

    I’m guessing the 100k/yr is revenue not profit.

    • rsynnott 12 days ago
      Note: "Manhattan".

      (Also of course if it's a new baby they may just not have gotten around to moving yet. But 100k doesn't exactly make you fabulously well-off in Manhattan.)

      • obloid 12 days ago
        The article says Williamsburg, which is in Brooklyn, but still NYC so that 100k is not going to get you much.
        • alexwhb 12 days ago
          I can attest to this. 100k in Brooklyn… especially the nicer areas is barely enough honestly. Especially now in 2024.
        • rsynnott 12 days ago
          Oh, oops, you're right. She started the business in a Manhattan apartment, but Williamsburg now, yeah.
    • shermantanktop 12 days ago
      They're living well in NYC: no roommates.
  • Tolexx 11 days ago
    This is an interesting article. It will make for an interesting movie too.
  • kunle 12 days ago
    I don't think AI is going to replace this job anytime soon.
    • tsss 12 days ago
      It did replace her last job very successfully.
  • totorovirus 12 days ago
    There are professional wedding guests in Korea
  • tivert 12 days ago
    > It also tells her something else: that people don’t have the support networks they need, not just on their wedding day but in everyday life. “Making friends, maintaining friends is really hard,” she says. “I think people are lonelier than ever.”

    Don't you love capitalism? It wrecks your support networks, then provides a substitute solution for a fee.