OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
While Robbie and Emily get ready for our final round, it's time for us to play a game. This is Mystery Guest. A stranger is about to come on stage. Jonathan, I have no idea what this person does, what makes them special or who they are. But our puzzle guru Art Chung does.
ART CHUNG: That's right. Ophira, you and Jonathan will work together as a team to figure out our mystery guest's secret by asking yes-or-no questions. Mystery guest, please introduce yourself.
JEN GLANTZ: My name is Jen Glantz. And I own a very unusual business.
EISENBERG: An unusual business. OK.
JONATHAN COULTON: An unusual business. Does your business involve either food or drink of any kind?
EISENBERG: Does it involve humans?
GLANTZ: Yes, lots of humans.
EISENBERG: Lots of humans.
COULTON: Is your business related to the arts in some way?
EISENBERG: Is your business linked to special events or holidays?
EISENBERG: Oh, look at that.
COULTON: Special events or holidays.
EISENBERG: Little door into something. Would I go to you if I were planning a birthday party?
EISENBERG: What kind of weird, special events are we talking?
COULTON: Are you in some way providing the people?
GLANTZ: Yes. Yeah.
COULTON: You rent people.
EISENBERG: Do you rent friends?
EISENBERG: You rent friends?
GLANTZ: Sometimes, yes.
EISENBERG: OK. So like a flashmob? Like that kind of thing?
EISENBERG: OK. So right. You just need people. You need friends.
COULTON: Do you sell followers on Instagram?
GLANTZ: (Laughter) No. But I've bought them before.
COULTON: Oh, yeah?
EISENBERG: Is it at all about creating romance or relationships?
EISENBERG: It is.
CHUNG: Here's - I think focus on what type of event, maybe.
CHUNG: Is it a party? Is it a celebration of some kind?
EISENBERG: OK. Is it something that people in a couple would celebrate?
EISENBERG: OK. Is it an anniversary?
COULTON: A wedding?
EISENBERG: Oh, OK. So if you're getting married...
EISENBERG: Is it, like, you're getting married, and you have no friends, and you can get a bunch there?
GLANTZ: Sort of.
CHUNG: Sort of. But specifically what?
CHUNG: What do people...
COULTON: Bridesmaids and groomsmen?
COULTON: You provide bridesmaids and groomsmen.
CHUNG: Jen is a bridesmaid for hire. She started almost three years ago with a Craigslist ad offering her services as a professional bridesmaid. This year, she'll be a bridesmaid at eight weddings and wedding coaches at seven more. And she recently wrote a book about it titled "Always A Bridesmaid (For Hire)."
EISENBERG: So why should people have bridesmaids at a wedding? What if they're just, like, I don't have any bridesmaids, and that's the way it is.
GLANTZ: Some people are cool with that. But others want to have a support system not their wedding. So they need someone to step in and say, I'm a professional. Let me help you out and be there for you because weddings are dramatic. They are not a celebration. They are a drama fest. My job is really to go in there and calm things down and make sure the bride doesn't cry because there's always tears.
EISENBERG: OK. So you're like a PR agent for the bride during the wedding.
GLANTZ: I like to say on-call therapist because...
GLANTZ: ...They need a lot of that.
EISENBERG: You're a wedding doula.
GLANTZ: That is the perfect way of describing this job in a sentence. Yes.
EISENBERG: OK. When someone goes, well, what are professional services? What do you offer? And you break it down. What are, like - you know, give me the three punch points.
GLANTZ: I've had to be a bodyguard for a bride who fired her maid of honor and was scared she was going to crash the wedding. And a mother of the bride forgot her bra, and I had to take mine off and give it to her.
GLANTZ: I say I'm the on-call therapist, the personal assistant, the social director and the peacekeeper because I've never been to a wedding when there wasn't some type of major, dramatic situation.
EISENBERG: OK. So when the bride's like, I'm not going out, what do you do?
GLANTZ: I say, let's go get an Uber. We don't have to get married. I had a bride five minutes before she was supposed to get married look at me and say, I hate the groom. I don't want to do this. And I was the person she went to. So I had to really make sure that she was doing the right thing as her stranger in the room, her hired bridesmaid.
COULTON: Did she leave the wedding?
EISENBERG: Very long story short - they agreed to go through with it. But they both had the conversation saying this wasn't real. It was just going to be - because they had 300 guests waiting for them. So she did walk down that aisle. But I think she just kept walking right after the wedding ended.
EISENBERG: Wow. So this is a fun job.
CHUNG: And how do you explain who you are to the other bridesmaids or family members?
GLANTZ: That's a good question. Oftentimes, the bride and I have a fake backstory of how we know each other.
GLANTZ: So I'm not Jen Glantz. I'm Jen Smith. I'm Jen whatever from art school, drama class, yoga, whatever.
EISENBERG: And how has this affected your view of marriage? Would you get married and have a wedding?
GLANTZ: I will never have a wedding like the ones you see after going to them. I think they're a little bit of a waste of money. I think people do traditions that - they have no idea what they're doing. I love marriage. I love love. I want to have a simple party with pizza and cheap alcohol and a great band. And that's it.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) That's amazing.
EISENBERG: I would have you at my wedding. So there you go. Give it up for our mystery guest, Jen Glantz.
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