by Janie B. Cheaney
Posted on Monday, February 2, 2015, at 12:06 pm
The Wedding Ringer, a new entry in the growing field of gross-out comedy flicks, tells the story of Doug Harris, a “loveable but socially awkward groom-to-be” who has no close friend willing to stand up with him at his wedding. Fortunately, there’s no problem too knotty for the genius of free enterprise: enter Jimmy Callahan, owner and CEO of Best Man Inc. For a monster fee, Jimmy can supply all the attendants Doug needs.
This is not a promo for the movie, which has an R-rating plastered all over it. But even the most far-out premise can echo real life. Only last year, Jen Glantz of Murray Hill, N.Y., turned her “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” experience into a business called Bridesmaid for Hire. After serving as a wedding attendant four times in the space of a year, she was inspired to place an ad on Craigslist offering her unique skills, such as bouquet-catching and 16-layers-of-tulle dress management. In other words, she’s setting up shop as a professional bridesmaid. The job is not just decoration: “Wedding planners focus on the ‘things’—executing the look and feel of your wedding day,” but Glantz offers to be “a personal assistant, on-call therapist, and social director for the bride and her entire wedding party.” She can step in as the perfect, can-do buddy to a woman who has few friends, or too many friends all competing for prime spots in the lineup.
The Craigslist ad appeared early last summer, leading to media interviews, more than 500 queries, and, as of this date, 25 confirmed brides. Her “Bridesmaid Inc.” may be an idea whose time has come, especially since the wedding business (two words that feel like an oxymoron) is byzantine enough that most brides could use an “on-call therapist.” Planners and consultants, specialty photographers, cake designers and DJs have become must-haves. The trend in “destination weddings” continues, with tropical islands and resort towns like Cancún advertising dream settings for the big event. Cohabitating couples, even some who already tied the knot in quiet civil ceremonies, still want to splurge for a memorable weekend once they’re a few thousand dollars ahead (even though they may end up several thousand more in the hole).
It’s encouraging, in a way, that couples want their big day to be special. No event in their lives should be more special, but even committed Christians can get caught up in the quest for a memorable wedding. What often happens is that they leave for their honeymoon exhausted, with the day’s events a big blur to be recalled in the $5,000 keepsake album. “Big day” thinking can be a trap: a black hole for unrealistic short-term expectations—leaching, perhaps, into long-term expectations. At its worst, the Big Day distracts from the Enormous Moment, when a man and woman stand before God and make crazy promises to love, serve, and put up with each other for as long as they both shall live. If big weddings are your thing (and won’t sink you too deeply in debt), go ahead and have one. But don’t confuse the icing for the cake.