The most honest, genuine response to a proposal announcement I’ve ever heard came earlier this year, from a single bridesmaid to her now-engaged best friend: “I’m so happy for you,” she said, “but so sad for me.”
Womp. Womp. Sure, that’s admittedly deflating for a bride-to-be to hear at the outset of what’s supposed to be one of the most exciting times in her life. Although I can’t help but also feel for her bestie. It’s an unfortunate truth for the romantically unattached friends and family in a bride’s life: A wedding and its lead-up mean celebrating the love you have while concurrently grieving the love they’re without—especially for those in your bridal party. Put yourself in their shoes—even if they’re super cute ones you picked out for them—and realize that constant exposure to you and Benjamin’s happiness and impending “happily-ever-after,” may only affirm their feelings that they have an indelible AlwaysABridesmaidNeverABride hashtag branded into their foreheads. Is that your fault? Of course not, and singletons don’t want your pity. So, what can you do beyond your monthly ritual of bottomless mimosas, hair patting, and quiet coos of “there, there—your day will come“?
Download the Wingman app, and as their website puts it, “play cupid for your single friend.”
Wingman’s founder is Tina Wilson, a ballsy and brilliant Brit who, with the introduction of a match-making app as opposed to yet another dating app, has opened up the thrill of the swipe to literally everyone—single, married, and everything in between.
“My married friends have all said that there comes a point for brides where everything is just envelopes and stationery and maybe some cake tasting,” says Wilson. “They want the fun distraction of helping their single friends with their dating lives. And imagine now they can actually say, ‘This is going to be you next year, because we’re totally finding your husband on this thing.’ It’s a story that keeps going.”
What an ambassador of romance you’d be as the one responsible for finding your maid of honor’s future husband (or maybe just preventing your brother from showing up with a date whose shirt disguised as a dress gives your Aunt Myrtle heart palpitations). There would 100 percent be Lifetime movies made in your honor!
Below, Wilson walks us through exactly how this thing works, and Wingman’s very specific appeal to brides and married folk—many of whom missed out on the the wows and woes of Tinder. Plus, she offers sage advice on what to put in your friend’s profile to guarantee more making of matches. Prepare for some fun, and possibly the only time someone says to you as a bride, “It’s not about you.”
Brides: The concept of a wingman is nothing new, but how did you reimagine it for the age of online dating? Where did this app come from?
Wilson: The idea came from my own experience of never wanting to date online and always picking terrible matches in real life. My girl squad in England, most of whom were in relationships, were the ones who encouraged me to finally get online. They helped me write a profile since I was uncomfortable writing my own, and kinda coached me throughout the whole process. Then years on, I moved to New York alone and I remember thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if a site existed that could somehow mimic that experience of having all your friends around you—even though it’s so unusual for people to always be together—and they could help you in the dating world.”
In the Wingman app, that “helping” means a bride creates a profile for her single friend (or imprudent sibling) and then swipes for matches that she deems suitable for said friend. Why is this matchmaking approach better than the direct approach of more traditional dating apps?
It doesn’t feel like a solo journey anymore. It feels more like a night out. Plus, the people who know you best can best describe you and more objectively pick out what’s good for you. And a friend can say something about you that you couldn’t say yourself. With a traditional dating site, from my experience, people are very afraid of being too outspoken or coming across as negative or boring or whatever it is. People will say they love black tie and camping, but rarely they really like both. You like VIP but also being in the mosh pit? Hmm. But if your friends say something about you… [Ed. Note: Don’t worry, fiancés. A bride can’t create her own profile, swipe for her own connections, or chat with anyone in the app. It’s seriously all about the other person.]
What are people saying about their friends?
People are being quite blunt, and we love the honesty, but maybe don’t be too honest. Like, one wingman said about his friend, “You know, he’s never really been faithful to anyone. I’m hoping there’s a girl out there who can tame him.” C’mon. This guy is 24. It’s not like he’s a sorry, old playboy. He’s just young. He still wants to meet someone who he connects with. Even though you want to be truthful, you don’t want to sabotage your friend—who still has to approve the profile, by the way. The most successful profiles are real, fun, humorous accounts of the person’s personality. So for example, “She is absolutely fierce. She doesn’t take crap. She’s super OCD and she’s a real nitpicker. If you’re untidy, she would never date you. You better smell clean.” or “He is like an M&M. He seems all hard and mean on the outside, but he’s actually soft and creamy.”
Beyond keeping their tone that of bar banter, what other advice do you have for brides filling out profiles for their friends?
As a friend, you shouldn’t be afraid to say what you think would be good for them. Some of these single profiles have multiple testimonials. You’ll have the mother who is like, “I just want her to have a nice Jewish boy who went to Yale.” Then, you’ll have a girlfriend saying, “She just needs to go out and let rip with a dancing buddy.” Someone can get a real overall picture, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be spot on. It’s just what your opinion is. And even the interaction of the chat that says, “Oh, wow. Your friend really threw you under the bus” or “Your friend sounds crazy” or “Your friend mentioned something you did in college. What didn’t she want me to know?” becomes a conversation starter—as opposed to the traditional “Hey” plus maybe one emoji of other dating apps and sites.
With Wingman, it sounds like brides can even support their bridesmaids or whomever from afar.
Right! One user told us she’d lived in a sorority house and when she left campus for her first job, her sorority sisters who’d ended up in different areas became her wingmen. She said it was almost like they were still with her going out, even though they weren’t in the same city. My friends have said that even when they’re married, they still want to know about the crazy singles who are going out and what they’re getting into. The ones who are pregnant, and out of the drinking scene, still want to be connected in some way. What you see in testimonials is wingmen saying, “I have two babies, and I want my friend to have the same because I’m bored going to social outings without her.” It’s one more way of keeping brides and their friends in touch, as opposed to them being millions of miles away and only connecting once every month about the bridesmaid dress or other details that are really only about the bride.
And why do brides in particular make such awesome wingmen? Is it because they’re on the most intense love highs right now, and they want those feelings for their closest friends?
I’d say for brides that whatever’s happened, they’ve gotten through the [hard] part of dating, right? They’ve gotten to the point of now getting married. And, it’s not saying that they were particularly clever to start—they’ve probably been through ups and downs—but they can be a little wiser now in helping their friends avoid mistakes or giving guidance on something that they wish someone had touched on with them. I always look to my friends who are more experienced than me for advice, and I think for a bride, that’s going back and saying to her girlfriends, “Look, I got here. I’m going to help you get here.”
I mean, brides are going to literally have a license in marriage. That hopefully counts for something.
Wingman is also an opportunity for brides to still feel somewhat involved in the fun of single life. When my friends were helping me online date before, they’d come around on a Sunday morning with bagels and coffee to drift through matches with me. It became a collaborative weekly meet-up that was as much about our friendship as it was about me being on a dating site. And so that bonding time was something that I took from it—really being appreciative of my squad.
I know you’re still in the early stages, but I’m so optimistic.
Because there are so many dating apps out there, there’s a natural hesitation for people. They don’t want to be on “just a hook up” app, or they want to make sure whatever app they’re using is “safe and legit.” It’s funny when people get annoyed about verifying their phone number with us and it’s like, “Listen, dude. This is a serious thing. It’s actually for the greater good.” It sounds cheesy, but I think fundamentally Wingman is about helping someone by being being kind and supporting connections—those between you and your friends, and then those between your friends and someone new who is perfect for them, and who they never would’ve given a chance without your help.