Let’s face it, weddings are expensive. This is no secret, and if you are not in the planning process yet, you will find out quickly how easily it can all add up. So when it comes down to booking your vendors, it may look really tempting to ask that friend who just bought that nice camera to take your pictures or your Aunt Jill to caterer it because she has never made a bad meal that you can remember. You will get the friends and family discount and what could go wrong right?
There are a lot of working parts to a wedding and the people who are there to make it happen pretty much stay on their feet with little downtime. When I ask my clients what is one of the most important things about their wedding, most of them tell me that they just want everyone to have a good time! If that is your responsibility to ask yourself if having a friend or family member, that you probably would have invited as a guest, is really what you want. This person will not be able to truly enjoy your wedding as they will be more concerned with not capturing the perfect picture or if the bread baskets need to be refilled. You should want all of the people you invite to your wedding to enjoy every second, just as you should be, so do yourself and them a favor and give them the task of attending as a guest.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some pros of hiring a friend or family member. As a planner myself, if a friend or family comes to me with their wedding or event, of course, I want to help!! A big pro to hiring someone you know is you already feel comfortable with them and “clicking” with the people you hire for your wedding is a biggie in my book! That is one reason I like to do in-person consultations. I want you to meet me in person and for us to have a chance to chat.
Speaking of “clicking” with your vendors. You may have a friend or family member willing to do your wedding for a huge discount or even free, but that doesn’t mean they are a good fit for you and your wedding. Does your friend with a camera know how to use it? And if they are a photographer, what kind of photographer are they? If they have never done a wedding before it may be something you want to take a step back and think on. Do they know the time constraints there are for pictures after a ceremony? Do they have the right eye for wedding photos? Can they take pictures all while keeping up with which ones they did capture and not miss the one with Grandma in it? Of course, having a wedding planner by your photographer’s side can help them manage their time and check off the list of must-have pictures as they happen (wink wink).
Another reason I would highly suggest against hiring friends or family is there is nothing truly holding them to their “responsibilities”. A professional is committed to YOU and YOUR WEDDING! There will be no last-minute bailing (which happened at a wedding I did in September where the photographer just didn’t show up and wouldn’t answer the phone), and in the rare event that an emergency comes up they already have someone lined up to show up and do the job!! What happens if your cousin who was going to DJ your wedding for free gets a paying gig the same day as your wedding and backs out 2 weeks before the “I do”?
A professional has experience. They have done many weddings and events and know how things should be run. You will get the results you were looking for, so in short, you get what you pay for. You also won’t need to worry about straining any relationships. I have noticed that when a bride has a friend or family member helping them with their wedding they are more reluctant to step up for what they want. I have been told that they didn’t want to have to say anything because they felt like they were asking too much of something that was already so generous of that person to do.
A professional is HIRED and contractually bound to you and your event. Yes, we are there to help, but we also know this is your wedding and we want to do everything we can to make YOUR dream come true, not anyone else’s. Sadly, I have had to be the bad guy between the bride and a family member who was helping with the wedding, and it left tensions for the rest of the wedding. I can imagine that is not the way either one of them imagined it to be when they were beaming with excitement over the wedding.
I am not saying you should never have someone who is a friend or family member be one of your wedding vendors. Have I helped friends plan a wedding? Absolutely! In fact, it is how I got my start, but that is a blog for another day. Will I help plan a friend or family member’s wedding again? Absolutely! However, I abide by the same rules I would for anyone else and they get the same contract as everyone else as well. My goal is to make their wedding everything they dreamed of and more, no exceptions, no slacking off. My reputation is very important to me so why would I change the way I do things for a friend or family member? So, if you have someone close to you that you want to help with your wedding, regardless of your reasoning behind it, I would suggest that you treat them just as you would any other vendor you hire. Ask for a contract. They are there to protect both parties! Make sure it is someone with experience and knows how a wedding is run. And if you have people close to you that aren’t professionals, but you want them to be a part of your big day, how about just asking them to be at your wedding or for help planning one of the parties surrounding a wedding, like a bridal shower or rehearsal dinner? After all, if it was as easy as people say it is, would there really be as many professionals as there currently are in the wedding business?