Wedding Vendors | Hiring friends vs. professionals

Weddings are expensive and when you start adding up all the costs: venue, food, photography, dresses, music, gifts, etc your head can start spinning. In an effort to save money, you may consider enlisting the help of a friend or family member to provide a wedding service for a discount or free of charge. 

It’s tempting, we get it. It seems like a win-win, your BFF is in the wedding industry, they offer their services for free or deeply discounted and by accepting their offer, they are guaranteed to be a part of your day AND you have cash. 

But there is a reason the saying “too good to be true” exists. We believe there is more value to hiring a pro than to saving the money but if you insist on using friends or family, here are tips to avoid ending the relationship forever. 

 Hiring a professional hair & makeup artist will make you happy when you feel beautiful & you see your final pictures. pc: L+A Photography

Hiring a professional hair & makeup artist will make you happy when you feel beautiful & you see your final pictures. pc: L+A Photography

It’s a natural tendency for wedding professionals to offer our services when a friend or relative gets engaged. 

We sort of do it without thinking! Weddings are our wheel-house and we figure if we are there, we might as well help. After all, we know weddings like the back of our hands and they are a complicated affair. Add to that, it’s in our nature to help, we exist in a service-based industry. 

On the flip-side, when you are the engaged one and you have friend who’s in the industry, you trust their expertise, it will save you tons of time research a potential vendor and very likely it will save you money. What could be better, right? 

 We highly recommend hiring a professional florist. Florist: Flowers by Cindy, pc: Brooke Miller Photography.

We highly recommend hiring a professional florist. Florist: Flowers by Cindy, pc: Brooke Miller Photography.

Hiring a friend to be a vendor is NOT a guarantee for problems. 

But, if you ask a friend work at your wedding, problems are more likely than when you hire an outside vendor, one you are not personally connected to. Some problems we’ve witnessed: 

They leave early or arrive late.

They don’t have the proper equipment, supplies, training, programs. Sometimes the service they offer is more of a hobby than profession.

They don’t know how to handle unruly family members or do not want to get in the middle of family drama.

They don’t work well with the other vendors you hired. When they are connected personally, conversations or perceptions are a bit more personal so sometimes friends ask or expect too much from another vendor and more confrontations occur between the friend and hired vendor. It can create some tense or awkward moments. 

They are not familiar with the venue or other vendors, so there tends to be a gray area as to who handles what detail and in the end it often creates stress or delay within your wedding day.

They don’t attend all the necessary meetings (again, not getting paid for their time) so details are lost or not communicated. 

 Hiring a professional wedding photographer is a must. Pictures are the one thing from your wedding you’ll have forever pc: Savannah Eve Photography

Hiring a professional wedding photographer is a must. Pictures are the one thing from your wedding you’ll have forever pc: Savannah Eve Photography

Here’s why we think it’s unfair to ask your friend/family member to work your wedding. 

You are asking them to work for free or at a discounted rate for your wedding. Weddings are HARD work and their time and experience should be compensated. 

If they don’t feel their services are valued or compensated, they may be tempted cut corners or procrastinate doing the pre-work, leaving you stressed and anxious. 

They have to miss out on the fun, social, memorable parts of your day because they are working. They often can feel left out or less valued as a guest.

They want to give you the world or they have a hard time setting boundaries, so they often work 12-15 hours days and by the end they are exhausted and sometimes can’t finish the work. 

It’s hard to drink a glass of wine and take pictures! Or if they really want to be part-time guest, they have to bring in extra help (think second-shooter) and guess what, that person has to be paid too!

They have to work to do AFTER your wedding! Many jobs like photographers & videographers have work to do when they get home, editing, ordering and creating your final images. It all takes time and money.

Considering asking a friend or family member to officiate your wedding? We have an entire blog post dedicated to that idea! Click here to read all about it!

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Our #1 tip, SIGN A CONTRACT

Signing a contract protect you and them. It clearly outlines what services they will provide, what times they will work, parameters for meetings and their turnaround time for products delivered if they are providing services like pictures, invitations, signage or baked goods. 

It might feel awkward to suggest but trust us, it will help you avoid a lot of misunderstandings. 

Even if no money is exchanged, It puts your agreement in writing. A lot of decisions are made in your engagement year, a great deal is discussed but it’s impossible to remember it all. Having your agreement in writing protects you both and keeps expectations clear. Friendships and relationships can be strained during the process of planning a wedding. When you have a person close to you also working for you, tensions can rise quickly. It’s one of the many reasons we think it’s best to keep personal and professional separate and hire outside wedding vendors for your big day. 

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Here are some final thoughts to consider to finding the ideal balance of working with friends and relatives and having the perfect wedding day. 

Instead of asking them to work your wedding, ask them for advice in hiring a professional. You can ask them for referrals to friends in the industry that they know/trust/like. 

Let them be a guest, the memories you make together will be much more valuable then the money you saved by having them work your event. 

You are guaranteed to preserve that friendship/relationship for years to come if you opt for them to be guests. Feelings so often get hurt with one’s services and skills are not valued and fairly compensated for. 

Likewise, if they don’t live up to your expectations, you may feel slighted or hold a grudge. What happens if you don’t like the finish product, are you willing to end a relationship over it? 

Often when people are giving you their services/products at a discounted rate, quality suffers. 

It’s the biggest party you’ll ever throw in your life, it may seem like a lot of money in the midst of planning but trust us, it will all be worth it in the end. Let your friends and family enjoy the day with you, be a part of the memories and pictures and give them a day off (it’s nice to have a weekend off!). Trust us, you will all look back on your wedding day with fond memories if you let your friends and family be guests and leave the hard work up to the paid professional, non-related wedding vendors. 

Bonus tip: Ask your venue if they offer discounts for working with their preferred vendors! When we get to work with our favorite vendors, it’s a true win-win. We all have a great time working as a team and you save money because at Pepper Sprout Barn, we have many vendors that offer our couples discounts when they book both of us. In the end, your budget stays intact and your wedding day has no bumps! 

Tell us your thoughts! Are you team hire a friend or team hire a pro?