As more and more couples are paying for their own weddings, it is becoming increasingly common to see couples hiring Friend Vendors. Friend Vendors can be a great way to save a few bucks on your wedding day, but beware! It may seem like a flawless idea at the time, but there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you end up getting what you want out of your Friend Vendors.
- Get it in writing. You sign a contract with any other wedding vendor, why wouldn’t you with your Friend Vendors? I know it seems weird and informal to ask a friend to sign a contract, but remind them that this is a very important, once-in-a-lifetime event and you need confirmation that the agreed upon terms are gonna happen. Otherwise your buddy could up and bail on you if a better opportunity comes along. (This almost happened to us when our very own Friend Vendor got offered a gig that paid $20,000 for one day of work – the day of our wedding. But luckily for us the gig was postponed at the last minute.)
- Communicate your expectations. Again, just like with any other vendor, don’t be shy to stand up for yourself and ensure you are getting what you want. Just because you two are close, don’t expect your friend to be a mind reader. Print out pictures, draw diagrams, make lists, etc. Make sure your friend who is a DJ knows she is supposed to play music YOU like, not music SHE likes (unless you both like the same music, then you’re good).
- Keep an open mind and maintain a happy attitude. Even if you discuss all your expectations, some things might still get mucked up, especially if your friend has never worked a wedding before. For example, we had a friend video record our wedding for us, and even though he is an experienced director and filmmaker, he had never done a wedding and didn’t know where to stand during our first look. So he is in the background of all our first look pictures! I was extremely disappointed at first (some tears may have been shed, yes!) but I had to remind myself that we wouldn’t have had any professional video of our wedding if it were not for our generous friend. (And it helps to have other friends who are handy with Photoshop!) Even if you think you have thought out EVERYTHING, plan for the unexpected and keep an open mind.
- If something is very, very, very, very important to you, go with a pro. Things like photography, catering, and music are generally very important aspects of the wedding celebration. If something is super important to you and you think you might cry for decades if it gets screwed up, then hire a professional. Hiring your Uncle Tony who is an amateur photographer may seem like a good idea now, but ending up with poor quality wedding photos will make family gatherings super awkward for the rest of your lives. Unless you are very familiar with your friend’s work and know he or she is a total professional, then it’s best to cough up the dough and hire an experienced vendor.
- At the event, treat your Friend Vendors with respect. This goes for ALL vendors, hired using cash monies or buddy points. But don’t forget that your friend is doing you a HUGE favor. Make sure he or she gets proper breaks, a proper meal, and a proper tip.