Ask yourself these questions before you decide one way or the other.
catherine john micro wedding table perry vaile
Credit: Perry Vaile

As you start planning your wedding, you may have family members and friends who offer to work on your big day, but is it a good idea to hire a loved one as a vendor? What if they're just starting out in the field and don't have a lot of experience? There's no one-size-fits-all answer to these difficult questions, which is why we're sharing some questions to ask yourself before booking a pal as a pro. Plus, we share a little bit about what it's like hiring a friend as a vendor.

Are they a professional or just starting out in the field?

If you're considering hiring a friend who's new to the wedding industry, take a look at your priorities before you make your decision. If photography is the most important thing to you, hiring a professional photographer with more experience under their belt is probably going to make you more comfortable in the long run. If your friend is hoping to build their portfolio by capturing your wedding, you might invite them along to shoot the rehearsal dinner, take a few photos while you're getting ready, and capture the day-after brunch for a small fee. In the event that your friend has plenty of experience in the wedding industry and is available to help with your wedding, working together can be really fun. Just make sure you have a solid contract that protects you both should anything go awry.

Should we expect a discounted "friends and family" rate?

This is a slippery slope. If your friend is a professional and they're willing to offer you a discounted rate, it's important to confirm that they're giving you the same services and same quality of service regardless of the price tag. In essence, the discounted price is simply a courtesy. When you get into larger discounts or pared down services (i.e. a graphic designer who won't allow time for a second draft), the savings often aren't worth their weight. You want to work with a friend who's going to be as flexible and generous with their time as they'd be with any client, so it's important that they feel like they're being generously compensated.

What are some of the risks of hiring someone who just dabbles in the field?

The risks depend entirely on what you're hiring them for and how flexible you are with your expectations. For example, if your great aunt does calligraphy on the side and has offered to address your invitations, first consider the risk. Let's say she ends up smudging the envelopes because she hasn't stacked them correctly and you don't have time to get to a professional calligrapher to redo them. While there's a simple solution and you can have labels printed quickly, you need to consider whether this is a risk you're comfortable taking. If, on the other hand, you're hiring a friend who works in studio photography to capture your wedding, you may be taking a bigger risk, as they aren't used to shooting in a high-pressure, fast-moving setting with hundreds of people in the mix. They could be overwhelmed by the energy of the wedding and you might end up with photos that are rushed and of poor quality.


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