Letting Your Friends Be Your Vendors

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If you’re in full DIY mode and a friend approaches you about offering a service at your wedding, you may pounce on the idea.  Think of the money you’ll save!

However, many couples have been burned by letting friends take on photography or catering when it’s more than they can handle. Yes, we know you love your aunt, but has she catered for 200 people? Or is her experience more suited to extended family dinners at Christmas?  Here are our tips on how to let your friends (and family) be your vendors:

  1. Take a look what they’re offering and what they’ve done before.  If your friend is a photographer, check out their portfolio.  If they make cakes, have them do a dry run. Believe it when you see it. Anyone can buy a DSLR, but knowing how to use it like an extension of your hand is quite another thing.
  2. Be up front about your expectations. Give them pictures from Pinterest that you like.  Outline all of your expectations beforehand so you don’t set yourself up for disappointment.  You’re not going to offend anyone if you let them know what you want.  In a lot of cases, that kind of guidance is necessary.  Saying, “Oh, do what you think is best,” is probably the worst possible thing to say to any vendor, including your friends who have known you forever.
  3. Have them sign an agreement. This is the best course of action for any vendor, be they a friend or a stranger. A contract or agreement is the best way to keep people accountable.
  4. Expect the possibility of some awkward moments. Not everyone is prepared to shift into professional mode and it may cause a bit of strain along the way. Prepare for that. Most likely, you’re good enough friends that it won’t cause permanent damage or won’t even happen at all.  In the case that awkwardness or any disagreements spring up, remind your friend that you still think they are awesome, but that they offered a service to you.  This can get dicey, so be as diplomatic as possible and keep your emotions out of it.
  5. Let them have some fun, too. In some cases, your friends are going to want to completely draw the line and be all business.  While that is fantastic for whatever service they are providing, they are still your friend.  Let them eat cake! Give them time to rest or dance. Most every vendor has down time built in — only the photographer may have a hard time finding a break, since they’re going to have to be working for the whole ceremony.  No matter whether the photographer is a friend or not, make sure they eat when everyone else does.  This also cuts down on the amount of pictures of people chewing food.

Main takeaway: Boundaries are important. Having fun is important, too.  Toe the line between the two.  An even better idea?  Assign one of the bridesmaids to deal with all vendors.  That way, in case trouble arises, you can happily mediate.

Have you let your friends be your vendors?  How did it go?  Any advice? Let us know in the comments!

Happy planning!

– The Gala Pal Team
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