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Choosing Your Vendors: Pro vs. Pal

5.21.18

It can be tempting to ask friends or family members to provide services that are normally provided by a professional, but is it really a good idea? The answer is yes…or no. It all depends.

 

YES, if your friend is a also a pro

Even though your pal Sarah is super crafty and your brother-in-law Sam takes amazing Instagram pix, that doesn’t mean Sarah knows how to make centerpieces or that Sam has the slightest clue how to photograph a wedding…nor is he likely to have the right equipment. If your sorority sister from years ago makes a living as a wedding photographer and you love her work, by all means, book her for your wedding. But if your spouse-to-be’s college roommate is in a struggling garage band, opt for a professional deejay who can give you a custom play list that is exactly what you want in terms of music while also expertly keeping things on schedule with trained emcee skills.

 

NO, if you wouldn’t get over a mistake

We’re all human and nobody’s perfect. Everybody’s heard of collapsing wedding cakes  and disastrous bridesmaid dresses.If Uncle Terry videotapes your wedding and then accidentally erases it before the night is over, you’re still going to have to see him – and be polite- at family gatherings for the foreseeable future. At least if a pro makes a mistake, you can get a full or partial refund.

 

YES, if you are prepared to treat your friend like a pro

If your friend is a pro and you are confident in his or her ability, then you need to handle this as a professional relationship. Which means, be on time for consultation appointments, provide accurate and honest direction, and above all, don’t ask for a discount (though it’s okay to accept one if offered).

 

NO, if you are settling for something you don’t really want or going over budget.

You can appreciate cousin Megan’s  skills, but if her invitation designs are not to your taste, don’t feel obliged to hire her. And if your neighbor Antoine’s floristry is to die for but completely out of your budget, it’s best to look elsewhere.

 

How to ask a friend or family member to be one of your vendors:

Give plenty of notice. Assume that he/she has many clients and may be booked on your chosen day.

Be clear on what you are asking. “Would you be part of our wedding?” could mean many different things, while, “You know how much I love your work – I hope I can book you for our March 23rd wedding” is perfectly understandable.

Don’t ask for a discount or suggest that your friend work for free “as your wedding gift.” Wedding vendors make hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars per event, and your friendship probably would not survive your request for a $500, $900, $1500 – or more – wedding gift.

Be gracious if they decline. Even if you are prepared to handle the situation professionally, your friend may prefer not to for any number of reasons. Simply thank them anyway and ask if they can recommend an alternate.

 

How to decline a friend or family member who offers to be a vendor when you don’t want or need their services:

Thank them for their generosity and thoughtfulness.

If you’ve already chosen a vendor, say so – even if the contract is not signed yet.

Insist that you and your spouse to be want the person to be a guest, not a worker, at your wedding.

If the person won’t take no for an answer, find a safe alternative role. For example, if Grandma wants to make your wedding dress, it’s okay to say you’ve already put a down payment on one, but perhaps she would make the flower girl’s dress. Or, if your Aunt Bessie wants to bake your cake, let her know that you’ve already arranged for that, but if she would be able to help make favors, you’d be beyond grateful.

Whatever decision you make, ensure that your relationship will stay intact, no matter what happens. That way, everybody will be happy.

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