Planning a wedding can be a full-time job. It’s always an exciting but exhausting time. You’re a bride! You want to invite everyone you love! You want everyone to cry and then dance til they drop! It takes months especially if you live around these parts! You live and breathe lists. You make budgets. You pray that you pick the right people for such a big day. You hope the reviews you read were true. You post things on Facebook asking friends for suggestions. AND then you get the friend-ly vendors……
Being a multi-“vendor” myself makes me a little bit qualified to write this blog. I officiate weddings. I can marry people like for realsies and it’s awesome. It’s one of the most joyous days of your life and I love to be a part of these amazing days especially when I know and love the person. I also sing at weddings. I can sing pop, church, spiritual, musical theatre, or any kind of music you choose (except rap. Cari don’t sing no rap. Word.). I have also been known to be able to get a pianist (shout-out to all my piano friends!) on short notice. I have chosen music programs or been assigned what to sing. On both fronts I am very versatile, a steal if you will. 🙂
But these are jobs, jobs that I hope will become even more plentiful as I get older. I wanna work! For the closest of loved ones, I am cheap AKA FREE. This is something I am happy to give; it is a gift but since I’m sappy, I always give a physical gift as well. We’re talking for the besties. But mama’s gotta earn a living! I wouldn’t ask someone to sell my house for free, do my taxes for free, book my vacation for free, clean my house for free, teach my kids for free, etc etc. See where I’m going with this? Vendors are your friends but when it comes to booking, be honest with your budget and we’ll help if we can. (Hang on, I come back to this.) But if you are a vendor, think of your most stressed out moment. Do you want to have to lay down the law with them? Are you a guest or a vendor? Do you want to know how your friends are as clients? Do you really want to talk budget with your friends/acquaintances? Do you want to risk losing this friendship should something, god forbid, go wrong?
Now the bride/groom side. The friendly vendors offer their services. Are they the best? How do you say the price is way out of budget? What if the friendly vendor doesn’t provide? Do you leave a bad review? Do you discourage others from booking with your friendly vendor? How do you break it to them, gently, that you are going with someone else? I remember a friend of mine posted that she was planning her wedding and was looking at vendors for photographers. An acquaintance of both of ours volunteered her services as well as another woman pushing her brother’s building photography business. Eek you asked for it, you got it says Toyota but I always say if you are going to volunteer your services, do it privately or give lots of other people AND you. Imagine your worst Bridezilla moment that you know will come. Do you really want people to see you that way? (Your groom will but hell, better let him see it now! Haha!) Oh the drama!
OK so we have both sides covered so now what? Best case scenario? Both couple and vendor have a brilliant relationship, are both thrilled by the outcome of the day, feel everything mushy gushy for each other, and leave great reviews on both ends. I’m not saying this will not be a successful merger but more something to mull over carefully. The best thing about this situation is giving business to someone you care about and giving something special to someone’s wedding day!
Before you take the plunge of hiring a friendly vendor or working as a friendly vendor, take these things into account and work together in harmony.
1. Make the distinction between vendor and a guest. If this vendor is a friend, invite them to the wedding too. If they are just an acquaintance, a vendor will not feel bad about not being “invited.” (More than likely a close friend is going to want to enjoy your wedding as just a guest!)
2. Make the price and/or budget clear on both ends. Is this a freebie? Is this discounted or not? Be clear. Vendors are doing their job so be respectful of that. Vendors, let your couple know that you are helping them out if you can.
3. Keep it professional and try to give everything you can, again on both ends. This is so important. Remember that a service is being provided and distinguish between business and personal conversations.
4. Don’t assume that your friend is the best vendor for the job. Just like any other client would, it is best to shop around. Check the reviews!
5. Use a contract. I know it sounds silly with someone you trust but from the bride’s point of view, it protects you and lies out EVERYTHING you want and need from the vendor on the big day. The vendor, in turn, should provide this to avoid any surprises and to protect themselves as well. Don’t think that this friendly situation can’t go bad!
In every case, honesty is the best policy. Be honest as a friendly vendor or as a friend. Hire your friends or have them dance the night away with you as a guest. Your wedding is an amazing day. Your job as a vendor is an amazing life. Keep them amazing and if necessary, separate.