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Friends with Benefits

No, I am not talking about the 2am drunk dial kind, but more specifically the friends that offer services for your wedding. You know the: “as a gift, I will “DJ” for you” or your friend who has a fancy new camera.

I do not in any way want to down grade their talent, insult their generosity or tell you NOT to do this if you are comfortable with it, but please consider the following items first.

1. Your friendship – would your friendship be at risk if you used their services and for some reason they didn’t come thru, you were not happy, or it wasn’t up to your expectations?

If for any reason your answer is yes, respectfully decline their offer, yes it could save you a few bucks but nothing is worth a friendship.

2.Your Time and Money– Yes, it could help save your oodles but think of the expense incurred if they backed out last minute and you had to hire someone out of haste instead of really sourcing the vendor that is right for you and your budget.

3. The Service – if it is photography please make sure they capture the style you are looking for, don’t just look at a few photos look at a full collection, the good and bad photos to really get a good idea of their style. Photography is the main area I always tell a client NOT to skimp, hire someone who knows what moments to catch, you only need so many photos of your friends drinking, (leave that to the disposables) but that first look moment or shots with Great Grandma shouldn’t be missed. You also DO NOT want to worry about a friend accidently deleting or loosing the moments they captured. It is heart breaking; I speak from experience on this one.

To understand the expense of a professional photographer or DJ is to understand they have a massive about of expense behind their services. Both require computers with massive amounts of storage, expensive software, and we have not even touched the expense behind the education, cameras, lighting, flash, batteries, speakers, editing, insurance or maintenance. These items, their knowledge and experience are what you are paying for.

As I mentioned above, I speak from experience on this, we had a friend and co-worker that also had a video production company, he happily “gifted” us with his services and video taped (7 years ago!) our ceremony and reception. He even did the before interviews, photo montages, getting ready, etc. I couldn’t put into words just how excited I was to see the videos as so many moments get by you on your wedding day. The ceremony alone was an immediate blur the moments we were walking back down the isle.

The following week upon returning to work, I will never forget his words; “I have something to tell you” my heart sank, though hoping he was just kidding as he tended too. He then went on to tell me he accidently recorded over the entire ceremony, and thinking that was probably the most important part, but hell, I still would LOVE to see the rest! I told him no problem and thanks for doing it anyway and I couldn’t wait to see the remaining footage of the moments he had captured.

To this day, we still have not seen a minute of that tape, though it makes for fun taunting, but surely we never will. Did it end our friendship, no, but was and still is disappointing nonetheless.

My story is not the only, I have heard and seen horror stories like this happen to others:

  • Friends who like to bake offer to make a cake only to “freak out” under the pressure and not do it.

  • Friend of a friend offered to shoot a friends wedding for experience, that friend of a friend then got upset with the Bride and decided to change his arrangement for photos and would not give them to her without her paying him for each image.

  • Another Friend showed up to DJ a wedding with nothing more then a laptop and IPOD (ok for an intimate wedding of 25) but NOT so great for a wedding of 200. Sadly, he also forgot his charger and the battery died and so did the music.

I can also give you a vendor perspective, it s hard, really hard to balance the friend and service provider duties at a wedding or event. I will always give each client be it friend, family or stranger the best of my ability, but it is hard when you are a guest to an event and trying to work. When you are there with family and/or friends and constantly trying to fill your duties and enjoy the evening without feeling like you are letting someone down or that you are missing out on great dinner conversation or quality time on the dance floor is tough. After all, you don’t want to upset your friend by having fun and you don’t want to miss out on the fun either.

Not to say that all service gifts turn out horribly, some turn out perfectly! These issues just wouldn’t have happened with a contracted vendor, not without repercussions anyway. If you decide to use a friend for services, just ask for an agreement that you both sign as terms, so there are no surprises and back up plan in case of an emergency. It may not be a preferred thing to request, but this way you both are clear on what will be offered any fee associated and last minute cancellations.

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