I am planning my Friday the thirteenth wedding from 3,000 miles away. My fiancé and I are both from Southern California, but we're planning our wedding from our home in Philadelphia. My question is about something I'm calling "friendors", or friend vendors.
My family is the entertainment business, and so everybody knows someone, which is great, but it's also driving me insane, because I want to pay for my things so that I get good things, and not free things that are shit. My mother-in-law knows someone who does flowers, and suggested this person and thought they were so great, and they could do anything, and it took me weeks of following up with her, texting her to see pictures. Does she have an Instagram? Nothing. Then she was like, "Oh, yeah. She doesn't really have pictures of the weddings that she's done, but she can do anything, so it's great."
I was like, "No, that's not great. That's terrifying."
My mother-in-law is an excellent hair and makeup artist and has offered to do my hair and makeup on our wedding day. She's a professional, but if I don't like it, how am I supposed to tell her that I don't like it? It's all very complicated.
My step-mother is a former wedding planner and has a friend who is a photographer. She has offered to take care of the cost of the photographer if I pick this friend of hers.I was excited, it could save us so much money. I asked for examples of his work, and, again, silence, radio silence. Nobody can send me anything. Nobody even responds to my texts about it.
I finally do some snooping, and found his website, and his landscapes are gorgeous, but his photographs of people are terrible.
I was heartbroken. He photographed my step-brother's wedding a couple years ago, I tracked down some of those images and they are every bit as awful as I thought they would be. They just look like you gave your uncle an iPhone, and he just took over exposed pictures, without regard to focus, or angles, or shots, or anything. It's just so sad.
I'm deciding that I'm going to find a photographer myself, and just pay the two or three thousand dollars to get photos that I like, instead of free photos that are just utterly unusable.
I don't really know how to approach that with my parents. I don't want to hurt their feelings, but, fuck it, I'm not getting ugly photos.
- Bridechilla Brenna
Planning a wedding from across the country can be tough and it might be tempting to just go with the people your family and friends suggest, but I think you are right to be concerned.
In most cases I caution couples against hiring "Friendors." Sometimes it goes great, and other times it is an utter disaster. Miscommunications about what is expected or being paid for can ruin friendships and I have even seen it lead to threats of legal action (on two separate occasions!).
Even when these folks are legit wedding pros, the lines of professionalism are blurred when working for friends and family. Anyone who would otherwise be a guest at the wedding should not be hired to work on your wedding day.
Additionally, your vendors should work for YOU. Hiring your parent's friends can complicate who has the final say on the look and feel of the wedding, particularly if you are planning from out of town.
From the sound of it, these vendors are already falling short of your expectations and I would be wary of any vendor who cannot provide a portfolio. And if you dislike the work someone does, you absolutely should not hire them, even if the discount is great.
Explain to your family and friends that while you appreciate their input and suggestions, that you have a specific vision for your wedding day and that you would prefer to select vendors who fit that vision.
Now, I do just want to say that if you want to include your family and friends because their work fits your vision and are totally on board to help you create a more community focused event, GO FOR IT. Hire a friend because you trust in their work and know they are the best choice, not because you want to save a few bucks.
About the Author: Erica Greenwold Reisen is the lead planner and designer at Folie à Deux Events. She specializes in authentic, unique events for couples who like to challenge traditions and do their own thing. She is the founder and editor of Secularly Wed, a wedding blog dedicated to meaningful, non-religious wedding planning. You may have seen Erica around the Bridechilla community as she is also part of our team here at the show, managing marketing partnerships and blog submissions.