Wedding Planning Tips

Asking a Friend to Work Your Wedding

A few months ago I ran into a friend that had just attended a wedding.  I was dying to hear about it; in case you have missed it, I *love* weddings.  She’d been telling me about this wedding for months.  I knew how much she was looking forward to it.  She bought an amazing dress.  She shopped for the perfect gift. She got a babysitter for her kids.  She traveled.  She was so excited to see her friend get married, and to have a little fun.  I expected to hear all about the fun.  Instead, she shared:

“It was pretty, but I didn’t really get to enjoy it.”

See, when she got to the wedding, they asked if she wouldn’t mind taking care of the photobooth at the reception.  It should be super easy, just take a quick pic with the instant camera, make sure everyone signed the guest book, no problems. She felt like she couldn’t say no.  After all, this was someone she cared about.  Who wouldn’t want to help make the wedding great? She did ask if maybe they could set a time aside for this, during cocktail hour, or maybe just an hour of the reception….but the couple really wanted people to come and go at their leisure.

So she spent the entire reception, out in the hallway, manning the photobooth/guest book. She missed the introductions, all the first dances.  She missed the dinner.  She missed seeing the cake being cut (but did manage to grab a piece of that to eat at the end of the evening). She didn’t even fully enjoy the ceremony because she was so worried that she would somehow mess up the guest book.

It made me so sad.  Because I *love* weddings.  I love working weddings.  I don’t get to eat at convenient times, my feet and my back are usually throbbing by the end of the day; but I love it.  I’m also paid to be there.

It’s that statement that I hate to hear when talking about someone’s wedding:

“I’m just going to have a friend do it.”

Just.  Any task worth paying someone for (and most wedding associated tasks are worth paying someone for, it’s why there is an industry surrounding it) doesn’t belong in the same sentence as the word “just”.  The just makes me think that maybe one doesn’t realize exactly how consuming the task is, what a generous gift the friend is giving by providing it, and that they may not value that gift in the end.

However, I totally understand the need to work within a budget, and how friends can be a valuable (and valued part) of a wedding day.  Just like your wedding should never be more important than the relationship you’re there to celebrate (yay, marriage!) it also shouldn’t put your friendships in jeopardy either. Asking a friend for more than they can give, or accepting the ‘gift’ of a wedding task from someone who isn’t a wedding professional can put a strain on the friendship that just isn’t worth it.

  1.  Can your friend provide the service you need?

    Don’t ask a friend to do a thing they can’t do just because you have no one else to do it.  You will end up unhappy, and your friend will feel horrible.  Are you sure they can do it?  Is it a thing you have actually seen them do, or something that you think is so easy that ANYONE can do it?

    I’m going to burst your bubble on this one….most things in life are not so easy that anyone can do them.  Almost everything takes a certain amount of skill.  Be honest: how many times have you seen a simple project and thought, “Man. I can do that.” 12 hours later….you begin to realize that it’s definitely not as easy as it looks.  Almost everything in the world is like this.

    It looks easy until you start doing it.

    Maybe you have a friend who does happen to be super talented at something that you need for your wedding.  Your friend is an amazing photographer, wedding planner, dj, etc.  Before you give them a call and ask them for that favor, look up the price of their services.  If that friend were getting married, would you give them a gift equivalent to that amount?  No?  Then don’t ask them to do the same. Hire them for your wedding. Now, should your super talented friend offer to gift their services to you, absolutely accept.  Graciously.  Tip them the biggest amount you can afford, knowing that (unless your parents are paying for your wedding) it’s the biggest gift you’ll probably get.

    What if it’s not something that you were planning on having at your wedding, but someone offers to do it for you?  In that case, is it a thing you’re okay with having?  Not everything really wants all the things at their wedding, and that’s okay.  If it’s not a thing you want, if it’s a thing that you think will potentially take away from the day, it’s okay to politely decline.  This is also the category where it’s okay to take a chance on a friend who is trying a new thing: provided that if the thing doesn’t work out, it won’t affect your wedding day.  If it goes wrong, but it’s a thing that doesn’t matter or isn’t required for the day…well, nothing gambled, nothing lost.  I probably wouldn’t take a chance on something like a DJ, etc.  It is not rude to say “We just want you to come and enjoy the day” or (if it’s not someone you were planning on inviting) “We decided not to have that for our wedding.”

    The first wedding we ever filmed was a gift.  The couple had no assurances that we would create them an amazing video.  They also weren’t planning on having a wedding video.  Aside from having a few extra cameras around for the day, they wouldn’t have been out anything.  They knew us well enough to know that we wouldn’t do anything the day of the wedding to ruin their day, so it was a safe bet.  (Confession – that video is still one of my favorites!)

  2. How close are you to this friend?

    If this is someone that you probably were not going to invite to your wedding, don’t invite them with the hopes of getting free work out of them.  Conversely, if this person is close enough that you want them in your wedding party, do you want to saddle them with tasks that will keep them working the entire day?  One of the things about being in a wedding party is that you are signing up to help with certain tasks.  Be open with people when you ask them to be in your wedding party about how much you are asking of them.  Are you looking for bridesmaids to plan your bridal shower and give opinions while you dress shop, or do they need to be prepared to get into the trenches with you wielding a hot glue gun and a paintbrush?

    Both are fine, as long as you’re honest about them upfront.  Don’t ask a friend to be your bridesmaid then toss some wood and calligraphy supplies at her the week before your wedding as you walk away expecting some gorgeous handpainted signs.  You’ll probably get your signs.  You friend will likely not sleep the entire week and end up with a palm full of splinters to create them for you, but your friendship will never be the same.  However, the whole group of you spending a wine-soaked weekend laughing and creating some wedding favors a few months before the big day might be a thing you all enjoy and talk about forever.

If you do decide to go the friend route, be sure that expectations are clearly defined.  Be clear about payment (if there is any) and what you expect to receive.  Don’t ask a friend to be your day of coordinator, but not fill her in on any of the details she will need.  It never hurts to have a contract, even something basic, even if no money is exchanged.  Just to be sure everyone is on the same page.

In the end, that’s all that matters.  If you have to make a decision and you’re just not sure which way to go, choose friends over favors, people over possessions.  Every time.

Here at MotionWorks, we specialize in creating beautiful films to tell the story of your wedding day.  We’d love to talk to you about how we can create a film for your wedding, including all the fun your friends and family are having just enjoying the day.  Click the “Book Your Film” button or contact us to start the conversation!

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  • Very well said! This is an important topic and one that I don’t often see written about, especially this thoroughly! Love that last line–reminds me of Suze Orman! 😉

  • As a day-of coordinator, I couldn’t agree more with all of this!! So important! Especially when it comes to if you’re getting free services from a friend that exceeds a typical wedding gift cost, tip, tip, tip! At the very least!

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