If the December holidays are engagement season, then January is the start of wedding planning season. One piece of advice that always seems to pop up is thinking about people you know with special skills that could help you out. Danger! Danger! Be careful with this advice. There are things you should seriously consider before approaching anyone you know for help. Remember that you'd like these people to continue to be your friends long after the wedding!
Won't people want to help out at our wedding?
Weddings in my family have always been an all hands on deck sort of event. Some siblings are uncharge of picking up ice and running last minute errands, others are tasked with set up and decorating, and everyone helps with cleanup. We're all on board to help (and assume that we will need to) but we all still appreciate being asked to do so and then being genuinely thanked for our help.
The same thing goes for members of the wedding party in my experience. So often bridesmaids are brought in to help with a lot of tasks. Many times they are happy to help! A genuine please and thank you still goes a long way.
All of that probably makes sense to you. Its common sense and the polite thing to do after all! Things get a little more complicated when dealing with a friend who is also a wedding vendor.
If you have a friend who has a wedding business (or side gig) you might be thinking, perfect! I'd caution you to consider 2 things though: your relationship and the money.
Consider your friendship
A friend serving as your wedding vendor may not get to experience your wedding in the way that either of you hope for. If they are baking your cake or designing your invitations or doing something else that largely happens before the wedding, this may be less of a concern. But having a friend be your photographer, DJ, or anything else that happens on the big day will change things. Suddenly, instead offing a guest focused on enjoying your day, they are working. They might enjoy working it more than another wedding because they know you so well, but they won't enjoy the wedding in the same way they would if they were just a guest. With this in mind, it is worth asking your friend if they'd be open to providing the service or if they'd rather attend as a guest. And being fine with either answer.
The other friendship consideration is how you'll handle it if your friend isn't doing the work to your standards. Or if your friend gets upset with how you are treating them. Even if no money changes hands, you're taking a friendship and turning it into a business relationship. Understand that it changes things and be really sure that you want to take that step and are ready to deal with what that means.
About the money...
Does your friend normally get paid for what you're asking them for? If yes, go into your request expecting to pay them their normal fee. A lot of the advice out there says that getting friends to help is a great way to save money. But what saves you money will literally be costing your friend money through their time, materials, and the opportunity costs that come from providing the product or service for you instead of to a paying customer. Yes, it is possible that they'll give you a discount or do it for free. But don't start with that assumption. Assume you'll pay full price unless they insist otherwise. Don't try to hire them because it will save you money. Do it because you love their work!
A friend of mine has a side business as a wedding photographer and she suggests getting a contract with your vendors, especially if they are a friend. The contract will clearly lay out all expectations so you are all on the same page. Plus, it protects you both if something unfortunately goes wrong.
The only way to totally avoid changing your friendship is to invite your friends to your wedding as guests. If you absolutely love their work and want it as part of your wedding, proceed carefully. Make it clear that they can say no, get all expectations out in the open (in a contract), and pay and treat them well so you'll continue being friends for a long, long time.