I have been working in the wedding industry for over 15 years, and in that time, I have seen some shit. I have stories about petulant brides, naked grooms, crazy in-laws, cakes falling apart and needing to be MacGuyvered together with a wire hanger (yes, MacGuyver is a verb in the event world)… all of which I’ll share in my tell-all book, coming out just as soon as I retire to a private island.
I have troubleshooted hundreds of scenarios, and I want to give you the benefit of my experience. I’m going to tell you one, maybe uncomfortable, truth about your wedding suppliers:
Unless you are willing to pay full price, never hire your friends as your wedding suppliers.
That’s it. That’s the advice. Seems simple, but when your friend insists that their service is their wedding gift to you, or offers you an incredible deal… it can get super dicey. I know it can feel great to have your friends involved in wedding planning, but if they don’t regularly work in the wedding industry, do you really want one of the most important days of your life to be part of someone’s learning curve? Here’s an example:
Instead of hiring a professional bar service, you choose to hire your friend who owns a bar. Because they have never done a wedding before, they forget to account for: staff to clean up the glassware throughout the night and time to clean up after themselves at the end of the night.
That would suck.
That would mean added pressure on the catering staff, who would not be stoked about now feeling understaffed. It would mean that the venue wasn’t adequately cleaned before being released, which would almost certainly mean added fees. It would mean your other suppliers are unhappy.
You can take this totally made up scenario (am I winking at you or did I get grapefruit juice in my eye?) and sub in any other supplier; the cake delivery didn’t coordinate with the rental company, the buddy who said he would bring his speakers arrived after the majority of your guests (and I got a new grey hair that day), the florist had to rush home to get dressed, so they rushed the sweetheart table setup. Everything becomes a hassle when people who are not industry pros, or even people who are, get unwittingly roped into doing a favour.
If you run your own business, you already know that business owners don’t pull pricing out of thin air. It is not based on a feeling, but on the time, energy, materials, and value you give to your clients. (Shout out to my former boss who told me he priced menus based on his feelings. SMH.)
Finally – and this should be the most obvious reason not to hire your friends – your guests are meant to enjoy the wedding day right along with you, making memories, not worrying about droopy hydrangeas or scarfing down their meal between dance sets.
Here’s me dancing with my then-boss on my wedding day. Had I hired his catering company, he wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the party, and we wouldn’t have this kick-ass photo or memory together.
There are some exceptions and workarounds to this rule, so don’t storm off in a huff just yet!
Officiants: This is a beautiful way for someone important to you to be involved in your wedding, and as long as they remember to pass you the mic when it’s time to read your vows, any little fumbles will just make your ceremony more charming.
Service staff: If these not-super-close friends can work the early part of the wedding, and join the party after food service is done, go for it. Just make sure you have some non-friends on staff who can work until the very end of the night, and take care of the clean up.
You’re besties with an industry pro: I’m a wedding planner, and I have a lot of friends in the industry, so it would be weird and paradoxical for me to hire a florist I don’t have a relationship with for any event. I do hire my friends, all the time. It’s really simple: I pay them. I don’t ask for a discount, ever. If they want to throw in something special for me, and they often do, I thank them profusely and often bring them a little gift to show my appreciation.
And look, not to get all hippie-dippy on you, but when you operate from a mindset of abundance as opposed to scarcity, you find that when money goes out, it inevitably flows right back in. That good will comes right back to you.
Hiring your friends as suppliers at your wedding is tricky, and though I’ve seen it managed really well, it’s a gamble. Finding vetted suppliers in your budget, cultivating a relationship with them, and being willing to pay them for their expertise is the best route. It will mean a stress-free journey to the aisle and the knowledge that things are being handled by pros on your wedding day. Besides, do you really want your friend to be at work on your wedding day?
For more of the scoop, check this article I wrote for a wedding blog last year. And for supplier recommendations, and an expert eye on your event plan, drop your name and number in the contact form! My 30-minute discovery calls are always free.