The Friendor Dilemma

A friend whose skills are employed as a vendor at an event or a wedding. Results may vary, as some friendors are highly skilled (as a DJ, photographer, baker, etc), while others are not. Urban dictionary
Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to know someone really useful. A graphic designer, a florist, a dj…or maybe just a friend with some serious talents.  Or even just someone who’s ready to help and good at following instructions. There are lots of options–helping with a project, providing a service or a day-of role. And friendors can range from your closest friends to acquaintances.
Crafty and me –she published a book on beaded jewelry | Photo by BM Mathlete
I have a close friend who is a wedding planner and another is a designer. I have acquaintances who are wedding photographers & hairstylists. And my friend Crafty can be considered a pro in terms of making jewelry–with plenty of amateur talents too. But help from friendors can be tricky–I don’t want to take advantage of anyone but I also  love the idea of more personal touches on our wedding day.
First, we have the different TYPES of friendor:
The Pro: This person gets paid real money by people they do not know to help them out. (think: the friend who owns a wedding planning business)
The Semi-Pro: It may not be their full time job, but they have official technical skills in the area you need. (think: the friend who majored in graphic design in college)
The Enthusiast: It’s a hobby, but they love it, and they have the right tools for the job (think: the friend who has all the right sound equipment to dj for you)
The Amateur: They’re just happy to help. With anything. (think: anyone you can sucker into making invitations/centerpieces/placecards/etc…oh hi Mom!)
And then the different ways  to handle COMPENSATION:
“Friends & Family” Rate: Full service, lower price. Make sure you sign a contract for what you’ll get–you don’t want to get less quality in return for a lower price.
Gifts In Kind/The Barter System: Maybe you can trade a skill or will give a very nice gift–or just babysitting. Trading is always a great option.
Business ain’t personal: Full price. But at least you know the person, and you’re getting the same service as any other paying client.
Free: For really good friends or total amateurs, people just want to help. Let them!
And of course there are different TIMES you may need or want some help:
Before the Day: Help with preparation, design, DIY projects or overall planning–these friends can still be full guests at the wedding
Day of: You may want help with set up, coordination or a day-of service. Think hard about these friends’ role both in your life and your wedding. If a friend is working your wedding, they may not be able to enjoy it as a guest–if its an acquaintance, that’s no big deal but it might be an issue for a close friend or a family member.
Afterwards: Maybe you could use help designing an album or selling extras.
There are good (and bad) things about each–hey, one’s free–but its important to think through your needs before you ask.
I have a good friend who has been a wedding planner for years (and launched her own business the day after we got engaged!) but I didn’t think I needed a wedding planner. For awhile I felt like I shouldn’t talk to her about the wedding at all since I wasn’t going to hire her (my church has a coordinator with multiple assistants and so does the venue–I think it would be overkill). This was silly–I just need to not take advantage. She sent me a couple of recommendations for the great photographer search, told us which bridesmaid lines to check out and definitely doesn’t mind taking questions. Asking her to be my DOC for free or handle my venue search would have been out of line, and I’m glad I waited for her to make the first move, but don’t forget your friends love you–they really do want to help make your day special.
Here’s the distinction–I’m grateful for Emilee’s help, but I didn’t need it. I appreciated the recommendations, but nothing was going to fall apart without them. Had I asked her to actually find me a photographer (which I would have paid her for), we would have needed to work some things out.
And along those lines–friendors can really help you save some money, which can be a lifesaver to have the wedding you want. We wanted a pretty traditional wedding and made some decisions (like a fancy church and a full dinner) that are pricy–but we can also afford the wedding that we want, and so it isn’t worth it to me to make my friends or family help out on the day of (the key reason I hired a florist even though Mama Clover really wanted to do the flowers herself). If we were in different financial circumstances though, I would definitely see what my friends could do to help with setup, especially when it could be done without missing anything (like setting up for the reception in the gap after the ceremony).
Mixing money and friendship makes people squirmy, but make sure both you & your friendors are clear on your expectations AND your timeline. Wondering how I know? Yeah…but at least I have some tips for you next!
Did you use any friendors for your wedding? Good experience or bad?

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