March 16, 2019
Ok, so this may be a little contentious! I run the risk of upsetting couples who have chosen to have friends or family fulfill a vendor role at their wedding.. hell, I run the risk of having my own friends and family be upset! And likewise, I know that some of what I have to say is going to have my Seattle wedding vendor friends (friendors?!) cursing me! But as a topic that comes up again and again, I feel like I need to address it!
Here’s the thing. Weddings are hella expensive! It is 100% natural to start your planning process thinking about how you can cut some of the costs. So that friend with pretty hand-writing, that Aunt who bakes your favorite cake, that green fingered mom who promises to grow all your wedding flowers, maybe even that cousin who is a successful wedding photographer.. all start to seem like really exciting options. And it’s not just about the cost saving, there is definitely something about a family fueled DIY wedding that makes it feel super personal and special.
As someone who definitely pursued this option and has witnessed both sides as a planner, I have some insight into the pros and cons that I want to share with you.
It’s not rocket science. This is a phrase I heard throughout my childhood and I’ll be honest, into today. Its my Dad’s favorite! He applies it to almost everything, from the supermarket checkout, to Kate Winslet winning an Oscar, after all, “it’s just dressing up and pretending to be someone else!” It’s easy to think that anyone can make flowers look pretty, organize your wedding and take pictures of it. And you know what, yeah, a lot of them probably can, but does that mean they should? Just as there is a difference between finding someone who is good with numbers to help you with your taxes, and hiring a professional accountant, the experience and the outcome are going to be considerably different! Sure, one might be cheaper, but that professional is not only going to make your life 10 times easier and deliver a higher quality product or service, but often they are actually going to save you money in the long run.
But what if they are a professional? Good question! More difficult answer! Say for example, your sister is a professional wedding photographer who charges her clients $4000… Are you expecting her to do it for free? And if you are, what message does that send to her about the value you place on her work? And if she has 20 weddings to edit for paying clients, and yours was a favor, where does that put you on her priority list? If you’re both comfortable with the answers to these questions then you’re fine, but discussing it upfront is really important. I’ve seen so many couples get upset because they expect a level of service, that ‘free’ rarely gets them, and relationships actually damaged because those close to you are hurt by the fact you expect them to work for free.
“Weddings are the only large scale events commonly organized by people with no experience!” Recently as a technician stuck a needle in my arm she attempted to distract me by recounting her days as a hotel event manager, and this line stuck out because it’s so true! How many events of 100 plus people would be run by someone with zero experience in the corporate or commercial worlds, but so many people have no problem thinking they can do it all themselves when it comes to a wedding! I mean after all, you’ve been dreaming of it for years and you know what you want, so how hard can it be?! The thing is, organizing a large scale event is so much more complex than picking out a color scheme and pinning inspiration pictures.. you need to manage a budget, source multiple vendors, create thoughtful timelines, communicate to multiple parties, turn those inspo pictures into practical specifics, and source the products and services to execute them within your budget and set up window, and let’s face it, that’s just skimming the surface… liability insurance, permits, travel logistics and so much more are going to come into play. And you need to do all this in your limited ‘free’ time!
The same is true of all the other elements. Just because your Aunt has a beautiful yard and is known for her gorgeous thanksgiving centerpieces doesn’t mean that she has experience in creating 100ft of greenery runners within a two hour set up window, or knows how many days before the wedding to buy different types of flowers so they reach peak beauty on the day itself. Professional florists also have discounts and buy in bulk from trusted suppliers. They can instantly tell you how many people they need to bring your vision to life based on the time they can start in the venue. And guaranteed they will do it. I have seen so many scenarios where family members are stressed out and falling apart on the day itself because they have not allotted enough time. Things are left unfinished, other vendors have to step in at the last minute to help, and probably worst of all, the couple are left stressed and sniping at the people they love, on a day when all they really want is to relax and enjoy their wedding, and have their family and friends do the same.
A word is a bond, but a contract is better! From the Bridesmaid who promised to do hair and make up but decided a month out that she’d rather not, to the mom who said she’d grow all your flowers but then forgot to plant them when life got busy, to the friend who was so honored and excited to DJ but decided 3 months out that as much as he’d like to, he’d rather just be a guest, your friends and family are not necessarily going to be the most reliable people, and not through ill will or lack of love for you, but just because this isn’t their job. I see time and time again, last minute stress due to drop outs and couples frantically trying to find vendors last minute and having to pay more than they would if they’d just booked professionals in the first place. A professional gives you a contract, you know they are going to be there, you know what it’s going to cost and you know what you’re going to get. The peace of mind this gives you is priceless.
So, no family and friends ever? Is that what you’re saying? No! I think finding ways to incorporate those you love, and their talents, into your wedding is wonderful and can help to make your wedding special and unique. But choose wisely and be realistic. Communicate your expectations clearly and take care not to under value the time, money and effort you’re asking people to contribute. As a general rule I steer my clients away from using unpaid and/or non professionals for anything that needs to be done on the day of the wedding. From florals, to hair and make up, to photography, you name it, you never get that day back and your day is 100% more enjoyable when you, and the people you love, can relax and enjoy the moment, secure in the knowledge that a crack team of professionals is bringing your wedding vision to life and capturing those memories for you. However, there are so many other ways you can incorporate your loved one’s talents into your wedding, from homemade favors, bespoke arbors and other decor items, to officiating your ceremony. In fact, while I absolutely prefer to work with a team of vendor professionals on the day, I always encourage my couples to incorporate these kinds of talents and personal touches into their wedding because truly, that’s when the magic happens. You can check out one of our favorite examples here on Green Wedding Shoes, Devin & Matt hired a team of professionals to bring their dream to life but still found numerous ways to incorporate DIY elements that gave this beautiful wedding a truly personal touch.
For more advice on how to execute your wedding flawlessly, and make it one of a kind get in touch today!