I get it, truly I do. Getting married can be expensive. You will probably experience sticker shock at least once during the planning process. And it may be tempting, especially if you have any well meaning family members or friends that “do (insert product/service you are looking for)” as a hobby or maybe even “professionally”, to save a few dollars and either ask for or take them up on an offer for a hugely discounted or free product/service.
9 times out of 10 THIS WILL BE A MISTAKE. Why? I’m so glad you asked!
You’re Not A Client
I’ll say it again for those in the back. You are not a real client with a contract to protect you and the person providing the service. A contract can be the single most important thing you will receive from your vendor team. It will detail out what they will provide, what you need to provide, when it will be provided and it provides you with protection in case they don’t show up or perform according to the terms of the contract.
You’re Not A Client (Again)
We have a tendency to not have as high of expectations from family and friends as we do a complete stranger. We also tend to not want to be as aggressive and self-serving when it comes time to ask for the things we truly want. And family and friends tend to think that because you are family or friends that it’s okay to not be as on, as complete, as on time, as professional, as honest as they would be with a stranger. After all you still have to sit across the table from each other at Thanksgiving or see each other at work or spend time socially together after the wedding.
Your Venue May Not Allow Non-Professional Vendors
This is a big one, especially anything to do with food, music and flowers. A professional vendor is typically defined as someone with a business license and more importantly general liability insurance with a minimum of $1,000,000.00 in coverage. Most hobbyists don’t carry insurance and aren’t operating a true “business” (reporting income, paying taxes, registering with the proper agencies, etc.).
They Have No Backup
Have you ever asked someone to house sit and the day before have them say something came up and they can’t help you out? Have you ever asked Cousin Sue to make cookies for a party and have to throw them in the trash because they look (and taste) terrible? Have you every asked someone to help set up tables and chairs at Thanksgiving and have them get there late (with no warning)? No big deal in these situations, but on your wedding day, it could be a disaster. Running late, not showing up, bringing inedible food are all things that (typically) don’t happen with a professional unless it is life or death. And even then, a professional will have a network of other professionals to take care of you.
That picture at the beginning of this article really happened at a wedding I coordinated. I didn’t know until the day before that the client was self-tenting their reception space. I was assured that it would be okay, that additional sandbags would be used to anchor the tent. And I was counting on the weather to be typical Arizona weather and be gorgeous. Between a freak wind storm and a non-professionally staked tent, the picture above was the situation we had on our hands about 2 hours into the reception. The professionals that were on hand helped handle it and we took the entire structure down to ensure that we didn’t have any injuries due to flying tent pieces. But could this whole thing have been avoided by hiring a team to install the tent - you bet!