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"But we want you to be GUEST too!" Advice on working with Friends & Family as a Wedding Professional - wedologie.com

Wedologie_be_our_guest_too_advice_for_wedding_professionals{Feel free to share this article & graphic, just be sure to link back or credit to Wedologie.com – thank you!}

Being a wedding professional is tough enough; working weekends, dealing with demanding clients, and all the stress and pressure that goes with that.  Now your sister or your friend just got engaged, and the tricky tip-toeing conversations begin…

Often we are asked by family & friends if we can work with them, but also be a guest.  After years of experience with this, I can give you the definitive answer:

Just say NO.

Sure, you can make it work (I have done it successfully, and, uh, less so…), but there are lots of reasons why you probably shouldn’t:

1).  When are you on the clock and when are you off?
Before the big day, this might seem very cut & dry – “oh just help me up until the reception” or “I’ll only need you for a few hours!”  Well, we all know that everything at weddings ALWAYS happens on time & goes according to plan – right? Another important point – how do guests know when you are “off the clock?”  I did this hired/guest role only two times, and learned my lesson from this one.  I realized halfway through the reception (at that point I had switched fully to “guest” mode), what must the other guests think?  “This photographer puts down her camera & grabs a glass of wine?  Wait, now she is dancing?”  See how that could look a little odd?  Other guests are your referral base, and unless you have the DJ make an announcement that you are “off the clock” how would the majority of them know?  (Good lord, don’t have the DJ do that!)

2).  Would you give your friend a $500, $1000 or $5000 gift?
Typically the value of our services, whether you are a planner, invitation designer or photographer, goes into 3, 4 or 5 digits.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not typically giving people several thousand for a wedding present.

3).  You want to STAY friends, right?
It’s hard enough working for friends or family, but throw in the emotions of wedding and it could get even stickier.   If they are less than satisfied (for any reason, beyond your control or not), is it worth risking your relationship with them?  Everyone thinks it could never happen to them, but it can – and it does.

4).  Are you prepared to shell out for a backup plan?
The morning of the wedding, you get sick, break your leg, etc…  What do you do?  If you’ve made the commitment to provide a free service, you are still on the hook, what will you do?  Pay several thousand for someone else to do the job?  (See where point number 2 comes in again?)

Of course there are exceptions to every rule – one of my most favorite weddings was photographing our friends in a beautiful resort in Puerto Rico, and I thank my lucky stars it worked out.  It was small, intimate and I knew (or got to know) every single guest, so I was able to balance the line between hired/guest, but that was a very usual circumstance.

If your friends or family insist on hiring you – treat them as you would any other client – provide them with a contract and make sure they have very clear expectations of what you will and won’t do.  If you provide a discount or “extras” make sure this is outlined in the contract as well.  Make it very clear that if they hire you, you are in business because you have bills to pay, so you should be treated no different than any other wedding professionals they contract.

My opinion? When you get the opportunity to be a guest, take it.  Enjoy the wedding, a rare day off, and let the hired professionals do their jobs (and yes, you may silently judge them, knowing you could do it better – just stuff your face, drink & dance until it doesn’t bother you anymore).

– by Laura Eaton for Wedologie.com – Please feel free to pin, post and share, just please provide credit or a link back to Wedologie.com