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I've Got a Friend of a Friend...

Weddings are expensive. Every wedding planner and article tells you to establish a budget and stick to it. Nevertheless, no matter how careful, once the budget is set, just about every bride almost immediately starts to look for ways to save and conserve money. There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to save money, however one of the most common traps a bride falls into is by using friends or family members to provide services for their wedding instead of using trained wedding professionals. Now this might seem like a great idea: Family and friends can help with the wedding, and they won't cost as much! However, even if your Great Aunt Suzy makes amazing hors d'ouevres, or your Uncle Bob takes pretty cool pictures, it doesn't necessarily mean they are the best choice to handle your catering or your photography. Weddings are a lot more work behind the scenes than you may realize, and those behind-the-scene details can make or break your whole wedding. Before asking family or friends to help with major parts of your wedding, consider some of these details:

Image courtesy of :40 worst wedding photos on

1. Time/crowd management So Aunt Suzy makes the best hors d'oevres for every party. Has she ever made hors d'oevres for 100+ people plus a meal and have the know-how to keep everything hot until the last course is served? And then clean up? Uncle Bob's Instagram page is filled with amazing pictures, but saying your vows happens really fast - does he know how to frame and light the shot, compensating for phone flashes so he doesn't miss or mess up that important moment? Professionals know how to do what they do and when to do it. They understand how the timeline and tempo of a wedding works and how to work with other pros and around large numbers of people so everything flows with no delays. 2. Reliability I have heard from both couples and Pros this same line: "It's a week before this wedding and {the bride} was supposed to have a friend of her friend as the ______ but they got called in to work and now can't be there - do you know anyone who is available?" Wedding Professionals do weddings. If they are contracted to do a wedding, it is very unlikely that another obligation will come up to prevent them from making it to your wedding. People who are doing it as a hobby, for a discount, or "a friend" may not necessarily have your wedding as a top priority, so if something else or better comes up, it is not a big deal to them. Pros have contracts that make sure that if they don't make you a priority, they suffer.

3. License and Liability Many reception venues require that anyone who works at a wedding have liability insurance for what they do. This is to protect you, the venue, and the guests in case something goes horribly wrong. For example - if, God forbid, one of your guests has a little too much to drink and has an accident leaving your wedding. If the guests were serving themselves and nobody was monitoring how much alcohol each guest was consuming, you as the host of the event could be liable for the accident. Now if you have a bartender who is licensed and insured, they are required, as part of their licensing, to prevent and recognize if a guest has had too much and how to handle it, preventing disaster. A DJ's lights could catch fire, a photographer could hit someone in the head with a camera - wedding professionals have insurance in case something happens. If you bring in someone who causes an accident, and they are uninsured - you might have to cover the expenses of their mistake.

4. Work vs. Enjoyment Even if your family or friend really enjoys doing their service, working at a wedding is very time consuming, so you can hope that Aunt Suzy doesn't mind missing the ceremony, toast and introductions because she is trying to put sauce on 100 plates of chicken. Or Uncle Bob won't get any pictures of the anniversary dance because he himself is dancing. Your wedding is a celebration, and you should want your family and friends to celebrate with you and enjoy themselves - not be slaving away in a kitchen. The only thing worse than forcing your family or friends to miss parts of your wedding due to working the wedding is having your new spouse working. I once heard a newlywed lamenting that her new husband had decided to MC their wedding, but that meant that during the introduction of the bridal party, she was left standing alone in the middle of the dance floor, and he had to leave her whenever an announcement needed to be made. In that case, neither the bride nor the groom got to enjoy their own wedding.

Even though hiring a wedding professional is the most secure way to make sure that your wedding happens successfully and you get the best results, family and friends still can be valuable. If your cousin is a professional wedding photographer and is willing to work instead of dancing, that is something you would have to discuss with him, and he may be willing to cut his price for you. If your sister's best friend is opening a restaurant, then your wedding may be a great way for her to drum up business. But in either of thsese cases, the person providing the service is still a professional, even though they are an acquaintance that could give you a break on the price. Consider also what may happen if your aunt makes the cake, and something doesn't look or taste right - how will family dynamics overall be affected after that? If you need to save money on your budget, there are ways to make it work, just be careful that you don't cut out something that you will regret not working right in the end. Still looking for that perfect Wedding Professional? Check out our Directory to find the caterer, photographer or whatever else that will help make your wedding happen without any problems!

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