WWYWPD? – What would your wedding planner do?
A good amount of my clients say to me, “I have a friend that does flowers and she is going to take care of that.” Or, “My aunt makes awesome cakes.”
I have reservations about this for many reasons, but I am going to put the reservations about the actual work aside in this post and talk about contracts with your friends and family. I recommend, to the point of insisting, that you have a contract – a concrete set of parameters – with all of your wedding vendors, family, friend or professional. I don’t care whether it is the professional photographer friend that is gifting you their services or the cousin that makes bouquets. You must have a contract.
It may seem rigid or unfriendly. And to a certain degree it is. But here’s the deal. Every service provided to you on your wedding day is technically a business arrangement. You have very certain expectations of what you want. This is important, after all it is your wedding day. You must have a clear understanding of what any given vendor is going to provide.
Often, there is a level of discomfort in asking what a friend is truly going to provide. And because people are uncomfortable asking about the details, preventable mixups happen. Examples of things I have heard or seen:
1) Your friend the florist – Yes, she will make the arrangements but did not plan to bring them to the venue. Ummm, so who is bringing the flowers to the venue?
2) Your friend the DJ – Offered his services for the evening. No contract. In his mind he was going to play a bangin’ set for the dance hour. Has never spoken on a mic to Emcee. So, who is going to Emcee? Who is introducing you as “For the first time, please welcome ….”?
3) Your 1st cousin the Planner – You know this one strikes close to my heart. The “super organized” cousin that loves to be in charge, but starts drinking and is nowhere to be found as the evening progresses.
A contract protects both you and them. For you, a contract will spell out what services that your vendor will provide, when and how. Your contract can have a $0.00 value but it holds your provider to a professional standard. You have an actual agreement and must be treated as such.
For the vendor, a contract allows to clearly mark the boundaries of their service. Perhaps your friend will be happy to give you about six hours of photography for free. Maybe in your head, you understand that “happy to shoot your wedding” means 8am to 2am the following day. That needs to be clear, on paper with signatures.
Why is this post a WWYWPD? Well, I am getting married. And I have the wonderful benefit that most of my close friends are actually in the wedding business. All of my vendors will be people that I am actually inviting to the wedding. I am very much in the demographic that we are discussing. And guess what? I have signed contracts with each of my vendors, friend or not.
Why? Because as I said above, this is still a business transaction. I may trust them implicitly but money is money, expectations are expectations. And guess what happens when I don’t have a contract and I don’t make sure to fully understand the parameters of the service they are providing me? I am going to upset with my vendors, my friends. And it may ruin that relationship and cost a friendship. Do you want to be angry at your Aunt Mary because she promised a beautiful three tier cake and she showed up with a sheet cake? Do you want to excommunicate your fiance’s buddy because there was no contract and he showed up two hours late with a “better late than never” attitude?
It may be your wedding day, but you must treat each interaction as a business transaction. Hopefully a great, happy business transaction.