A ‘friendor’ is when you replace a professional vendor with a friend to complete a task/provide a service on your wedding day. Sometimes you pay a discount rate, or cost of materials, but often the service is rendered as a gift or favour, with either little or no money changing hands. You may know people who have had great experiences, but for every glowing success story from happy lovebirds, there is at least one horror story to counter it. So the question is: is it worth the money saved? We tend to think no, and here’s why.
Friendors usually aren’t professionals, so there’s a high chance that they’ll make a least one mistake. It’s really just a question of how costly it will be. You won’t save much money if you have to re-do something, adding more stress to your load right before the wedding. An even worse scenario: your friend does a really average (or terrible) job on the day and it can’t be fixed (i.e. all your wedding photos get erased). On-the-day mistakes can range from your friendor caterer running out of food to everyone getting food poisoning because of meat being left out too long.
A good friend does not a good friendor make
Don’t expect professional service from someone who is not a professional (or who you are not paying). Managing expectations with a friendor is crucial because the lines of friendship and business can become very blurred (more on that in our next point). Does your designer friendor know you want her to create a whole wedding suite, or does she just think she’s agreed to wedding invitations? If your friendor is an acquaintance, are they automatically invited as a guest to the wedding?
Even if your friends have enjoyed great success at your cousin’s 18th or the neighbourhood block party, it doesn’t mean they know anything about managing the flow of a wedding. They might know a bit (or a lot) about their hobby, but they are by no means wedding experts. In some cases they are not even legally able to perform a certain role (i.e. officiate your wedding, serve alcohol at a reception). Your friends have other full time jobs so they can’t dedicate the same time that a professional would – the slack that creates will have to be picked up somewhere, and as the bride, it will most likely be with you.
The awkward convo: to have or ot to have?
We’ve all heard the saying since time immemorial that friends and money don’t mix, and this was never truer than on the biggest, most important day of your life. Tensions are high, the stakes are enormous and great relationships have the potential to go incredibly awry. In the end, no money saved is worth the loss of a good friend.
The main reason the two don’t mix is that with friends and family, the number one priority is being nice, so voicing your true opinion can get a little awkward. You can’t tell them if you don’t like their work or put in a complaint for any mistakes, rudeness, lateness or lack of professionalism – unless you want to risk the relationship. Most people will just zip their lips and suck it up (sometimes privately devastated).
Talking about money is also super awkward. The bad news is that if specific terms aren’t agreed on (in writing) there is too much potential for grey areas, hurt feelings and resentment. Free seems great, but you have no leg to stand on if your friendor doesn’t deliver. If they’re doing it on the cheap or for free, they may expect a lot more understanding from you than a normal vendor would (i.e. a friendor wedding photographer might take ages to get your photos back because you didn’t agree on a deadline in writing).
Your friend can’t relax and enjoy
If they are responsible for making sure a part of the day goes off with a hitch (especially a huge aspect like catering or photography), your friend won’t be able to be just chill out and party with you on your big day. They might end up feeling really stressed or even a little used – certainly not how you want your wedding guests to feel!
I know we all tiptoe around that beast of a stereotype, the infamous bridezilla, but on some level we all want control of our weddings. Even the most chilled out bride has a vision and if someone completely misinterprets it, it can be heartbreaking. Our advice is to create a list of priorities and to not hire a friendor for something you really care about. However, if it wasn’t included in the original budget and you see it as an added bonus, then go for it, because you have far less control where there is no money changing hands, no professional certificate and no legally binding written contract.
While it’s possible that your whole friendor wedding day could be totally hiccup free, there is no do-over for your wedding day, so make sure you consider your choices carefully and know what you’re getting yourself into. At the end of the day, if you want peace of mind and the least possible stress on your plate come wedding week, hire a professional.