Understatement of the century: Weddings are expensive! So it’s totally understandable if you decide for your budget’s sake to forgo the professional photographer and go with the family friend who said they’d do it for free. 

However, if you do this, there are some things you should be aware of to make sure you still get the wedding you want. On this week’s podcast, we talked about the pros and cons of using professionals vs. friends, what questions to ask, and where to spend your money if you can only hire one professional. 

Home » Blog » Podcast » Professionals vs. “Friendors”: What to Look Out for when your Vendors are your Friends

Why can hiring “friendors” be challenging?

Your wedding is only going to take place one time, which means that you don’t want to look back and wish that you could have done something differently. When choosing between hiring a professional or using a friend, it’s important to understand that the dynamics can change. 

Working with a family member or friend can make it uncomfortable to request certain things or put up boundaries. If you leave the decision-making up to them because you feel like you cannot have a voice (since the service is free or donated), you may walk away from your wedding day feeling disappointed with your photos, your music may have messed up during your first dance, or you may have felt completely unlike yourself because too much makeup left you feeling like a stranger in the mirror.


Photography is a place where we see a lot of family, friends, or “someone you know” jump in to save money. It can seem like a great way to save your budget, however, there are some things to look out for. The number one thing to ask is what type of photography they normally do. Wedding photography has a flow, and a pace, and does not have unlimited time for each portion of the event, so it is a completely different animal than family, sports, or other types of photography. 

Ask to see the work of the person who wants to take your photos. Photography is an art, and everyone has a different style, so you’ll want to make sure that you like their style. You will also want to find out if this person will be editing the photos they take, or just handing over the SD card and heading on their way. 

It’s so important to remember that your photographer gets one shot at the ceremony, one shot at the first dance, and one shot at the cake cutting, there are no re-dos. This means having a full conversation with them to ensure they are equipped to handle the pace of the wedding, as well as meet your requests. They’ll need to be confident and social enough to take control and get the shots you want. 

wedding videographer
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash


We highly encourage people to hire a videographer because they are pure magic. The ability they have to record your ceremony and reception, mash it together, and produce an incredible video for you to have of your wedding day is a superpower. A video done by a professional creates a whole different vibe than simply looking at photos when you look back and reflect on your wedding day. 

That being said, we understand this may not fit in your budget. If a videographer is not in the budget, we recommend having someone record your ceremony at the very least. This can be a friend or family member, just make sure they have a spot to record the video from ahead of time. Place a reserved sign in a seat that is specially for them to have the best seat in the house, capturing your “I Do’s” for you to rewatch time and time again.

Another thing we are seeing more of is in the content creator category. Couples are hiring a vendor who will be there to capture video and stills to post to your socials, so your followers are able to see your wedding in real-time. If this is something you are interested in, and decide to use a friend, make sure they are tech-savvy and know their way around the social media of choice.

wedding DJ
Photo by Yomex Owo on Unsplash


Next, let’s talk DJ, since that is Dominic’s profession, we have a bit of advice! If you can only hire one professional, we recommend the DJ, and here is why. A professional wedding DJ knows how to host, they will make the proper announcements, increase the energy, and change the pace of the event. They are great at hyping up the crowd as they understand the vibe of your wedding guests. DJs also typically have their own equipment and lighting, and they have a wide range of music usually downloaded to their computers, so there is less of a risk of technical difficulties. 

Some DJs will also be willing to pick up the slack, such as helping the photographer with angles, positions, and lighting, and letting them know the order of the events that are going to take place. This information is critical for a photographer so they don’t miss the big pieces of your wedding day. Although it shouldn’t be expected, ask your DJ if they are willing to help your friends or family who are doing other aspects of the wedding. 

If you decide to use your friend as the DJ, make sure that they are able to read the room and change the music accordingly. You can work with them to put together a playlist, but just know if they are running a Spotify playlist you risk two things. First, if the venue doesn’t have good internet, the songs may end up buffering or skipping, which can be super awkward when you have a dance floor of people or can be a letdown for your first dance. Secondly, you want to make sure ads are turned off and they know which announcements you want them to make (first dance, cake cutting, etc.)

Side note: A DJ in a club has a different skill set than a wedding DJ, so make sure you are clear on your expectations if you are using any other type of DJ. 

Check out our wedding music planner for additional tips! 

wedding planner


We see it a lot when a mom, sister, aunt, or friend steps in to be the wedding planner. A key thing to consider here is what that person is giving up in order to be your wedding coordinator. For example, if Mom decides she is going to run the show, she will not be able to visit with friends, reconnect with family, or do much of anything else. The wedding coordinator will be running around the whole night and will not have much time to enjoy themselves.

Before passing the planning off to a “friendor”, ask what their experience is so you get a good understanding of if they will be able to run such a big event. Weddings are very different from corporate or smaller-scale events. There are tons of moving pieces and it is a nonstop job, especially on the day of the wedding. If they are committed to giving you the wedding you want and being there in all the ways, they cannot be a guest.

A virtual planner can be a great option as well, here is what you can expect!

wedding hair and makeup
Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Hair and Makeup

Occasionally we will see a wedding where the bride and girls are going to do their own hair and makeup. Or they have a family member who is going to show up early on the wedding day to do everyone’s hair and makeup. The biggest thing we want to emphasize is to do a test run prior to your wedding. You don’t want to run the risk of getting your makeup done on the day of your wedding, only to hate how it looks or realize that you don’t even look like yourself.

If you are investing in a photographer or videographer, it’s key to know that your day-to-day makeup will not show up the way you may want in professional photos. For those photos, your makeup typically needs to be a bit heavier but in a classy way, which professionals are great at. 


A common place that we see people bring in “friendors” is for catering. Loved ones will volunteer to make a bunch of sides, or to man the BBQ. Another one we see is friends who own a restaurant and volunteer to make the food. The thing we really want to highlight here is that typically the time in your schedule for dinner is about an hour long. It can be really easy for someone who is not a caterer to get overwhelmed trying to feed hundreds of people, and then your wedding schedule gets pushed back while people finish eating. 

A trend we have been seeing is hiring a food truck for your wedding. This can be a great option if you have 50 people or less, or to bring in as a late-night snack food truck. However, just like a friend or restaurant owner, it can be overwhelming to have a huge dinner rush come through and only have an hour to make all the food and people to eat. When using a food truck, make sure to ask them what volume of people they can handle and if they have ever done a wedding before.

What is your focus?

Overall we recommend that you take a step back in your wedding planning and decide what you want the focus to mostly be on. 

If you are foodies, and you really want an elegant 3-course meal, don’t have your friend manage the BBQ.

Do you love to dance and want a hyped-up dance floor all night long, with a DJ playing all the hits? Hire a professional wedding DJ. 

Spend your budget on whatever it is that is most important to you on your wedding day, and don’t let anyone make that decision for you. 

Your family or friends who love you and care about you, may want to volunteer, but do they know what they are getting themselves into? You only get one wedding day, and you don’t want to look back and regret not hiring a professional to highlight the most important pieces for you. Follow us on TikTok and Instagram for more helpful wedding planning tips! If you are interested in a consultation on wedding planning or DJ advice, set up a virtual meeting with us!

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Professionals vs. “Friendors”: What to Look Out for when your Vendors are your Friends



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