Should I have a friend to do ____________ for my wedding? An instructional guide for when to let a friend help out and when to hire a professional.

Most of us do not have an unlimited budget for our wedding. In the past, we’ve discussed prioritizing your budget, which is to spend more on aspects of the wedding that are most important to you and less on those that are not so important.

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When cutting costs for a wedding, it is so tempting to allow a friend to help. But how do you know if that friend will do a good job? And if the friend is slacking, will you able to convey your concerns without hurting their feelings? After all, you aren’t paying them, and you get what you pay for, right?

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In this guide, we will answer your questions about having a friend perform major tasks for your wedding. We will help you decide when to accept the helping hands of a friend and when to hire a professional.

Should I let a friend Officiate?

Yes! Especially if are not religious or do not have a pastor with whom you are close. A friend will provide a more intimate and highly personal ceremony than a justice of the peace or preacher that you have met once. Just be sure that the friend is comfortable with public speaking!

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Your friend can become ordained online in your state. S/he will need plan ahead in order to have this taken care of well before the ceremony. Some states will require proof of ordination in order to sign the marriage license.

Should I let a friend bake the cake?

Orange Rose Cake
Maybe. This depends on how important the cake is to you and what design you want. For example, if you want a basic white cake with only flowers as décor, then go for it! In my opinion, homemade cakes taste better anyway! However, if you want intricate design work, you may want to hire a professional. If you hire a friend, they should have experience creating the tiered cakes, if this is what you prefer. Cakes will collapse quickly if they are not properly supported!

How about letting a friend cut the cake?

Wedding Cakes
Nothing Bundt Cakes

Yes, with a caveat. A lot of bakers recommend having a server to cut the cake. If your caterer does not include this, then hiring staff from the bakery can cost several hundred dollars extra. It’s fine to allow a friend to cut the cake, but beware that the recommended cake serving is smaller than what you would typically cut for yourself. Believe it or not, there is a wrong way to cut a cake. When a baker quotes you 45 servings for a 12-inch round cake, there is a specific method for cutting in order to reach those 45 slices. You can find all sorts of diagrams for cake-cutting on Pinterest. Find one that matches your chosen cake, and print it for your friend to follow. If you don’t, you may run out of cake before serving all of your guests!

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One time I cut the cake for a friend’s wedding. I followed a cake-cutting guide, but I still had cake EVERYWHERE! And I was wearing my bridesmaid’s dress, eek! From personal experience, my advice is to get some gloves and an apron. There are too many people wanting too many flavors of cake. In order to keep up, you’ll speed up, and it will get messy!

Should I let a friend take the pictures?

No. No, no, no, NO! Let me emphasize this. NO! Your pictures are the single lasting thing that you will have to remember your day. The day will be so busy and fly by so fast that you can’t even count on your memories. The pictures will capture the little details that you will cherish forever. What is the point in spending $10,000, $20,000 or more on a wedding day that will last a single day if you don’t at least have photos that will last a lifetime? Friends will spend too much time enjoying a wedding, whereas professional photographers as constantly moving, always on the lookout for the next great shot. As wedding planners, we have seen friends miss important shots, get bad shots from lack of experience, and even just outright lose an entire wedding of pictures. Not hiring a professional wedding photographer is the single biggest regret of brides.

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Story time: I recently attended a wedding that did not hire a professional photographer. Instead, they used an uncle, the uncle’s girlfriend, another family friend, and a 4th guy taking video on his cell phone. It was a nightmare. Try taking posed shots with 3 photographers vying for your attention. No one is looking the same direction in any of the pictures. There are “Restroom” signs in the background of half of the photos. (Don’t even get me started on friends holding up cellphones to take pictures during the ceremony. That is a whole other rant.) Seriously, hire one professional and tell your friends that you will share photos with them later.

Should I let a friend arrange the flowers?

Yes, but again with a caveat. Friends will have lots of time to arrange flowers and enjoy the wedding, as they can do all set-up prior to the start of the ceremony. However, unless the friend is a professional florist, keep the arrangements simple. Limit the design to two or three flowers that can be arranged simply in vases. Stick with hardy flowers, such as roses and orchids, and stay away from temperamental ones, such as hydrangea, which are notorious for wilting. And above all, order flowers from a reputable wholesaler that will only provide the freshest of blooms. We love GlobalRose for DIY flowers. (Seriously, this is not a sponsored post; they are really that good. I’m a florist; would I ever steer you towards bad flowers?)

Should I let a friend cater?

Wedding BBQ
Maybe. Consider what type of food you will be serving. If it is just cake and finger foods, then go for it. If you’re having a full meal, you might want to use a professional cater. If you’re serving anything that could go bad or give you food poisoning, again, you might want to use a professional caterer. You do NOT want to be sick on your honeymoon. If, however, you have a friend or relative who is a professional caterer, then you can definitely consider using them. Just be aware that often times caterers are so busy on that day that they would miss the actual ceremony and a lot of the reception. Would you really want to ask that of a beloved aunt?

Should I let a friend set up decorations?


Yes! Unless you have complicated drapery that requires professional set-up, you can totally have a friend help with decorating. It is a TON of work, and if they are willing to provide free labor, then take advantage of it! Many venues require extra fees for setting up tables, chairs, etc. This is a great way to save a bit of money. Just make sure to plan ahead. Create a list of jobs that need to be done and who is responsible for each task.

Should I let a friend coordinate the wedding?

Maybe. As wedding planners, we don’t have big support for this one, but every now and then it is okay. You will need a friend who is super organized, and preferably with some wedding experience. Wedding coordinators provide all sorts of behind-the-scenes help. Perhaps I’m a bit biased, but I definitely believe that it is worth the money to hire a day-of coordinator, even if you cannot afford a full wedding planner.

Should I let a friend DJ?

Eh, why not? Let’s be honest, I don’t have a lot of faith in DJs in general, so I don’t have a strong recommendation on this one. I have heard countless complaints from brides who are unhappy with their DJs, and really, it isn’t always the DJ’s fault. It is just too difficult to please everyone. Regardless of hiring a professional or using a friend, you need to make a list of preferred songs and type of music that you enjoy. If you aren’t specific, it will likely be a disaster. If you are using a friend, make sure they have the proper equipment. An experienced DJ should be able to control the volume in your space.

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That concludes the instructional guide for choosing between a friend and a professional. Do you have any stories of success or disaster with accepting help from a friend? Share them below!

7 Comments

  1. Oh my, the big debate of whether or not you can use a friend on your wedding day. For my wedding we were initially going to use a friend as the officiant. We wanted to save money and make it something special. Unfortunately in the state of Pennsylvania there are some very strict laws and we weren’t able to do it with 100% confidence that our marriage would be valid. We decided to hire someone that met all the state requirements. It is so important to understand this aspect. Sure you can use a friend or family member for any task, but do they have the proper insurance to cover themselves? You really shouldn’t leave yourself open to such liability. Personally, we had insurance through WedSafe to refund ourselves if any major mishaps occurred. Thankfully we never had to file a claim but just knowing we had the insurance helped us sleep at night. If something were to happen we could be refunded the majority of our costs.

    1. Author

      Wow! Things are not so strict in Tennessee. You bring up valid points; it is SO important to know the rules in your area, and to plan well in advance!

      Insurance is another aspect that we didn’t discuss in the article. I would NEVER hire a caterer who will be cooking on-site unless they had the proper insurance.

      1. I have planned weddings for clients where I have arranged for an NY state registered officiant and the unregistered friend to officiate the ceremony together, and when writing the cermeony I split what needs to be said between the two of them. That keeps everyone happy.

      2. Exactly. There are so many things to consider. I don’t want to stress any bride’s out (ha!) but it’s better to know ahead of time.

  2. I am totally with you on the photography question. Spend the money to get awesome photos to treasure. Also, it’s not fair on the guest to expect them to take pictures all day, instead of enjoying the party. The other stuff you mention; well, it depends on the friend. In all cases, it’s much easier telling someone you have paid to do a job exactly what you want, than telling a friend who is doing if for free.

  3. Great article! Another – let a friend make or bring food the day-of for the ‘before ceremony’ activities.

  4. As a wedding planner, I personally think that couples should hire professionals all when possible. (And by professional – I also mean reputable!) There’s just so much that can go wrong on a wedding day, and your friend may not be able to gracefully handle it like a professional can and has the experience to handle. Let your friends and family enjoy your wedding. 🙂

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