My friend Erik used to get seriously bummed out when he received wedding invitations. He’s a professional videographer, and most of his invitations came with a note that the happy couple has had a terrific idea! What if he did their wedding video? Wouldn’t that be great? And that could be his wedding present!
All terrific, well-intentioned ideas. Except that Erik never got to enjoy a wedding because he was always too busy recording it, not to mention arriving early to set up and leaving late after he’d broken down his equipment. And there was a minor point that Erik was always too nice to mention, but I noticed when looking at one of his brochures: A full night of his services cost quite a bit more than the average person spends on a wedding present. Though I’m sure they were just looking for an easy solution all around, the happy couples were taking pretty full advantage of Erik’s good nature.
He solved the problem pretty easily: He just started truthfully telling friends who asked that he preferred to enjoy the wedding as a guest instead of working. He had to be firm about it for a while, but eventually his social circle realized that he was off the clock.
If you have a friend or family member who’s a wedding vendor, there’s no real harm in asking if he or she can lend a hand. You should offer to pay at least something, and make sure to leave an easy out if he or she would rather not work your wedding. Make it clear that he or she may attend as a guest, and the invitation isn’t dependent on ponying up services. If you really like your loved one’s work, you may want to go ahead and offer to hire him or her for the full rate. You may get a discount tossed your way, but handle it with good grace if you don’t.
And, unless you’re really strapped for cash, you may not really want free wedding services from a friend or relative. It’s tough to say no to the florist’s ideas and steer toward the arrangements you really want when the flowers are coming for free. Even if your loved one makes the offer, give it some serious (but grateful) thought.
If you do decided to turn down a loved one’s wedding vendor services, make it absolutely clear that the reason is because you’d rather have her dancing than manning the DJ booth. If she’s still upset, tell her about Erik. He’s very happy now.