Lately there has been a plethora of downright awful advice written by some publications about how to save money planning & executing your wedding. The advice I've seen repeatedly given is to NOT use professional vendors for your wedding, and instead call in the services of your friends and family (your "friendors") on your big day. Just reading that sentence gives me hives!
Let me set a scene for you, dear readers...
You're planning your wedding (you know, the day you've been dreaming about probably since you were little). All the big wedding publications/blogs keep telling you that you don't really NEED to have professional vendors on your big day because they're more of a luxury. It's much cheaper to ask your friends and family to volunteer. So you decide to follow their advice and don't hire any professional vendors. Why wouldn't you trust what you read on their esteemed pages and posts? Well, here's why you shouldn't believe everything you read without doing your research.
While you're planning this soiree, things aren't nearly as stress-free as all those blogs make it out to be. You're working 40+ hours a week, trying to spend time together as a couple, AND plan this dream wedding of yours. Because it's simple to find an extra 300 hours just laying around, right? (That's the national average of how long it takes to plan a wedding, FYI.) You're thinking, "WHY does picking out linens and flowers have to be SO. FREAKIN. HARD. And why do people keep asking me questions?!" It's enough to make someone lose their minds. You wish someone - like a wedding planner - could do all the research for you.
On your rehearsal day, everyone you know is frantically working to get the decor set up for the ceremony, rehearsal dinner, and reception. There's hardly any time to get the actual rehearsal done because of the set up. (That will come back to haunt you the next day when no one knows when to go and several people miss their entrance cues.) You finally make it to bed, exhausted, around 2:30 the morning of your wedding. The flowers are half done but you're too tired to worry about it anymore at this point. Half-done centerpieces will be the new trend if you've got anything to say about it.
It's the morning of your wedding...you finally made it! But instead of being able to enjoy it and drink mimosas, you're answering a million questions about flowers, final set up, catering, you name it. Your mama & grandma, bless their sweet hearts, are in the catering kitchen overseeing the prep of your reception dinner. It's hot, it's disorganized, and it is absolutely no fun. You don't really know if you've got enough food for this feast, so it's a wing and a prayer at this point.
Your dad is outside making sure the last of the tables and chairs are set up. But he's not done because you decided it wasn't worth the cost to rent 2 sets of chairs at your venue. It'll be okay if you ask all your guests (who are dressed to the nines in their cocktail dresses and suits, mind you) to move their own chairs during the cocktail hour. The wedding party will move the tables and get the centerpieces set, while also somehow simultaneously taking post-ceremony photos.
Uncle Bob & Aunt Sally volunteer to be your bartender and catering crew, respectively. Uncle Bob decides that he really isn't into bartending because he wants to be out on the dance floor. Besides, all he knows how to make is Jack & Coke, not the fun signature cocktails you've planned on having. Aunt Sally stages a one-woman mutiny in the catering kitchen because she's tired of cleaning up behind people. How can they eat so much and be so messy?
No one really knows exactly when the special dances are supposed to be, when the cake is supposed to be cut, or when the special traditions you've chosen should happen. A DJ could have given you a little help in this area but you decided it's much more fun to wing it with an iPod playlist. No one's out on the dance floor because well, the playlist keeps skipping around and killing the vibe. They don't know whether to bust a move or grab a chair.
Your exit is a little...ahem...dull because your guests can't all get their sparklers lit at the same time. The two of you run through a cloud of smoke while one of the cousins, a photography student building their portfolio, is in a panic-stricken state trying to capture all the action. You've been praying all day that the photos just turn out "usable" and you'll cross that bridge when the disposable camera photos come back.
The day is over and you can rest. Except you really can't. Aunt Sally is still so mad about how much of a mess people make when they eat that she left, taking Uncle Bob with her. They were the leaders of the tear down and clean up crew and their kids left when they did. Guess who gets the job now? You guessed it...the two of you assisted by your siblings and your parents. So instead of getting to enjoy the first night of your married life you're carting off trash. Oh, and you've got to hurry because the venue manager expects the key back by midnight. No exceptions.
So now that I've scared you to death with that terrifying scene, let me give you the solution to your dilemma. It's really simple. Ready?
Hire PROFESSIONAL WEDDING VENDORS! Yes, they cost a pretty penny no matter what your budget is, but they are absolute lifesavers. They are the ones doing the hard work during the planning, on your rehearsal day, and during your tear down and clean up. They know EXACTLY how to get things done efficiently and on time because they do this stuff all the time. But even more than that, they give you peace of mind. They give your family peace of mind.
I'd also like to take a moment to dispel another myth that seems to be cropping up lately. I call it "DIY Shaming." DIY Shaming is when you think people will look at you funny if you aren't somehow physically involved in the completion of every single task on your wedding day and during your planning. I'm all for a good DIY project....if you're a crafty person by nature. DIY your favors or your place cards if you really want to do a craft project. But the catering is not something you should be DIYing, nor is the photography or the planning. Leave it to the professionals so you can enjoy your own damn wedding. I hate to sound harsh, but that's the pure unvarnished truth.
Your wedding can still be authentic to the two of you as a couple if you actually let professionals help you take care of things. Let your friends and family be your guests and actually celebrate with you. There is zero shame in asking for professional help or receiving it. I promise you, it'll be the single best decision you ever made regarding your wedding.
Take the things you read (yes, even this blog post!) with a grain of salt. Follow your gut and listen to your own intuition. If you simply can't fathom your big day without your family and friends doing the majority of the work, then hey, go for it. Just make sure your expectations match the bar you've set for yourself. You won't be getting that Pinterest-worthy wedding you've dreamed of unless you're willing to pay for it. As I've said to more than a few clients, you have two choices to make. You can either preserve your budget or preserve your wedding vision. 99.9% of the time, one of those two choices will come at the expense of the other. It can still be an absolutely beautiful wedding, but it probably won't be on the scale you may have imagined. And that's okay, too, as long as you're prepared to accept that fact.
So read up, do your homework, and then make the decision that works best for you. Happy planning, my friends!
What do you think, ladies and gents? Let us know in the comments!
EDITOR'S NOTE: I ADORE the vast majority of the wedding blogs and print publications out there in the world. They give fantastic advice and are advocates of the wedding industry & its vendors as a whole. I just wish a few of them thought a little more about how their advice affects readers and how much harder they make things for vendors that simply want to make a living and have a life.