Working with Friends

Recently I’ve spent time looking at some of the advice we have given in our blog since we started in 2009 and frankly there are some GREAT articles. Business specialists are always telling us to recycle  articles so I decided to pick some of my favourites and do exactly that!

This article was written by the lovely  Isabel Smith Wedding Design back in May 2010!

Being a planner is like being a doctor, or an interior designer, or any other profession which involves a service rather than a product, in that as soon as you mention what you do, people ask you ‘oh, my sister’s getting married, do you know any good DJ’s?’ or ‘Where do you stand on monochrome?’.  Whilst these can get a little tiring depending on the situation, generally, I don’t have a problem helping out with an answer or two.

But occasionally, you get the dreaded ‘I don’t suppose you could help me out on the day could you?’ and this is where things get sticky. Partly because when I first started out, I was so keen to be helpful to my friends and show off my knowledge (not to mention gain experience), I was happy to help, but now I find I am so busy balancing my weddings, the marketing/accounting elements of the business and my personal life, my time is much more precious to me.

The other problem though is finding the client/friend balance.  Unless the friend in question is a particularly close one, with whom you can be totally honest, it is often easier to be firmer with a client than a friend when insisting on having the information you need by a certain deadline or pointing out that having the decorative items delivered the night before would take a real pressure off the wedding day.

My advice therefore to anyone starting out who is looking to broaden their experience by assisting friends or family is to set the parameters early on, as you would with a client.  This is even more true if you are to be a guest at the wedding as well, since there will come a point when you will want to clock off and enjoy the day.

You may not feel that a contract is necessary, but a frank discussion about what you will and won’t do, and the way that you work will not only help to prevent any problems later on, but it will also give you practice at negotiation when you do start getting paying clients.  To help keep things on more of professional level, perhaps you could discuss payment of some kind – if not in cash terms, maybe they have a skill that could help with your business (know any accountants, web designers or PR types?)

Thank you Isabel, how have you found working for friends?


  1. Carmen on 19th May 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Thank you for the tips and advice Isabel… definitely comes in handy. It has crossed my mind in which is the best way to deal with such situations. Now I know the answer, how to start off right from the beginning and a way that keeps everyone happy!

  2. Caroline Gould on 20th May 2010 at 9:05 am

    Thanks for a great post Isabel – the timing couldn’t be better. I’m working on a friends wedding in July and had a few concerns about it – until now! Going to have a chat with them about it this weekend and get those fuzzy lines sorted.
    Thanks :).

  3. Kate Fletcher on 20th May 2010 at 12:27 pm

    This is a great post as anyone in the wedding planning and event business will most certainly have a friend or two ask them to help. I have offered to run through plans for friends on quite a few occassions but if you are expected to organise the wedding and be there on the day, this does cross the line of a helping hand! As Isabel mentioned, ascertain early on what they expect – you can always offer them ‘mates rates’!

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