Weddings are expensive. Period. No questions asked. Even the simplest of receptions can easily cost a few thousand dollars. Many couple opt to use family and friends to save money on expensive professionals. I personally did this, and have coordinated weddings where the bride and groom choose to use family and friends to bake their cake, be the DJ, photographer, handle transportation, set up of the venue, even cook all the food. While there are perks to doing things this way, there are also down falls.* Here's my 3 pros and 3 cons of using non-professionals on your wedding day.
You save a ton of money. Seriously. Your friend who takes relatively good photos, will charge you maybe a few hundred at best, whereas a professional can easily cost $3,000 or more. My husband and I saved $600 on appetizers by buying it all ourselves and having friends from church serve it for us. No matter what you're having them do, it will most likely save you money.
There is a personal touch to each aspect of your wedding. Those who know and love you most are helping to bring together all the details. Your friend who you asked to DJ, has known you both since before you started dating, your aunt who's cooking all the food for your reception, knows what you like best and no one can cook better than she can. When you have family and friends participate in your day, you get all the deeply personal touches that can be lost with a professional that doesn't know you and your fiancee as well.
When you, the bride or groom, have a meltdown, you have someone you know and trust there to love and reassure you. When it pours down rain the day of your wedding and you can't take your portraits outside where you wanted to, you have a friend to work through that disappointment with, rather than a stranger who you've only met maybe a few times before your wedding day. Having family there with you, orchestrating everything can be reassuring and comforting.
- Your family and friends are not professionals. Well duh, of course you know that. But there is more to that statement then you may think. Professionals have training, you are paying them a lot of money for quality services, they have a ton of experience, and they do this for a living. Their JOB is to make your day go well. If you want quality services, you usually have to pay quality prices. If you want your family and friends to help out, you must be prepared for things to not go as smoothly as you plan.
- Your friends and family may not be able to enjoy the day as much as they would as guest. I've seen it time and time again...mom is tired and overwhelmed because she just spent the night before your wedding creating all your bouquets and centerpieces. Your DJ slips away from the booth to socialize with a few friends and there is 12 minutes of silence during your reception without any background music. Your Aunt Cindy is baking the cake, but things went wrong and she's going to be late to your ceremony because she has to finish last minute details. Let your friends and family enjoy the day with you.
- When you, the bride or groom, have a meltdown your family and friends are there. Yes I know I used this one for a "pro", however, though at times this can be a good thing, other times, it can merely add to your stress. Sometimes it's nice to be able to vent to someone you barely know. They are going to look at the situation objectively, and be able to help you work through it. Family and friends can often add fuel to our emotional fire. A professional has to stay professional, but that doesn't mean they can't be caring or helpful. They work with brides and grooms almost every weekend, they've seen it all and no fit from you is going to throw them for a loop.
All this to say, the choice is ultimately up to you. I always tell my brides, that to use family and friends is to take a risk. My wedding had serious hiccups, and every wedding I've coordinated that used a lot of family and friends to help provide services, has also had some serious hiccups. But those weddings also had personal touches that couldn't have been there without those people helping. Only you can decide what is most important to you and what are you okay with not going as smoothly as you planned. Maybe you really care about the meal during the reception, but the flowers and centerpieces aren't as big of a deal to you. Have a friend do the flowers, and hire a professional to do the food. Of course, sometimes you can't avoid using family and friends, but having a good day-of coordinator always helps.
I hope this helps you in your adventure to plan the most delightful day possible.
* Please note, if you have friends or family who ARE professionals in the business, this is in no way intended to slam or degrade them. Nor is this an attempt to degrade any friends or family who have offered and you wish to help at your wedding. This is merely my thoughts on the good and the bad of having family/friends who aren't professionals help with aspects of your wedding that are usually handled by a professional.