I have heard of this happening several times with people I have spoken to in the past year or so. Some couples have tried to save a buck by having a friend who owns a camera and may have dubiously pulled off a few good photos in their time, to be their wedding photographer….or the cousin with a iPod and speakers to play DJ. I don’t blame anyone for watching their money these days especially….I think it has more to do with them not understanding the skill involved to be a wedding photographer, DJ, etc. and the equipment and knowledge needed. Or also not understanding the pressure those obligations can put on people who have never had an undertaking like that. Not to mention the damage it can do to a friendship or family relationship by wrongly appointing these tasks that are better left to pros.
It’s great to delegate tasks to loved ones to help with the wedding, but to help serving food or be in the bridal or groom party is about the extent of it….or helping pre plan if there is no planner. I have seen two different things happen with potential clients I have spoken to after this arrangement went awry, both before and after the fact. In the past two weeks alone, couples or a mother of the bide trying to bail the couple out of their mistake, have told me about their appointed “photographer” cancelling shortly before the wedding. No doubt that will cause some bad blood between them, and for what, it’s not worth it. There is no contract or professional accountability there, so if something better “came up’ there is nothing stopping them if they don’t honor their commitments. My contract states once I am hired, I am legally obligated to perform my duties, regardless. That’s what a professional does. Or it could be that person realized, hey this really IS work, and bailed….or felt nervous or unprepared. Which if they have not photographed weddings and worked as an assistant and second shooter first, they are indeed unprepared.
One after the fact, the bride’s uncle shot the photos, and the bride wasn’t happy with the photos, and she blamed her uncle. In turn, he probably felt that she kicked a gift horse in the mouth, he never claimed to be a professional photographer, and it’s her own fault for not hiring someone who knows what they are doing. In that case, I would agree with her uncle, that it was a thankless position, and she never took responsibility for the fact that it’s her own fault. It was a bad situation to place him in….it’s better to let your friends and family be guests, not vendors. I’m a professional wedding photographer, but I would 95% of the time decline photographing a friend’s or relative’s wedding, because there are other qualified photographers to capture their day, but the relationship I have with them is more valuable than the service I could provide them. Getting into this predicament can also put couples in a last minute situation where they may be very limited in their choice of available service providers. I have met some grateful couples who I was available for when they were in that situation, but the difference is they learned their lesson. And I was grateful for their unexpected business as well!! After all, even a mistake has value unless it’s repeated and not learned from.