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Need advice for a seriously strange situation...

So I posted yesterday about bartering for services, and I am starting to feel very strange about this whole situation. Sorry this is going to be long, but bear with me please. So you may or may not have heard of this woman, Kerry Coryell from Orange County. She is basically bartering, no begging, her way to her dream wedding. This is the think to an article about her and her craigslist post:http://www.ocregister.com/articles/kerry-says-wedding-2500769-mom-agohttp://orangecounty.craigslist.org/bar/1270732487.htmlWell, I definitely have mixed feelings about this, mainly because I thoroughly believe that people should only plan the wedding that they can afford. I would never beg for people to pay or help me have a dream wedding, especially since there are so many women out there who understand that they can't afford it and just do JOP or something. With that being said, I have also seen a few articles in magazines and such which say it's becoming common (or at least not so unheard of) to barter legitimate services for wedding services. Here is an article from Brides.com:http://www.brides.com/planning/budget/feature/article/193480Now, I read this article a few months ago and thought it would be cool to do something like that if I had a special skill that I could barter for. And yesterday it hit me: I've been trying to start up my own home and office organization business. Why can't I barter my legit services for some wedding services. I could at least get a discount on those services. So fast forward to last night. I had four emails in response to an ad that I placed on craigslist for this. One was a photographer who said that if I can't find anyone, to keep him in mind. I wouldn't get a discount, but I guess it's nice that he reached out to me. The second was from another photographer (you may have heard of him, Brett Szemple?) who is doing a wedding book and charging $1,500 for a package that was originally $4,500. That is a pretty sweet deal, and I might just take that. But it's the other two that I really don't know what to do with. Both the DJ and the DOC who are doing this craigslist brides wedding offered to do my wedding. For free. They said that they are enjoying working with this woman, and would like to do it again. And I honestly don't know how to feel about that. At first it sounds like a pretty awesome deal. I would get two major vendors for free (they don't even want my services). But I thought about it and I'm nervous that they expect me to be another bride like this beg, barter, or bride. I don't want to be on the news, and I don't want to put ads on my veil (like another woman I read about). I just want a normal wedding. Now, I don't want to seem ungrateful, but how do I handle this? Do I require them to sign the same contract that I would normally sign (since, of course, I really do need these vendors and I wouldn't want them to flake on me just because I'm getting it for free)? Please help me out here, because I'm honestly at a loss as to what to do.And please don't think that I'm just another bride trying to get a wedding for free. That honestly wasn't my intention. I just saw the article saying that it's okay to barter services and I figured I could do that too. I am fully prepared to only have the wedding I can afford, this just happened to drop into my lap. TIA for the advice, and sorry for the long post.
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Re: Need advice for a seriously strange situation...

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    People don't do things for no reason. DJ and DOC (and photography) services are expensive for a reason. I think if you take these services for free, you'll get what you paid for. There's a very good chance they won't show up (because what's the incentive?) Even if they break the contract, they don't owe you any money - you paid them nothing. And please don't think that I'm just another bride trying to get a wedding for free. That honestly wasn't my intention.If this wasn't your intention, why did you place the craigslist ad?
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    Just ask them what they would expect form you in return for free services.  If you don't like their answer, say no.  If it's something you can deal with, say okay.  If you decide to use them, get a contract even though their services are free.  You want to protect yourself so they can't just bail out at the last minute or anything.
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    I wouldn't do it.  If you don't pay them, you have no recourse if they don't do what they said they would.  Since you lost nothing in hiring them there's nothing to get back.I hired a family friend to do our pictures.  She offerred to do them for free, but I refused.  We paid her something like $300, plus bought a new battery for her camera and some new memory cards.Remember: you get what you pay for.
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    [i]If this wasn't your intention, why did you place the craigslist ad?[/i] This. The situation did not just "drop into your lap" you asked for it.
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    I absolutely did not ask for free services for nothing in return. If you read my post it said that I wanted to barter my legitimate services (which I have read legitimate wedding articles about) for services, either at a discount or fully trade them. I never expected or wanted anything for free.
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    [i] If you read my post it said that I wanted to barter my legitimate services[/i] Yeah I know. I read your wall of text. But you said you are fully prepared to have the wedding you can afford. So why barter? You put yourself into this situation by placing the CL ad in the first place.
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    Honestly i think you woudl be better off using the profit from your legit services to fund your wedding. This is inefficent ecconomics. Also a messy tax situation as you are messing buisness and personal expenses . Talk to a tax advisor because you coudl have some irs complications
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    IMO I think that you can get a lot farther just negotiating with vendors rather than bartering.The original craigslist bartering bride seems to have been brainwashed by the wedding industry. After 9 years I would definitely have gone to the JOP and been done with it. It's about the marriage, not the wedding.
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    I don't see anything wrong with bartering, even for a wedding. Exchanging services has been around for ages. It is the "Give me money for my wedding because I really want my special day for free" brides that are annoying to me. That being said, you do get what you pay or don't pay for. Do the DJ and DOC want to take you up on your offer to provide your services? Are these people new to the industry? Maybe they want to get their names out there?
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    [i]Honestly i think you woudl be better off using the profit from your legit services to fund your wedding. This is inefficent ecconomics.[/i] ffmaid is wise.
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    You're definitely taking a risk.  And I'd bet the risk is higher since your wedding date is so far in the future. Go ahead and work with them if the terms are Ok with you and you can arrange for a contract, but be prepared for them to back out at any point. For anything that's not a venue, though, you can probably find a last-minute vendor to help if the free ones follow through. If you have the stomach for it, then give it a shot.  
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    [i]this just happened to drop into my lap[/i] Actually, no. It didn't. YOU posted an add on CL. WTH would you expect to happen?
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    I have to agree with Salt. If you don't want an advertised wedding, why put it on CL?
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    I'm not going to flame you for what you did because I have been able to get some discounts for some of my services for bartering.  There was a bride who just had her wedding recently that bartered with a lot of her vendors.  I agree with a PP who said you should ask them what they expect in return for doing the services for free.  They may just ask you to refer them to other people.  Also, make sure you get a contract, just in case anything goes askew.  You want to protect yourself.  In the end, I would at least give these vendors some money for providing services.
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    ditto pp. If you didn't want people to offer you things, you never would have placed an ad.I personally would not go with any vendors that I didn't feel were a "sure-thing'.
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    Honestly, I use CL for everything. I've found everything from jobs to friends on it. And I'm just about the biggest bargain shopper you can find, which is another reason I put it up there. I'm not trying to advertise my wedding, just try to find an easier way to pay for it. And you all say that I should have expected it by posting it on CL, but I didn't. I posted an ad in exchange for services, which happens all the time on that website.
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    Then just go with the vendors who want to exchange services with you and forget about vendors who want to do it for free.
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    Nothing in life is free.  I highly doubt they want to work with you because they were having "so much fun" with the other bride. However, I don't see any problem with bartering services or trying to get a discount.  A bride on my local board helped a popular makeup vendor fix her horrid website, because she was good at website design, in exchange for free makeup (or really discounted - I don't remember) If you go this route, I would make sure to do several things.  First - make sure they are a legitimate vendor.  If you wouldn't have spend money to hire them, I wouldn't take their services for free.  Check out reviews, references, etc. just as you would any other vendor.If you do decide to go with the deal, make sure you get a binding contract, just as you would with any other vendor for hire, including what they owe you if they break their contract.
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    You don't get nothing for nothing. I wouldn't hire these DJs if I were you. And I don't understand why you got yourself in this situation. If you want to have the wedding you can afford, then have the wedding you can afford. When a friend of mine got married last year a friend of her DH's OFFERED to do their photography for their wedding for free because 1. she was a friend (who was also a professional photog) and 2. My friend's DH had previously done some graphic design work and set up her photography website for her for free. There is nothing wrong with OFFERING your services to someone say a friend and them returning the favor to you at another time. But what you're talking about it completely different, and it doesn't sound right to me.
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    I agree with Ang. If you want to barter your services, and it seems legit, then do it, but don't take the freebies. Personally, I would feel wary about bartering anyway. I'd sooner work a little overtime to pay for things as needed.
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    Oh I'd like to mention that my friend's DH is a professional Graphic Designer.
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    [i]A bride on my local board helped a popular makeup vendor fix her horrid website, because she was good at website design, in exchange for free makeup (or really discounted - I don't remember)[/i] THIS is what I think of when I think of legitimate bartering. Nothing is free, there are always strings attached. What if they called you the day of and came up with some ultimatum? That would ruin your day.
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    Yeah, I think bartering over CL would be iffy. In person might be better. I don't have the balls to barter. I wish I did.
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    Ricks, actually you do have the (blue) balls ;-)
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    Thanks for the advice. Looking back I may not have posted on CL but I still want to barter. I just didn't know how to go about doing it. I think I'm going to ask to meet with the vendors and figure out exactly what they would expect of me. I'm probably going to insist on doing something for their services (either pay them or offer to come organize their offices). Thanks again!
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    Ahh yes, I forgot about my blueballs.
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    ffmaid is wise. ::shudders::
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    ffmaid is wise. ::shudders:: THIS.
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    I did something similar and came to a bartering deal with a DOC.  She obviously put me behind her clients who were paying her real money (even though she was going to get legit services from me).  I ultimately fired her and went without a DOC at all.  If you need them, give them money.
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    There's absolutely nothing wrong with bartering. I know a lot of face painters who do it. BUT I'd be wary of the freebies. Get it very clearly in writing what they expect from you and what they're offering you. Even when I donate my services, I do a contract, just like any other job. You should be getting a contract from every vendor you work with, laying out all the details, doesn't matter if the vendor is paid, discount, or free. Make sure your wedding isn't a "we'll do it for free if nothing better comes along" deal - some "free" offers are like that, and then you get the shaft. So BE CAREFUL.
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