bride with bridesmaids

Photo: Bella Wang Photography

No bad vibes to my wonderful husband Joe or anything, but when it comes to meet-cutes, the story of how my wedding photog came into my life sort of trounces Joe’s and my how-we-met.

Jamie, our amazing photographer, found me on Twitter after reading a wedding blog post I wrote, told me she liked my sass, and coolly suggested I let her photograph our wedding. This amazing moment of serendipity (did I mention Jamie is based in Maine, where our wedding was being planned for?) just happened to occur the exact week I was hunting for photogs, and becoming really frustrated that I couldn’t find any with portfolios that spoke to me within a lightyear of our budget maximum. Then, in came Jamie, with the most beautiful photos of all, not to mention impeccable taste and a spunky ‘tude I adored. Needless to say, she had me at hello!

That single tweet turned out to be the single best thing to happen to me during wedding planning. Jamie was, hands down, the greatest possible photographer there could have been for us (and maybe the best photographer on the planet?). Because our personalities jived so well with hers, Joe and I felt totally comfortable being in front of her camera for hours on end during our engagement shoot and wedding portraits—both of which we were really nervous about originally! Plus, she had us laughing the whole time, so our photos are warm and fun and happy; just what we wanted. Now, our wedding is long over, but I managed to sucker Jamie into a friendship that (I think!) will stick.

Becoming buddies with a wedding vendor (that is, progressing your relaysh from vendor to “friendor”) isn’t all that uncommon—most of these folks are, by nature, super nice, compassionate, loving and understanding people (given that their jobs occasionally require them to be therapists on the side) who spend every waking minute during wedding season surrounded by brides, their friends, and their families. Knowing how to hang is part of the job. Plus, while planning your wedding, you might see some of your vendors more often than some of your actual friends! So it only makes sense that you’ll start feeling super close to a few of them. Feel a full-on friendor situation on the horizon? Embrace it! But keep a few things in mind along the way:

Keep it professional during wedding planning.
If you want to gossip about The Bachelor with your florist for a few minutes before your planning sesh, or meet up for a glass of wine once in a while, by all means, go for it, but know that you both have to shift into client-vendor mode eventually to get the work done. If you let things get too casual (or boozy!), your end result might suffer, because your vendor won’t be giving his or her professional best, and you won’t be setting the high expectations you normally would with a regular wedding pro. And, you might be shy to be critical or to ask for changes if the working relationship becomes too friendly. Never forget that this person loves their job, and you’re paying them for their work, so that relationship should take priority (till after your wedding, when you can gossip all you want!).

Don’t forget—you’re not their only client.
It’s so embarrassing to admit, but as I became friendlier with Jamie, I got weirdly jealous when she would post shoots from all the other (stunning) weddings she shot besides ours. Obviously, I was always psyched to see her great work, but part of me (again, so silly!) always wound up comparing myself to these other couples—did she like shooting them more than us? Were their weddings prettier? Would they get her published? So many neuroses! It’s not that I was truly jealous of them—it’s more an emotional thing. Because wedding vendors play this really meaningful role in the most important day of your life, connecting you to them on a deep level (even deeper if you manage to foster a friendship with them in the meantime!). And when you realize that they might have this same connection with… like, 20 other couples at the same time as you, it’s a jarring moment that tugs at your heart a bit. A good thing to remember here is that your vendor is, first and foremost, a businessperson, and that even though it’s his or her job to treat you like you’re the only bride in her life, in reality, you’re just… not. But, you can stand out as an all-star friend (which transcends “bride” any day!) by giving them space when they need it, being supportive of all their weddings, and knowing that your wedding was one of many that help make them great at their profession.

Don’t expect special treatment.
Sure, you may have reached emailing funny-dog-memes status with your caterer/newfound bestie. But that does not mean that you can text her two weeks before your wedding because you’ve suddenly decided to double your order of canapes. Or ask her to somehow “make it work” with 30 percent less budget, “for a pal.” Believe me, it was so tempting to text my photog constantly the moment our wedding ended, asking, “Are our pics done yet?!?!,” but I had to hold back—because if it’s not something a regular client could do to a regular vendor, you can’t do it to your friendor. You never want to disrespect your vendor by taking advantage of your friendship to get more than their usual offerings from them. It’s a really bad look, and will absolutely jeopardize both the outcome of your wedding day and your friendor relationship. If they chuck a few freebies or perks your way? Be grateful and enjoy! But never, ever get grabby—special treatment should be a nice surprise from a friendship with your wedding vendor, not the reason you’re in on the friendship.

Be their biggest fan, for the long haul.
Great clients say “Thank you” after their weddings end, and disappear. Great friends say “Thank you” and stick around. After you tie the knot, your wedding fever might slowly fade (no judgment if it doesn’t, though!), but your wedding pro pal’s in it for life. And they’ll rely on your continued support, sparkling reviews and referrals, and overall good vibes, even if you never want to think about weddings again! You owe it to your friendor to not totally ghost the moment your final check is cut, because that’s when the real friendship kicks in. So stay in touch (whether you live close to your friendor or not), share their great work with your newly engaged friends, and always take the time to remind them how much they kick butt. There’s no better way to show you care. In return, you’ll lock in an awesomely talented friend (who will take to Facebook to share just-because snapshots of your wedding every now and then, when you least expect it, to totally brighten your day!).