Well, if you haven’t seen them for five years since high school then I would expect they are not close friends. And I think if you send them a contract with your fee clearly laid out, there should be no misunderstanding. If you get the impression on the phone that they are hedging for a bargain because they knew you, you could use your husband as a scapegoat to back out of the deal (with his permission, of course!) But it really depends on how well you knew this friend back in high school and how much you value their friendship. Is it worth selling yourself short?
I think I would get a big ball of anxiety if anyone from my high school called me to play harp at their wedding. Those were some of the most awkward and insecure years of my life. To have people around that reminded me of that would definitely unglue me!
If they were real friends(and had any class) they would call you, ask you to play at their wedding, and insist, before you could say anything, that you treat this like a regular job and charge them your regular fee and that they were absolutely not looking for something for free. Then, if you wanted to give them a discount or do it for free, you could tell them that.
I have been repairing and regulating harps for over 30 years and have become very close friends with many of my clients. But not once ever has anyone suggested that I give them a discount or do something for free, and that’s the way it should be. Friends are friends, but business is business, and the two should not be mixed.
If the value of your services is greater than what you’d spend on a wedding gift, then the gift of your services is out of line. If you’re comfortable with that, then tell them, just as you would anyone else, the cost. I’ve always done with with friends and it’s never been a problem.
I would charge them.
I hate it when friends assume I will discount or will play for free. It’s rude and shows a lack of respect. My best friend is getting married and she assumed I would do it for free. Now, I am fairly sure we had both said at some point that we would do each other’s weddings for free (she is an AMAZING vocalist) and she is just getting married before I am. But I don’t mind too terribly. I was going to do it as her wedding present. It just irks me a little that when the date was set that she assumed it would be for free. But, before the date was set she did say she would need to get fees quoted so she could compensate me appropriately. So it’s not such a bad thing. And I’m rambling.
Charge them. They must not be very close friends, so charge them. I’ve only once played a wedding for a distant friend without charging them and it was because they were in a bad situation. It was either I offer to do it for free, or they illegally download music files and play a CD. So, I felt compelled to help them out since they are such generous people anyway.
If they call and ask then probably the best thing to do is send your contract with the fees, as you said. If it’s too far just tell them you can’t travel with the harp but that you’d be happy to refer them to someone who lives closer and then send them the numbers of some harpists from the AHS directory. You can always ask other harpists or call those harpists yourself to be sure they are qualified. All of this since they’re not clsoe friends.
I have played for free for three weddings that were friends getting married. I did this for several reasons. Either they asked and assumed they were paying but I know them well enough to know they didn’t have that kind of money (they were young college students) or they didn’t ask and I simply offered as something I would like to do for them because we are so close. In those situations I just approached them and said I would like to offer to play for the ceremony if they would like it but I knew they might want something or someone else and that’d be fine with me.
One thing I don’t do is offer or agree to play receptions for free. Each time I have only played the prelude and ceremony because that I think it very nice and a great gift to participate in the ceremony (especially in lieu of being a bridesmaid) but I think I would feel badly playing all during the reception while my friends were enjoying themselves without me.
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