On Frienemies in the wedding industry

Place Hotel photography by Vickerstaff Photography

Photo credit Vickerstaff Photography. Click to see more from the Place Hotel Wedding Ideas Shoot

I opened the blog post on Rock n Roll Bride last week thinking, “What’s a Frienemy?” – and that pretty much sets out how naive some of you reading might think I am. A frienemy, it turns out, is a bit like a work acquaintance: someone you have to get along with even though you wouldn’t be friends if it wasn’t for work.

Like having a professional relationship with someone? No. Like pretending to be friends, when really you can’t stand each other.

Frienemies: a wedding industry issue?

It almost makes sense if you work in an office where everyone goes out for drinks together or to regular office parties. But in the wedding industry? Why is having frienemies a big issue for us?

Perhaps it’s the lovey-dovey nature of the business. Perhaps it’s because there are some very smarmy, old-fashioned wedding business owners out there who feel they have to pretend to be fascinated by their competitors’ new ideas. Perhaps there are so many sole traders out there we cling together for support more than other industries do, but it doesn’t work out. Or perhaps it’s none of the above.

The UK wedding industry – honestly, it’s not like that!

I’ve met many honest, genuine and moral people in this industry. I haven’t made frienemies. I’ve made some good friends. I’ve made acquaintances who, if we had more time, could become my friends. I’ve also spoken to people I don’t like very much, but I’ve never pretended to be their friend.

In my wedding business and blogging world, there are no frienemies. There are friends, there are people I like who I’d welcome as friends, and there are professional relationships. That’s it.

Frienemies: a new word for an outdated concept

Wedding blogs’ prevalence and the growth of social media will make frienemies a thing of the past. As Think Splendid‘s Liene says, “the markets with the least creative ideas, the least innovation, who are the last to participate in social media for fear that the world will steal their ideas… are frienemy markets

How not to have Frienemies

It’s dead simple: be professional. Recognise a business relationship for what it is. Don’t fake anything more. If you’re faced with mingling with people you don’t like at wedding events, just avoid them and stick close to the ones you like. Your business isn’t worth the stress of a fake relationship with anyone you secretly despise.

It doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly…

Nurture baby friendships. People you meet, chat to, like… it takes time to get to know someone properly and they could be great friends. There are people I’ve met online in this industry who I admire and respect – who I wish I could get to know better but workloads have got in the way.

And share: be honest and open.

Don’t be afraid of the competition. Nurture your wedding business, make sure your products and services are the very best they can be. Take care of your brides and grooms, give them a shopping experience they will enjoy and remember. Any rival business out there who wants to steal your ideas probably won’t last long anyway. So share your ideas, discuss your plans and most of all offer help and advice to new businesses. I do, I have and I always will. It’s nice to be nice.

But I’d never pretend to be friendly because I wanted something for my wedding business. I’d never fawn over a wedding magazine editor or suck up to someone influential with some ulterior motive in mind. This might have been how it worked in the wedding industry ten years ago but it isn’t any more.

And the moral of the story?

I’m not quite sure how to conclude this blog post. I don’t think I’m naive, but perhaps I am rude – if I don’t like someone, I won’t talk to them. And if that’s rude I don’t particularly care! There’s normally a very good reason why I don’t like people.

I don’t think there are many people with frienemies in this industry. I don’t believe the wedding industry is full of people cultivating dishonest relationships to further their careers. (that’s politics) – but I see enough professional courtesy between wedding suppliers to reassure me that frienemies aren’t taking over our world.

I haven’t met anyone who’s tried to be my frienemy since I got involved in the wedding industry eight years ago.

Perhaps I’m not going to the right parties…

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.



  • Bernadette Chapman
    8 years ago

    I’m with you Claire – perhaps it’s my star sign (Tauras) but I just can’t fake it. If I don’t like you, it’s obvious. I can’t pretend! As a wedding planner I have to like my clients because otherwise the wedding won’t be the best it can be. Why? I have to delve into my clients personalities, really understand them in order to recreate their passions in their wedding. I’ve cancelled a booking before because the groom was so incredibly rude, not only to me but my suppliers, in the end I thought life is too short to be working with someone who is rude & disrespectful – luckily in 10 years it’s only happened once!

    As a director for the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners I socialise with planners a lot, we freelance for each other, get advice from each other and honestly do LIKE each other! We can pitch for the same job, perhaps charge the same price but the bride will choose who she bonds with. It’s all about personality which goes back to my original point – we have to like each other, it’s a 2 way process.

    As a Mum of 3 running a successful business I just don’t have the time or patience to be fake!

    • Claire
      8 years ago

      Any other taureans care to comment? (Bernadette, you might have something here!)

      Great comment, you’re lucky to work with planners who all get along as well!

  • Cassie
    8 years ago

    I’m a Taurean too! I am a very bubbly, friendly person and always treat everyone I meet like they are instantly my friend, and open up straight away. A lot of people find that strange and could interpret this as me being fake, but I am very genuine and treat everyone as a potential new friend – why shouldn’t I? You can never have enough after all! A few ladies I reached out to for business chats have ended up being some of my best friends and after getting engaged myself 2 weeks ago, a lot of our guest list will actually be people in the industry – not because I have gone out of my way to ‘pretend’ to like them, but because being polite, kind and excitable to everyone I meet is genuine to me, genuine to my business and has paved the way for some fantastic friends and business decisions – I wouldn’t have it any other way. I rarely find someone I don’t like, I try and see the best in everyone, but like you say, you don’t need to spend time sitting and chatting and sucking up to people you don’t get on with if that’s not true to you, because it will show! x

    • Claire
      8 years ago

      Hi Cassie! Oh I do that too – I don’t share my secrets on the blog, but I do open up to strangers more than I probably should! I know exactly where you’re coming from and I think it’s a great way to be.
      Putting another mark next to Taurus… hee! xx

  • Julie Boyd
    8 years ago

    Well I’m not a Taurean but a Cancerian so hope I can post lol.
    I’ve been in this business over 6 years now. I’ve met some really nice people. Claire Gould being ther nicest!!!!
    I’ve only ever met about 5 people in person, all are very nice. Some pass work to me and vice versa. I’ve met some nice people on twitter, but I’ve also seen a bit of back biting on there which I don’t like. I work from home so sometimes a friendly email from someone in the same business is a nice boost to the day. I will recommend good suppliers I know to brides that are looking for items that I do not cover. I’m lucky not to have really met any frenenemies. I find generally that people in the wedding business are kind and helpful. I have to say. If I met someone I didn’t like I’d give them a wide berth. It’s the way I am.

  • Bee Crawley
    8 years ago

    What a brilliant article Claire! We’ve made some truly brilliant friends within the wedding industry 🙂 I think there’s always going to people in life that you come across that aren’t ‘your’ type of people and I’d always go down your honest route of stick to the people you really like and try to avoid those you don’t. After all, it’s difficult enough running your own business without adding the new element of ‘frenemies’ … I’d forget who I was supposed to being nice to and not 😉

    • Claire
      8 years ago

      Hi Bee,
      Were your ears burning this weekend? Your friends speak very highly of you 🙂
      And yeah, it must be hard work having frienemies!!! There’s something to be said for keeping things simple!
      C xxx

  • Lesley Pattinson
    8 years ago

    Great post Claire and so true, I think there are people in the industry who are fake but frankly you can spot them a mile away, gushing about this and that one minute and then jumping on a bandwagon to moan the next.

    I personally am not interested in faking any releationships, sure its great to build contacts and friends in an industry that can be quite solitary (I’m thinking as a photographer here sitting alone at a computer editing for hours on end) but I see no point in wasting time being frienimies with anyone, we have the luxury of not sitting on the next desk to anyone so can chosoe who we wnat to associate with. If oyu don’t really like someone or what they are saying/doing then smile and move along.

    For me if you’re busy rushing around trying to be friends with everyone and in turn being fake about it then it doesn’t say much for you as a person or your business, if your building fake releationships what else is fake?

    • Claire
      8 years ago

      Very interesting Lesley – I agree about the solitude thing, and it makes me wonder if it’s possible / easier / more difficult to have frienemies online. It certainly makes us reach out more… perhaps it’s one reason tweet-ups and networking events are so popular. Like I say though, I’m not going to the right parties (and quite happy not to!)

      Nice question at the end there too. I’m sure there are people in our industry with fake smiles designed to clinch deals… advertising is one that springs to mind. I’m saying no more! (for now)


  • Tory
    8 years ago

    I have to say I pretty much agree with what everyone has said above. Jamie and I have been really lucky in that we have truly met some fabulous people in this industry, and quite a few of them are friends on facebook or twitter without ever actually meeting them! I do agree with Julie tho, Claire you are one of the nicest people we have met full stop, not just in the wedding busy.

    I certainly would not say that you are rude, in any shape or form. In fact you are quite the opposite. Awesome post as always Claire, you so often have a habit of writing what we are all thinking. 🙂 x x

  • Pat
    8 years ago

    Whatever job you do, “faking” friendship for whatever reason doesn’t work, as I’ve found out to my cost. It might benefit you superficially, but there’s no joy in it. Being a Virgo, I need things to be just right and genuine and if you’ve got thet, the rest will follow. It’s taken me a while, but I know whose friendship I value now……and it’s got nothing to do with what I can gain from it. X

  • Kay McEllin
    8 years ago

    Fab post Claire,
    I too have met some really lovely wedding business owners, who I have met via social media. Some of these have become really close friends because I genuinely like them as a person they are my type of people and its a bonus that we have so much in common professionally too! I love social media and like others have said, its fabulous to be able to keep in contact with others this way especially when working alone. I personally can’t stand false people and I think its so easy to tell if the person is genuine, whether you meet them face to face or online. I see plenty of this ‘sucking up’ on Twitter, you cant spot the fakers a mile off, I just give them a wide birth! Be friendly recommend one and other, swap ideas and be yourself, that’s what its all about!

  • Nathan
    7 years ago

    It is probably not dissimilar in other sectors but inherently weirder in this sector with the lovely dovey nature which does seem quite ironic right now writing from my little stationery bubble as I’m listening to Cyprus Hill and now pondering the merits of jumping (not sure I could cope these days without Iplayer and 6 music). Wow going to my first industry event was an eye opener! It’s quite a tough thing as the only people who probably really can relate to what your going through are your competitors and there isn’t enough business out there to support everyone who wants to be in it. Though good relationships with folk you can trust are priceless and I am glad to know a few other people in my sector to swap tips with, it certainly has helped and been good to talk openly!

    I like being in this sector though, full of so many amazing and creative people.

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