The decreasing cost of consumer/prosumer camera equipment and editing software is blurring the lines between amateur photography and professional photography.
I've lost count just how many times I've heard of couples deciding to use friends who have a fancy camera to shoot their wedding for free, or do the wedding photography as a gift. In principle it sounds like you're onto a winner. Saving £££'s to spend elsewhere - What could go possibly go wrong!
Weddings are fast paced & stressful, the light is constantly changing throughout the day - as is the weather and there may be a long list of group shots to get through before dinner which has just been pushed forward 30 minutes so there's now only 10 minutes to do them and everyone has suddenly disappeared. Wedding photography is definitely not a job for the faint-hearted.
Let me ask you this. Does your friend have back up cameras and back up lenses and insurance? How will they back up and store your wedding photographs afterwards? How will they edit them? What happens if something goes wrong on the wedding day, or before? - is your friendship strong enough for that?
If somebody handed you a pen and notebook and asked you to write a novel like JK Rowling, could you? If you were given a paintbrush and canvas could you paint like Van Gough? If you had the best lobster and caviar, would you be able to create a Michelin star meal?
Just because the tools are there and more accessible than ever, doesn’t mean that the person behind the lens knows what they are doing. And even if they do know what they are doing they will probably not have the experience of shooting a wedding first hand nor will they appreciate the responsibility or the pressure that is on their shoulders to get it right first time, because there are no second chances at weddings. It's clichéd but it's true - the memories will fade but your photographs will last generations and there's no going back to repeat the day if the photos end up ruined.
When you invest in a full time professional wedding photographer to shoot your day, you will be reassured that this is their sole profession. It's their life. They will be insured, they will have back up equipment and back up back up equipment. They will (hopefully) shoot to dual card slots and have enough batteries to sink a battleship. They will have no day job to contend with, they will have plenty of experience being the main wedding photographer at different locations and they will have processes in place for backing up your images and storing them as well as taking care of your personal data safely.
They do this job, weekend after weekend and they love the pressure and the responsibility of shooting a wedding. They are creative & talented & passionate. They won't drink your bar dry or catch up with long lost friends (I hope!). They will be your eyes and ears and they are focused on your wedding, giving you the best possible pictures and keeping your pictures safe.
My advice is simple, if you are thinking of having a friend take your wedding photos for whatever reason, please make sure you and your partner are 1000% happy that if things don't turn out the way you had hoped, then that's ok and your friendship won't suffer.