please feed the wedding vendors!

An excellent local photographer I know recently shared that at the wedding he photographed a few weeks ago, he didn't get to eat dinner. It was because of a simple oversight: The caterer didn't know he was supposed to be fed, so there wasn't a meal available for him. (Now, this led me to all sorts of other questions, like why his meal wasn't included in the final headcount, why the vendor contracts weren't all double-checked, and why the caterer didn’t have adequate overage available to cover the mistake; however, that’s probably all best saved for another conversation.) Anyway, when I heard that he was refused a meal, my jaw literally dropped.

How about you? Do you find that story jaw-dropping as well, or do you find it more surprising to think of feeding your vendors at all?

Most of the couples with whom we work, I'm happy to say, know that they'll need to feed their vendors during the wedding day. We still meet couples and families, though, who are surprised to learn that it’s customary to offer a meal to anyone other than the wedding guests. After all, the people you're hiring are essentially the help, right? They're there to work, not to eat and party.

Just in case you happen to fall into that latter camp, let me explain why it’s so important to feed your wedding vendors:

Let’s start with your wedding planner: We're with you all day long. All. Day. For example, our typical wedding day starts at around 9:00 a.m. (when we arrive at the hotel where our couple is getting ready) and ends sometime after midnight (after we’ve supervised breakdown and made sure every last bit of wedding stuff is headed home with its responsible party). That’s 15 hours plus, and it’s rare that there’s any downtime in there for the equivalent of a lunch break. We make sure to pack nutritious and travel-friendly foods like granola bars and nuts, but we're on our feet all day and expending a lot of energy, so those little power snacks will only get us so far. Just like you, we need a meal of real food so that we can stop for a few minutes, refuel and re-energize, then continue doing our very best for you.

photo (and gorgeous greenery!) by Holly Chapple of Holly Heider Chapple Flowers; catering by BasiKneads

photo (and gorgeous greenery!) by Holly Chapple of Holly Heider Chapple Flowers; catering by BasiKneads

photo by yours truly, which is why I'm not a photographer; delicious food by the groom's mom!

photo by yours truly, which is why I'm not a photographer; delicious food by the groom's mom!

All of that is doubly true for your photographer and videographer. They're with you all day as well, doing some very physical stuff. It’s not unusual for us to see the photog team lying on the floor, crouching uncomfortably in a corner, climbing up a tree, or even leaning way too far out of a second story window, all in the name of getting spectacular shots of you and your wedding. And they're doing all that while lugging around a bunch of heavy, unwieldy equipment. Let me tell you, photographers and videographers get hungry!

The vendors at your reception who haven't been with you all day get really hungry too: Your band members are up there expending tremendous amounts of energy to put on an awesome show. Going with a DJ instead? He or she may not be performing in the traditional sense, but that person is “on” all night too, monitoring the dance floor, fielding song requests, and keeping an eye on the timeline so they don’t miss the important music cues. And of course those wedding pros have also done a good amount of setup and have breakdown yet to come.

See why we get hungry? We love what we do and we love your wedding day so much, but it takes a lot of energy to make the magic happen!

photo by Spence Photographics; catering by Celebrations

photo by Spence Photographics; catering by Celebrations

So what do you need to know about feeding your wedding vendors?

  1. Don't worry that your reception will be put on autopilot while we're eating. We like to eat while your guests are eating because it's a time when there's not much to manage or photograph. Plus, many of us have assistants, so we can stagger our mealtimes and still get gorgeous pics like the one above.
     
  2. Check each vendor’s contract to see how they prefer to manage meals. Many vendors, like us, specify in their contract that they require a vendor meal at the reception. Knowing that expectation makes it easy for you. If you don't see a clause like that in a vendor’s contract, then ask them about it.
     
  3. Ask your vendors what kind of meal they need. Find out if there are any allergies or food restrictions you should be aware of, and share that information with your caterer.
     
  4. Your caterer may well offer vendor meals that are priced lower than your guest meals — many caterers do these days — so be sure to ask about that. Also be sure, though, that that meal meets your vendors’ contractual requirements. Some vendors specify that they must receive the same meal the wedding guests are served, but sometimes the caterer’s version of a vendor meal is something simpler like a sandwich plate.
     
  5. Try to provide an out of the way place for your vendors to eat. It’s awkward to be seated with the guests during dinner because our goal is to eat quickly then get right back to work, which can come across as rude when guests are interested in making polite conversation with us.

Have other questions about this whole Feeding of the Vendors thing? Totally understandable — it’s one of those weird weddings-only points of business that you probably haven't thought about before. Just ask your wedding planner! We've navigated this many times, and we'll be sure to keep this little detail running just as smoothly as everything else about your wedding day.