Open thread: Will you feed your wedding vendors?

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Photo from Jacqui and Sam's wedding by Zac Wolf
Do you include your vendors in your head count for food? I ask because in my first wedding, I did not. And then my hired professional photographer got in line for the buffet and sat down with their assistant and ate. Should I be including my DJ, and some of the “hired help” in meal counts?

I can answer this as a former wedding photographer: Please, yes, include your vendors in the food-havings, if possible. I always packed a few snacks just in case my energy started fading, but a couple of granola bars can't beat a full meal after hours and hours of hard work, with more hours to go!

A lot of the times the venues actually had vendor meals — a much MUCH lesser version of the food everyone else was eating. But nothing makes your vendors feel like they're part of the event, and therefore want to go that extra mile for you, than when you keep their tummies happy.

That being said, what are all y'all planning (or did you plan) as far as feeding wedding vendors?

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Comments on Open thread: Will you feed your wedding vendors?

  1. My photographer explicitly asked that, as part of his fee, he would be fed. I would have offered that anyway, as he was stuck in the ballroom photographing the meal, and it would have seemed pretty mean not to include him in it. I figure that goes for basically anyone the marrying couple are requiring to be present during the meal–entertainers, coordinators, anyone who can’t really leave to go get a sandwich should be fed.

    An interesting wrinkle to this path is it makes you really think about the personalities of the vendors you hire–whether you’d be comfortable with them joining your guests for a meal. If the answer is no, maybe you really don’t want that person at your wedding at all. With our photog, I was pleased to have such a cool guy at our wedding, and sat him at a table with other similarly cool people so that they could enjoy each other’s company–he’s actually in some people’s candid shots of the night!

    • Yes! The personalities of our vendors was so important to us. Our videographer and his wife has actually become good friends of ours. We skype them every few months. I feel like my wedding day will be a really intimate time shared with our family and friends, and I cannot imagine having someone there who is basically a stranger.

  2. Our photographer has a section in her contract about an appropriate meal being provided for bookings over a certain number of hours. She laughed about it when we were going through the contract and said, “Yeah, you only make that mistake once!”

    We’re including all vendors and service providers who will be present in our head count: photographers, officiant, friend-who’s-DJing. The last thing we want is for our vendors to get hangry–it could get ugly.

  3. It is in the contracts for both my band and the day of planner. The day of planner will be with us for 12 hours and specified 3 meals in her contract. I assume they will be whatever we are all eating. The band asked for dinner and unlimited water and soda. I will also make sure the photographer knows she is welcome to eat as well. I assume that the vendors will grab their food from the buffet after everyone else has gone through, but that remains to be seen….

    • I wouldn’t assume this — our photographer hopped in at the front of the line (and missed us going around and chatting with all our guests).

      • I’m a photographer, and I’ve found that the best time to eat is when the couple are eating – that’s when I’m missed least, because who wants pictures of themselves eating? When I wait until all the guests have gone through the buffet, then I may be starting my dinner as the couple finish. Often that’s when they get up and visit tables to chat with their guests, and I don’t want to miss that. Usually I have a quick chat with the wedding planner or the couple and make sure we’re all on the same page and it’s OK with them if I jump in line early so I can be finished when they are. However, it sounds like your photographer didn’t check in and therefore missed something. I recommend making sure your photographer has a very clear, detailed understanding of your schedule so they know when they can safely disappear to eat.

        • That makes a lot of sense- and I haven’t even thought of it! Thanks for the insight 🙂

        • Yeah, our schedule wasn’t detailed to the point of the order of who was eating when, just that it was dinner time, and my partner went into host mode and wanted the guests to eat first (which of course means we ended up not eating).

  4. We did not have it listed in the contracts but we fed our vendors. They all told us we don’t have to but we really wanted them not to starve and be able to do their jobs without fainting from hunger or getting hangry. Out of all the vendors we hired, which wasn’t many, we looked at who was going to be there for more than 4-5 hours. We fed our DJ, photographers (we had 2) and even my photobooth lady because she was awesome. We did not feed our venue coordinator, and that honestly didn’t even cross my mind but she was ok and had no complaints so I figured she ate at some point (the food was provided by the venue).

  5. It was in our photographer’s contract to be fed, and while our coordinator didn’t stipulate being fed, we fed her and our videographer anyway. Our coordinator made sure our vendors had food put aside for them and ate in a separate area from the guests (not because we asked them to, but I think she felt it would be awkward), and it all worked out perfectly. As the posters above mentioned, we considered all the vendors who would be there at mealtime to be part of our headcount.

  6. Yep- we’re required to feed our vendors. Plenty of vendors (and even venues where you bring in your own vendors) require it as part of their contract. It makes sense when you think about it, since they’ll be stuck there for hours on end, during a meal time, and it’s much easier for them to have some of what’s already being prepared and served than to have each person figure out what to do with their own food and when they can sneak off to eat it. Feeding the staff is standard practice in most restaurants, too. It’s not the same food in those cases usually, but there’s an employee meal set out in the kitchen for the servers etc. to eat before the dinner rush starts. Grab a plate and some lasagna/ hot dogs/ fried chicken/ whatever else is easy to make, scarf it, back to work, is the norm. In catering or event situations you’re just bringing the restaurant to you, so it makes sense that those standard practices carry over. Easy thing to forget about if you haven’t read the contracts carefully or been in the industry, though.

  7. We fed all of ours! Both the caterer and the venue coordinator told us that since we were having a buffet we shouldn’t include vendors in the count since they always bring so much extra. We made sure that everyone working for us that day knew we wanted them to eat everything! Even with everyone including vendors eating tons of food we still had tons and tons of extras to take home. My advice would be to talk with your vendors about it.

  8. I did not include my vendors (which was actually only my photographer) in our final head count. It just never crossed my mind to include him! However, he did help himself to our “midnight lunch” style snacky foods and I was very glad he did. I may not have realized, but if I ever did realize he didn’t eat, I would have felt like a total ass.

    So with my poor planning and hindsight being 20/20, YES. INCLUDE your vendors. They are putting in a ton of work for your special day and deserve food. Feed all the vendors! 😉

  9. None on my vendors have asked for or required a meal in our contracts, but I would hate to work all day without a meal. It would make me grumpy and I’d be counting the minutes til I got to leave! I definitely don’t want the people in charge of very important aspects of my day to feel like that. Plus they are all cool people I’d like to feed! Having a buffet makes it easy and doesn’t break the bank to add a few more people. We even asked our officiant to stay for dinner (he was planning on leaving after the ceremony). A cool thing we discovered when asking vendors to join us for our vegan meal is that three of them were also veggies and are very excited to try our food!

  10. It was in our photographer and DOC’s contract. I don’t remember if it was in the food servers’ contract to be fed, but we felt it was only fair that they got to eat some after standing over it all afternoon! My hair and makeup artist got annoyed by how many times I asked her over the course of the morning if she wanted anything, from the hotel’s breakfast buffet or fast food or anything, but it was not in her contract to feed her. We hired a college student to be our DJ and on top of paying her, we fed her as well, even though we didn’t have a real “contract” with her.

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