Providing vendors with meals at the reception

As a someone who may be looking for a wedding photographer you may not be aware that the subject of whether you should provide your wedding photographer with a meal at dinner is a point of major contention in the wedding industry.

Many wedding vendors (not just photographers) who work during the reception stipulate in their contract that you provide them with a meal. The usual reason that photographers require a meal be provided is that by the time the reception starts the photographer would have been working since the morning without a break and they need to eat and ‘refuel’.

With the cost per head being over $100, having your venue provide other vendors with meals could be quite expensive especially if you’ve hired a band, video and stills photography. Some venues provide ‘vendor meals’, which are simple meals that are cheaper than the meals the guests are served. Despite this option some vendors’ contracts require that the meal they’re provided is the same as the guests.

Now I’m not going say that’s wrong. It is what it is and if a couple are happy to agree to those terms then all is fair. I, however, don’t feel it’s my place to be demanding food from a client who is paying me thousands of dollars to provide a service. Maybe I’m too nice (people tell me that all the time) but it’s just the way I feel.

That being said if one of my couples wants to provide me with a meal then I’ll happily accept it. I don’t want my clients go to the trouble of organising something for me only to have me say I’d rather have my packed dinner. I will ask a week or two before the wedding if you have decided to provide me and my assistant with dinner just to make sure we don’t waste food but I always tell my clients that it’s just a courtesy to ask and not a subliminal way to get a free dinner.

Sometimes guests don’t come to the wedding and there’s spare meals anyway which my assistant and I will happily take. At least food hasn’t gone to waste and our clients didn’t have to shell out more money than necessary.

Another aspect to the issue is that while wedding reception meals are great they take can take a while to sit down and eat. Most reception venues will serve the vendors after the guests have been served. This is the polite thing to do; why would you want your guests to feel as though they’re second to the hired help?

Well, when people are eating I don’t take photos. People don’t want to be photographed while eating and the photos you would get are not flattering. So the time when your guests are eating their meals is a good time for me to organise the same day slideshow and to pack up gear that I’ll no longer use and clear up some space.

Also if I’m last to eat then there’s a chance I’ll be late to the next part of the night. Sometimes speeches start right after mains and if I’m eating still then I’ll miss them. Sometimes it’s just easier to bring a small sandwich and eat it when mains are served so I can get on with the job and deliver the best reception coverage I can.