Don’t Let Your Vendors Starve On Your Wedding Day

Let’s talk about our wedding vendors for a minute, shall we?

You know, all of those super talented people you’ve hired to document your day, play the perfect song to get everyone on their feet, and make sure *everything* runs as smoothly as possibly. The people you researched and religiously stalked their blogs to decide whether or not you liked their work. The professionals you anxiously waited to receive an e-mail from, letting you know whether or not they had your wedding date available. The ones who are really going to make your day exactly what you’ve always wanted to be.

 Photo by: Suzy Clement on Snippet and Ink via

So, these vendors (I really kind of hate that word, but it’s the easiest way to group them together) will be “working” for you for the majority of the day. I know our videographer will be filming for about 10 hours, and our photographer will probably be there even longer. They’re going to do their best to document as much of the day as they possibly can, including the time it takes for my bridesmaids and I to get ready, aaaaall the way until we make our grand exit, and everything in between. Now, at some point during the day, my bridesmaids and I will get hungry. We’ll grab a snack, or Momma Coach will pick up some lunch for us and bring it to the hotel suite. Later on, after the ceremony, we’ll enjoy a nice cocktail hour and some yummy hors d’ouvres. Finally, that evening, we’ll get to taste the menu that Mr. C and I “worked” so hard on.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

All of the bridal party, family and guests will have a chance to grab some grub, but when/where/how are our vendors, specifically those who are there for over eight hours, going to eat something?

cocktail hour wedding

Photo by: Katie Stoops on Snippet and Ink via

Y’all, I have been pondering this for weeks now. I finally got smart and just Googled it, which provided a little help through the way of wedding boards and whatnot, but it seems to be pretty up in the air. I always knew our vendors would eat at some point, in fact one of them even included a meal in their contract, but I guess I just never took the thought any further than that? Now that I’m working on final numbers and seating assignments, I realized, “Oh hey, we actually need to provide a meal for them, and they might actually want to sit down to eat it!”

So, the question is not so much what—we will include them in our head count for the catering—but when and where?

Deciding when they should eat was a little more difficult, because of course we want them to be photographing, filming or being a part of everysinglemomentofthewholeentireday. But let’s be real here, how exciting is Aunt Sue going to be while she’s chomping on her fresh mixed greens salad?

grass and vines centerpiece

Photo by: Kristen Loken on Snippet and Ink via

The time frame while we and our guests are eating dinner is obviously the best choice for the vendors to eat as well. It’s a nice break in the evening, and more than likely the least exciting time for photo ops. (I think the only exception to this would be if you wanted pictures taken of each table, and if that’s the case, maybe you could work out some sort of overlapping schedule, like the photographer takes pictures of the tables during the first 15 minutes of dinner, but won’t get pictures of the first few people who make it on to the dance floor after everyone is done eating? Just a thought.)

Finally, where are you going to seat these important people? This is where my Google search (sort of) came in. Most folks said they either a) sat the vendors at a guest table, b) set up an alternate space/other room for the vendors or c) gave them their own table, but kept them in the reception area with the guests.

I liked the idea of the vendors getting to eat in another room, because I feel like they would get to “relax” the most, i.e. set down their cameras, step away from the guests for a bit. However, our ballroom is not connected to any other rooms, and there’s not really and secluded space where we could put them. I also worried that they might miss an unexpected moment because they were out of sight. Seating the vendors with some of the guests was something I really wanted to avoid, if at all possible. I just didn’t feel like it would be a good experience for the vendors or the people we’ve invited to our wedding. That leaves us with the vendors having their own table in the reception ballroom. I was 100% okay with that IF we had enough space after we got all of the RSVPs back. Luckily, that seems to be the case, as we have had a good bit of people tell us they won’t be able to make it (Boo!/Yay!—such is the contradiction that comes with planning a wedding).

BUT. (Of course you knew there had to be more.) Which table do we use for them? The table in the corner, where their equipment can “hide” a little easier? Or the table closest to the edge where they have the most accessibility to get up if needed? These are the things that a bride-to-be must ponder. As of right now, I’m thinking not completely tucked away in the corner, but not in a super visible, million dollar view seat, either.

Are your vendors getting a quick dinner break at some point during the big day? Where are you going to seat them? And who thinks we could make a drinking game out of the number of times I said “vendors” in this post?


Mrs. Coach

Wedding Date:
October 2012
Current Obsession: Mercury Glass
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  1. Member
    anemonie 1578 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:31 am

    This has caused me some confusion as well. Luckily, our photographer and videographer are friendors, so we have no problem seating them with our other guests. That only leaves our DJ and his assistant that need to be fed separately.

    I asked my venue coordinator about it, and she seemed to think my concerns were nothing to worry about and said they would probably eat at the DJ table next to their equipment so they can also monitor the music to keep it going through dinner. I still don’t quite get the flow of it, but our venue does a lot of weddings, so I assume they’ve got the rhythm for these kinds of things down.

  2. Member
    krislynn_sd 72 posts, Worker bee @ 9:38 am

    I actually demanded my vendors take a break and eat – and if we order food throughout the day while we are getting ready that they order with us (and we’d foot the bill) as I am very against people not eating during the day! :)

    We aren’t having a seating arrangement in our reception – so that takes away half the stress. They can sit and eat where they want to – there’s a seperate area on the other half of our venue that they can sit for more privacy.

  3. Member
    Squishie 115 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:43 am

    We provided vendor meals for the DJ, the photobooth attendant, the DOCs (we had 2), and the photographers (we also had 2). We opted to eat while people were eating, so all our vendors were also able to eat during dinner (we set them up with their own table in a different room). Our catering restaurant provided the same wedding meal to the vendors at half price. I don’t think any of them took too much time to eat (I think they ate and came back to the ballroom as soon as they were done), so that wasn’t a concern.

    We ended up going around the room after toasts, and managed to get just about everyone in all the table shots (but we did have to revisit a few tables that had people missing–but I don’t think it was too bad).

  4. Member
    SweetSalz21 133 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:55 am

    Thank you thank you THANK YOU for this post. I’m a vendor (who started reading the Bee as a bride) so I know this is a tricky subject. As a photographer, I so appreciate being given a meal (it is written in my contract but sometimes people forget!). We are there before anyone else and usually the last to leave. It’s hard to get by on just granola bars shoved hastily into our mouths when no one is looking!
    I’ve found the best place to be seated far enough away to be able to back up our cards to a laptop so we’re not bugging anyone, but close enough to the action that we don’t miss anything. Say an uncle jumps up to give an improptu speech? We’re ready to capture the moment at all times, we just need to hear when the moment is happening!

    So sometimes this means we’re in the same room but tucked in a corner, great. If it’s in the next room but we can still hear, great. We just don’t want to miss anything!

    During dinner is the best time, closer to the start of the meal so we can be back to the action when speeches, dancing, etc. usually start. I’ve been extremely lucky that the majority of my weddings have been for friends, so I’ve been seated in the main room. And for that, I’m extremely grateful.

  5. Member
    SeaMonkey 4 posts, Wannabee @ 9:56 am

    As a wedding vendor myself, I can tell you what works best for the vendors to get a decent break and be there to capture every moment of your day.

    Seat them at a table in the room that is just vendors, if there is room. That way, they get to relax and enjoy their meal while also being able to stand up at any moment in case something worth photographing/ videoing comes up during dinner. Most professionals won’t stop working altogether and are always on alert in case something happens worth capturing.

    Seating vendors at a guest table is awkward for vendors and guest, but is good if there isn’t room for a separate table.

    If they are in another room, make sure the DJ knows to grab the photographers if there is anything happening so they can capture it.

    Just my 2 cents!

  6. bracelet Member
    Mrs. Bracelet 279 posts, Helper bee @ 10:05 am

    We of course provided food for our vendors – and luckily didn’t have to debate the table problem. Our reception was held in the banquet room of our venue’s restaurant. So the vendors went over to the actual restaurant to eat their meals sometime during dinner. I never noticed that they were gone. 😉

  7. mstoadstool Member
    mstoadstool 2485 posts, Buzzing bee @ 10:24 am

    My mom and I were talking about this last night. My advantage is that we won’t have assigned seating so they can just sit wherever they think more comfortable.

  8. Member
    shaynapunim 654 posts, Busy bee @ 10:29 am

    While I knew I’d have to provide food for the vendors, I didn’t even think of where they would sit!! Thank you so much for this post!! :)

  9. Member
    happyface 5777 posts, Bee Keeper @ 10:47 am

    What I don’t get is if the photographer is far from the action, or even close up but eating, how is he/she going to capture a moment? The moment will have passed already, or have already started so the beginning isn’t captured. How do you get to the camera if you have a fork in your mouth?
    I think the only way this will get resolved is to have 2 photographers, one working while the other is eating and then they switch so both have a chance to eat and nothing is missed.

  10. Guest Icon Guest
    Lone Star, Guest @ 10:55 am

    We provided our vendors a boxed dinner (sandwich, chips, cookie, fruit, etc.) and a small room to eat it in. I don’t think you have to give them the food the guests are having if it’s more expensive.

  11. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 12:35 pm

    We had plenty of room for a separate vendor table, so that’s exactly what we did. I think the vendors really liked the chance to sit, relax, and talk to other professionals in the industry.

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    betting_im_not, Guest @ 2:08 pm

    Just like SweetSalz21, I started reading WB while I was planning my own wedding (4 and a 1/2 years ago now!) and I’m now a vendor. My husband and I own a photography business. We shoot for 8+ hours on a typical wedding day. We pack snacks (I’m diabetic) and are sure to have several large bottles of water around us.

    But, 8 hours is a long day! Our contract includes a meal for both of us. It doesn’t have to be what you’re serving to guests. Sometimes, venues have vendor meals (usually a sandwich and a piece of fruit) that are just fine.

    As for where to put us – we’ve eaten on the ground outside, in a closet, at guest tables, at tables reserved for vendors (in and out of the main room), at the DJ table, and standing up in a corner. We prefer to not be at guest tables. It’s normally completely awkward. And at our wedding last weekend, we overheard a guest comment to another guest that they obviously weren’t important to the bride because she sat them with the vendors. Ouch.

    We spend the 5 minutes it typically takes us to eat changing batteries, backing up cards, or checking with the DJ or coordinator about the flow for the rest of the event. We’re not just hanging out. We don’t relax until we’re home from your wedding, the photos are all backed up to 3 external sources, and the gear is packed away.

    Ideally, the caterers will serve the bridal party and immediate family and then serve us. This happens very rarely. We need to eat when you (the bride!) are eating. You don’t want any photos of your mouth full of food. Either do your guests. I promise. Table photos are fun, but someone will always be missing from that table (are they in the bathroom? at the bar? smoking?).

    Sometimes, other stuff happens during dinner (toasts, cake cutting), but we coordinate that with the DJ/coordinator when we arrive. We also do ring shots, bouquet shots, detail shots, shots of the venue, and some other things while you’re eating.

    In the end, we’re as likely to miss a shot while I’m sneezing as while we’re eating. You assume that the vendors you hire are professionals. As long as we’re not eating in a completely different building, we’ll get the shot of your crazy uncle that decided dinner was a good time to show off his dance moves. Promise. :)

  13. Member
    ChicagoDreamer 509 posts, Busy bee @ 5:10 pm

    I would put vendors at their own table and not mix them with guests. I don’t think it would be strange to have gem in the room, but I might put their table towards the back. I’m sure that they would be visible and active and pop up whenever something worth documenting pops up.

  14. coyote Member
    coyote 1960 posts, Buzzing bee @ 8:58 am

    Great post! Our venue thankfully handled all that and had a vendor table/meals all ready to go at the reception. Yay for vendor love!

  15. Guest Icon Guest
    Hannah, Guest @ 12:18 pm

    As a wedding photographer, I always tell my clients that the best time for me to eat is when the bride and groom are eating as well. Because this is the time when you’re shoving food in your mouth and photos are most likely not going to be necessary. A lot of catering companies will insist on feeding vendors after the guests, but by the time the last of your guests are fed, the bride and groom are usually done (since they’re fed first) and are going around greeting guests at tables.

    So if at all possible, being fed as close to when the bride and groom are fed is ideal.

    As for missing any important photo opportunities… trust me, the number of amazing, MUST CAPTURE moments that occur in the 10-15 minutes that everyone is eating is going to be very very rare. Most likely it’s going to be guests going up to the head table and getting iphone shots of the bride and groom. Shots easily duplicated later on in the evening.

    For seating, I prefer to be seated in a side room, with easy access to the main room. Seating with guests can be ok, but you’re right that vendors can’t fully relax and enjoy their meal in that situation.

    Also, please please check with your caterers exactly what will be fed to the vendors. Usually vendors aren’t picky, but there have been times where I’ve been served nothing but wilted leftover salad and hard bread rolls, one time with only a KNIFE (no forks available apparently). I have been in situations where I *know* the bride and groom paid a hefty sum to provide vendor meals and the caterers end up giving us cold sandwiches. This in itself is not a horrible thing (although not very appetizing), but I really truly think it’s unethical for caterers to tell their clients they’re providing vendor meals at say… $20/vendor and then provide something super cheap and gross.

  16. Member
    shaykitteh 162 posts, Blushing bee @ 12:24 pm

    My vendors are all friends… so they’re getting the same meals as everyone else instead of vendor meals. As far as I’m concerned, they can eat with everyone else… the DJ can put a few songs to play while we’re eating and the photographer does NOT need to take pictures of me stuffing my face. So it all works out.

    As for where vendors sit… if they’re not friends, I recommend usually giving them a table off to the side (closest to the DJ usually) so they can sit & eat, and the DJ can still be close to pause the music for toasts and other stuff.

  17. Member
    schneile 58 posts, Worker bee @ 12:44 pm

    Hi, Bees! My vendors are also friends, for the most part. The band is all friends, so that’s five people. I am flying my photographer in from Colorado, and since he is bringing his GF on the trip, I invited him to bring her along to the wedding so long as she would be helping him in some kind of “assistant” capacity. And I just discovered last night that one of my professional videographer friends had secretly hired a video person to document most of the day (I had not planned on videography; it was cut in favor of flying in my chosen photographer). So I’ll now be feeding her as well. The good news: my venue will do vendor meals for $25 each. Oh, happy day! (Thanks to Hannah for that tip about ensuring they get more than bread and water….)

    I plan to offer the vendors two tables: one upstairs as guests, and one downstairs that they can use to truly take a break.

    I sure hope that suits everyone’s needs :-)

  18. Guest Icon Guest
    dannel, Guest @ 12:56 pm

    This is a great thread! I was crazy worried about this a while back because Im getting married at a fancy hotel and each plate is $165pp. I am axing friends and family to keep costs down I obviously dont want to spend all this money in vendor meals. No offense to vendors but you understand. They add up, I have a band (9 people), photographer, videographer, dj, dj assistant, coordinator, her assistant, maybe photobooth guys. I asked my venue and they said they offered $13-15 vendor meals which was sandwich and chips in a box, or i could do a sandwich platter for them (there is an adjacent room to the reception room where they can setup all their stuff and can take breaks there). Anyway, that was still a lot considering the coordinator said how that band sometimes brings the wife, the kid, etc so you really never know how many people will be there expecting a meal. I was worried what if some other vendor shows up and they they charge me extra for the last minute order, etc and I dont really wanna be pestering them 2 weeks before asking for a headcount for their meal you know? awkward! Her solution she said (and again this is a fancy hotel and they have let her do this before). She said she calls ahead and orders pizza delivery and soda so its delivered at dinner time and everyone eats and hello its pizza you know everyone loves pizza, she says this way if the singers kid is there or the wife, they can take a slice and nobody will run out and that they have said its a nice change from the good ol sandwich. This put me at ease, again sorry to all vendors but I dont think brides should pay for fancy meals for them and Im sure they are 100% ok with that.

  19. Guest Icon Guest
    angel canary, Guest @ 1:58 pm

    THANK YOU! We always are all day coverage (10-20 hours!) and it is in our contract. A good old fashioned sandwich boxed vendor meal and a chair in the back is great for us! We eat when the bride and groom eat so we don’t miss anything. Thanks for the article!!

  20. Guest Icon Guest
    angel canary, Guest @ 2:01 pm

    @happyface we keep our camera in our lap and usually if there is anything, it’s a surprise toast or something. it only takes a sec. to grab the camera and capture it. there are 2 of us, but we each do different things. he is usually setting up the studio|box or unloading, etc. so taking turns would never work. i think the couples should review with their photographers and how they work over all 😉

  21. Member
    PassionatePhotoLady 992 posts, Busy bee @ 2:23 pm

    @happyface: REALLY?! And how good do you think your wedding photos are going to be when your photographer has been running around like crazy working hard for you for 10+ hours without food? Seriously… photographers are human beings, not machines, and as PPs mentioned, that’s why you make sure your photographer is fed when you are – they aren’t going to miss anything while you are stuffing food in your face. I’ve never heard of anything so selfish as to not feed your photographer for that reason.

  22. Member
    WeddingHelperNJ 2 posts, Wannabee @ 2:29 pm

    As a wedding planner, I’ve never demanded to be fed from someone who has paid me to be there! I’m there to work and as an adult know how long I';m going to be working and will provide my own provisions. It is a nice gesture, but I don’t think the couple should be obligated to feed you. i certainly don’t put it in my contract, but I do state that my team and I will require two 30 min breaks and 1 15min since we’ll be there over 10 hours. Although I rarely take them.

  23. Member
    tv 68 posts, Worker bee @ 5:17 am

    We viewd our talented experts (vendors) and venue stewards, as our guests….The band and photographer, and stewards were seated in a little side room, but their table was a lovely as the others……minus a centerpiece but there were even a few lit votives.

    Our valets were served a platter of sandwiches and soda. Again I discussed this with the caterer prior and it cost very very little to feed these 6 individuals.

    Many folks forget that your experts are people too…and lets face no one works at their best if their hungry. We fed everyone at the same time (guests and talented experts) and it turned out perfectly.

    The good will went a long way…..because everyone thanked us and told us how special we made them feel and went just a bit further to make sure out day was special……

    The best thing to do is discuss this with the caterer while you’re planning then menu. Our caterer understood our concerns financially as well as our desire to be good hosts.

    Because I discussed this ahead of time, the caterer told me that they bring extra meals to every event that go unused. For a flat fee of fifty dollars we fed all 9 of our talented experts.

    Again because we talked about this prior, our 6 valets were given a small tray of great sandwiches and soda…for twenty dollars
    So everyone was happy and we stayed within our budget.

    It was a truly perfect day.

  24. Member
    happyface 5777 posts, Bee Keeper @ 5:27 am

    @LBPhotography: I am sorry if you misunderstood my post. I never said to not feed the vendors. I specifically said “I think the only way this will get resolved is to have 2 photographers, one working while the other is eating and then they switch so both have a chance to eat and nothing is missed.”
    This is only if the wedding couple wants the photographer to be at their beck and call, thinking that something happening while the photographer is eating will not be photographed… like a spontaneous happy dance of one guest when he finds out that the buffet has his favorite ribs… I hope this clears up any misunderstandings. I totally agree with the feeding of all the vendors, they are human beings and need 3 meals a day, and breaks, like the rest of us do.

  25. Guest Icon Guest
    Darryn Carroll, Guest @ 9:13 am

    Great article, in a perfect world, most vendors (including myself) would prefer to be served at the same time as the guests, perhaps at a vendor table in the main room. In my experience, I am typically served after the guests and in a separate area. Vendors could be just sitting down while the bride/groom just getting up to cut their cake or parent dances. We have worked it politely in our contract giving the bride/groom the choice of serving us a meal or allowing us to leave for 1/2 hour and I have yet to have someone choose the latter. I have worked at/with some great venues that seek you out and take good care of the vendors and I have also worked at venues that I need to chase someone down for the meal, can you guess which ones I recommend? :)

  26. mscoach Member
    mscoach 130 posts, Blushing bee @ 10:38 am

    thanks for the input you guys! i’m going to try my best to make sure our vendors can eat while we do, in hopes that they can finish up before things get going again!
    @WeddingHelperNJ: I think if our vendors would have asked for breaks, I would’ve assumed they would use that to grab a snack and didn’t need to be fed by us, but since they asked for food, i’ll give them time to eat! I guess it seems like they would need one or the other. thanks for the input from a wedding planner perspective!

  27. Member
    heatherlm84 64 posts, Worker bee @ 2:44 pm

    I work in a wedding venue, and the vendors 95% of the time take their brakes when the serving staff has their dinner – speeches. Although the videographers & photographers normally find a random opportune time to eat/quickly shovel food in and run off.

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