You know those signs at the zoo? “Don’t feed the animals”… well those signs do not exist for photographers. Photographers do in fact eat, and you’re totally allowed to feed them 😉 Sometime last year we were asked by a couple “do you eat dinner at our wedding”? and recently another couple was curious about what we’d be up to during dinner at their reception. Today we’re tackling the topic of food and your wedding photographers (and other wedding vendors too) today! Here’s the long version of our answer…
On the morning of your wedding day we make sure to eat a big breakfast, and depending on our start time we sometimes fit in lunch before coverage begins. Usually though, we’re starting the day around 11 or 12, and that’s right around lunch time. At this point in our coverage timeline, we’re just getting started with details and getting ready photos. There’s a timeline to stick to! By the time we get through getting ready, first look, portraits, group photos, and decor photos there’s a few minutes to regroup before the ceremony. If we have time, we’ll pull a granola bar out of our camera bag and try to remember to chew quickly, but often times this just doesn’t happen. It’s ok though, we’re still full of energy and going strong at this point. After the ceremony, it’s time to tackle family formals which require a loud teacher voice and calm chaos to get through the requested photo list. Next we get to have fun with the sunset session, which is one of our most favorite times of the day! With a few minutes to spare, we are now rushing into the reception space to set up our lighting and prepare for entrances, first dance, and toasts. By now, 6 to 8 hours have passed, and we have usually been running, standing or walking during all of them. If we’re lucky, we remembered to at least stop to drink some water since starting that morning. The buffet opens, or the first course is plated at the tables. The Bride and Groom sit down together to enjoy their meal, and the sound of clicking glasses and happy chatter fill the room. Ahhhh, it’s time for guests to relax and eat! So what are we up to? Without sounding rude or entitled, we hope that this is the time when we get to eat. Why aren’t we doing what we’ve been paid to do? Have you ever seen a photo of yourself chewing? No one wants photos of themselves shoveling chicken oscar into their mouths. The 20 to 30 minutes that the couple spend eating their own meals, is when we have the opportunity to use the bathroom, reload our batteries and memory cards, double check shot lists, and plan for the remaining hours of the reception. While we do this, it would be so awesome if we could quickly eat something too.
At the almost 100 weddings we’ve photographed we’ve been graciously served dinner 90% of the time, and we are always so grateful for the hospitality of our couples and the catering staff who accommodate us. We know planning a wedding and covering the high cost involved makes feeding your vendors seem a little odd, but feeding the vendors who are present during dinner is standard. A vendor meal is not written into our contract, so technically none of our couples ever has to feed us, but wobbly photographers with low blood sugar do not make for a good time. As soon as the reception gets going, it’s time for us to really be on our A game, getting into the mix, having a keen awareness of what’s going on around us, ready to jump in and photograph the fun, candid moments of the reception. It’s nice to have a little energy for this part.
It’s important that we eat when the couple eats. No we don’t think that highly of ourselves, there’s actually some logistical thinking behind this request. While the couple is eating, that’s the only 20 to 30 minute window we have in the entire day where we know nothing too huge is going to happen. If the couple is sitting down to eat, we should be too, because as soon as they stand up to start greeting guests table by table, we need to be there with our cameras. If your photographers are fed after the last guest is fed… well by that point the parent dances are about to start and we’ve missed our window of time. When there is a buffet, things are very easy as we can jump in line after the head table has had an opportunity to fill their plates. We quickly and quietly sneak off to scarf down some food, then camera up and get ready for what’s next. If however meals are plated, please communicate with your caterer early on that you would like your photographers (and DJ, and Videographer and Coordinator) to be served at the same time as the couple/head table. This will make a huge difference in our energy level the rest of the night, and we’ll love you forever.
We’re lucky. We work with couples who feel like friends and treat us like more than hired vendors. Our amazing couples really make life good for us, and we can’t say thank you enough!
So now here’s the short version of the answer to this question…
Yes, we do need to eat dinner at your wedding. We’ll only be away from the dance floor for about 30 minutes max, and while we eat we’re working on behind the scenes, necessary items that need our attention. We won’t miss anything special and the meals you provide for us won’t go to waste, if you ask your caterer to feed us immediately after they serve the couple.
We hope this helps!