A lot of brides have lingering, unanswered questions about their wedding day, and one of them is usually if you should feed your wedding vendors. The answer is simple — yes! You should plan to feed any wedding professional who will be at the reception — from the photographer and the videographer to the wedding coordinator and the band. You may be paying them the big bucks for their services, but they’re people, and they need to eat in order to be productive and do their job well.
Not only is it proper etiquette to feed your vendors (most are providing you with 6+ hours of service, and are on their feet the entire time!), but it is also written into many of their contracts. But the questions remain — When do you feed them? What do you feed them? And where should they sit?
As for the “when,” it is usually best to let your vendors eat at the same time as you and your guests. You won’t need your photographer or videographer to document that portion of the evening, and your wedding planner will have a moment to take a breather before coordinating things like parent dances, the cake cutting, and the bouquet toss. If you’re planning on having your band or DJ play during the meal, ask them when they prefer to eat — some will prefer to get the meal out of the way before the guests arrive, while others will want a scheduled break during their set.
If you’re having a plated meal, talk to your caterer — most will offer vendor meals at a discounted price. If you’re having a buffet, a great option is to just include your vendors in the head count. Or, you can offer your vendors boxed lunches, which cost considerably less than the meal you are serving your guests, but it is easier for the caterer if everyone is fed the same meal. Ask your caterer and talk to your wedding planner — they’ve done this many times and they’ll have some suggestions! Remember to check your vendor contracts — some might require the same meal as your guests, but most are not too picky as long as they get a moment to grab a bite to eat.
The “where” is a bit trickier, as it depends on the vendor, the type of wedding you’re having, and your venue space. Most photographers want to be present at dinner, just so they won’t miss anything! One option for seating vendors is to include a separate table at the reception specifically for them, that way they’re nearby if you need them. But, if your vendors don’t mind where they eat, it’s fine to have them in a separate room close to the reception — you don’t want them a ten-minute walk away! Most venues have an extra room near the reception space where vendors can have their meals.
Overall — talk to your vendors (especially your coordinator), and make sure you read over the vendor contracts. Feeding your vendors is something that is easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of wedding planning, but it’s incredibly important!