Something that we all see come up time and time again on Offbeat Bride are questions about feeding wedding vendors: when should it happen? Is it something that’s expected? How can vendors make sure it’s understood that they are human beings and need food while working an 8-12 hour day?
I admit I’m a little baffled that this is a struggle. Since my early days as a wedding photographer, I have been clear about three things: I will rock your wedding photos, I will love you so much, and I will make sure I am fed. It turns out not everyone is this clear, so I’ve compiled a list of tips my fellow vendors can use to make sure you get some food at the wedding you’re working this weekend (or whenever):
Bring up meals when the couple books
If you feel like you might not get to eat, make sure you say something when your couple is booking. This is most important for vendors who will be logging several hours at a wedding — if you’re dropping off flowers or setting up the cake and then leaving, you probably shouldn’t expect to be fed. My general rule of thumb is this: if I’m there working during a meal, it should be a basic courtesy that I’m allowed to eat something.
I’ve generally kept it casual, saying something like, “Oh, hey — it’s cool if I get something to eat, right?” I have never had a couple who even acted remotely surprised that I brought up getting a meal. If anything, my couples have been more than happy to shove food down my face. Everyone from the parents to guests have always made sure I’m fed at the weddings I’ve worked, and for that I’m immensely grateful.
It’s also important to keep in mind that some couples are paying for each individual meal, and may not be planning on factoring vendor meals into that total. I’ve never had someone point-blank refuse to feed me, but there have been weddings at which I knew the budget was tight. It’s generally easy to sneak over to the caterer or someone working the kitchen and ask if they can put a plate together for you — in five years, I’ve never shot a wedding that didn’t have TONS of extra food leftover — even weddings with budget constraints.
Sync up your mealtime with the couple’s
As the photographer at a wedding, there really aren’t THAT many times at which I can break off and eat dinner. Even when I’m eating quickly, dinner can still take 10-15 minutes — and that’s sometimes a lot, in terms of wedding day timing. I always make sure my couple says it’s cool for me to eat while they’re eating. That way we’re all busy chowing down at the same time, and I don’t have to jump up mid-meal to get the first dance or something like that. Sometimes this feels a tiny bit awkward when I get my dinner before the wedding party or the couple’s parents, but ultimately it comes down to this: if I’m going to do my best work for 8 hours, I need to sit down and refuel for 10 minutes.
Even if I know dinner has been discussed and is supposedly being provided, sometimes I start weddings at 9am and have no clue if a meal will be presented to me before 6pm. That’s like nine hours filled with having no idea if I’m going to eat. I am totally prone to getting HANGRY, so guys: I need some food. I always swing by a grocery store before a wedding and grab a bottle of water, a small meal from the deli (think those little containers of sushi or egg salad, whatever’s around), and a few Cliff bars or something similar to snack on during the day. I don’t always actually eat this stuff — sometimes there’s way better food offered, or sometimes I’m too busy to eat — but I like knowing I have the snacks if I need them.
How do you make sure you eat at a wedding? Let’s talk about FOOD.