We’re about to clear up any confusion on this topic once and for all…YES, feeding your wedding vendors is an absolute MUST! Many of the professionals you have hired will put in a long, labor-intensive day. One of the most thoughtful and kindest things you can do to say thanks is simply feed them. But it isn’t always as straightforward as ordering a few extra meals. We went straight to the source and polled our Burgh Brides Vendor Guide members to find out WHO you should be feeding and what, when, and where they prefer to eat. Read on for a complete guide to wedding vendor meals!
Any vendor who be with you all or most of the day should be included in your meal count. This includes but isn’t limited to your photographer, videographer, wedding planner, venue manager, photo booth attendant, and DJ or band. It is always worth double checking with each vendor who will be present at your reception. Some of them require a meal as per their contract so read that fine print! Additionally, a few of your vendors will have an assistant(s) with them, whom you should also feed.
We can’t forget about florists, lighting providers, makeup artists, hair stylists, and the like! While these pros may not be present for the entire day nor will some of them even be around for dinner, they’re still working just as hard to make sure your day is executed flawlessly. Providing a simple box of snacks or fresh fruit for them to nibble on and bottled water to keep them hydrated while they work is an easy but thoughtful gesture that will go a loooooong way! Trust us!
You might be asking yourself, “What about the catering staff? Do we need to feed them?” GOOD QUESTION. The answer is typically “no”. It would be really expensive to feed a staff of 20+ people! But it’s better to be safe than sorry and asking is advisable. We bet your caterer will appreciate you even thinking about them in this way!
Your family and friends might be dining on filet mignon and lobster tail but that doesn’t mean your vendors have to. While we’re sure many of them wouldn’t mind being served such a gourmet meal, it isn’t critical that that they are fed the same exact plate as your guests. What matters is that they are given something substantial that will keep them fueled and focused. This usually means a hot meal, and some vendors go as far as indicating this in their contract (see above). Sorry but a tray of gray lunch meat, stale bread, and wilted lettuce just isn’t going to cut it. Imagine you were on your feet, busting your a$$ for 8 – 12 hours. Would a sad sandwich suffice for your dinner? We didn’t think so. Oh, and news flash…a pasta dish isn’t generally a good idea either. While inexpensive, carbs are going to put your vendors to sleep, not give them the energy they need to make it through the night.
Bottom line? This isn’t the place to cut costs. There are some venues and caterers who notoriously serve horrible “vendor meals”. Alternatively, there are others who offer a fantastic, appropriate selection. Choose something you’d actually want to eat yourself after a long day of work! Your vendors are humans too, after all.
Want to really score some bonus points with your vendors? Ask them if they have any dietary restrictions…and then try to accommodate them! Your vegetarian/vegan/gluten free/pregnant pros will love you FOR-EV-ER!
Should your vendors have their own table in the reception room, or would they be more comfortable eating and taking a load off in a private room away from guests’ eyes? As it turns out, 65% of our polled vendors prefer the former while about 33% would chose the latter. Each scenario has its advantages and disadvantages, of course. When your vendors eat in the reception space, they can easily remain on schedule and won’t miss a minute of the action. On the other hand, some pros feel a bit awkward eating where guests can see them. There is something about the illusion of “taking a break” when you’re technically there to “work”. Being given a separate space to relax and eat dinner can allow vendors to truly unwind and regroup. But some feel disconnected from the couple and party when there is too much distance between them. Whether you choose to feed them in the reception space or another room, all of your vendors can eat together. Chat with your venue and planner about the best case scenario for your wedding!
Determining the best time to feed your vendors can be a little tricky. Should they be served first so that they can get back to work as soon as they are done eating? Or should they served last so that taking care of your family and friends can be the caterer’s priority? The correct answer usually lies somewhere in between. Most vendors prefer to be served dinner just after the couple, head table, and parents’ tables are served, but before the remaining guests receive their meals. For a buffet style meal, vendors would be in line behind the couple, bridal party, and VIPs, followed by family and friends.
Why is this timing important? The couple, their bridal party, and their parents are considered guests of honor. No one should be served before they are; that’s a given. However, allowing your vendors to receive their meals next will likely mean they’ll finish eating around the same time the couple does. As soon as guests are done with their meal, the party begins. Your planner, photographer, videographer, DJ, etc. have to be ready for the action to start, not trying to scarf down the last bits of their dinner.
Depending on the flow of your event, this timing may need to be altered slightly. Take “main events” like toasts, cake cutting, and the father/daughter dance into account. Your vendors need to be in the room to execute or capture these big moments, so make sure you haven’t scheduled their break to happen at the same time as something else major.