When discussing the process of providing and scheduling wedding day vendor meals with HLE couples, most of their questions include the who, what, when, where and why of things. I absolutely LOVE having this discussion with clients because more often than not, they actually DO want to make sure that the professionals they have hired to provide them with high quality services on their wedding day are taken very good care of! However, without a planner – this area of planning sometimes goes unnoticed and vendors are left with but a hope and a prayer (except for those of you who have added that little piece in your contract – I see you).
I decided to write this little post to do my part for the education of wedding couples who do want to make sure that their wedding vendors are taken care of, but aren’t quite sure what to consider and/or how to go about making sure that the proper process is used to accomplish such. Here we go!
1. Who Do We Feed?
Anyone who you have hired to be present during your reception. This could be wedding coordinators, photographers/videographers, musicians, photobooth attendants, etc. If they are “on-the-clock” while dinner is being served, chances are they will be for the entirety of your reception and this is possibly a 4-5 hour event in which they are (hopefully) working super hard to provide you both with the best.
2. What Exactly Do We Serve?
I would HIGHLY recommend serving them a HOT meal. While it doesn’t have to be exactly what the guests are being served (filet mignon with a side of crab crake, anyone?), please don’t serve your hard working team a (most likely) soggy deli sandwich with an almost empty bag of chips (which is what a LOT of caterers offer as the “vendor meal” option, unfortunately). In the case of a planner, photographer, or videographer team – we have more than likely been running around ALL. DAY. LONG ensuring that we are delivering the absolute best to you on your wedding day (because you deserve nothing less!) While we could be more worried about bringing our own snacks and eating here and there and such – most of the time we just don’t have time. We are in the zone ensuring that we deliver exactly what we have committed to.
Also, PLEASE be sure to ask for any applicable dietary restrictions. Some of your vendors may be vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc. and while these food considerations cannot ALWAYS be accommodated by your caterer (“I don’t eat anything but farm-raised catfish….” – …NO), it doesn’t hurt to ask – most common restrictions can, and it’s always a super nice gesture!
3. When is the BEST Time?
My favorite! We have to be very strategic about this because there is a LOT going on during a reception and we are most likely (hopefully) working with a timeline. While most caterers recommend that all vendors eat AFTER all of the guests have been served – I beg to differ from a logistics standpoint. Hear me out, hear me out! By the time all of your guests have been served (whether it be plated meal or buffet) and the vendors finally receive their meal, the majority of your guests are done eating and I’m pretty sure your timeline will say it’s time to head into the next event – which will most likely need to be:
- Coordinated… (Planners)
- Photographed & Videographed… (Photographers/Videographers)
- Serenaded with some music and/or announced… (DJ/Band)
My suggestion? Have vendor meals placed in the designated vendor area at the same time as guests are served their meals. Are you having a buffet? If possible – have your caterer 1) prepare a separate buffet setup for the vendors so that they can self-serve at the appointed time OR 2) have plates prepped and ready to go to the vendor area once dinner service begins. I totally understand not wanting vendors to enter a buffet line before/while guests are – but there are ways around this that allows everyone (and your timeline and photo coverage) to win!
4. Where Should Vendors Eat?
For my HLE weddings, I always coordinate with the venue to have a separate area for the vendors as CLOSE to the reception space as possible. I never recommend having vendors placed in the same room as guests because…..well, it’s just awkward. We will be the first to admit – we are not guests. We are there to work and provide a service – not mix and mingle. We are eating to live and that’s it – once we’re done – back to work.
On the flip side, if we are placed too far from the reception space, we are placed at a disadvantage since we will not be sure what’s going on back “home”. We need to be able to sense the speed of dinner service, any situations that arise that need attention, and not take long to get back once we’ve finished our meal. Coordinate with your venue to figure out what place would work best!
5. Why Feed Them at All?
Last, but not least. Why? Why feed the vendors at all? Well – I believe in most vendor’s contract it states that if a meal is not provided, then we will most likely need to be allowed to leave and procure our own food. I know that I personally block off entire days for my clients, no matter the timing of their wedding day. I want to be available to them if something were to arise that they would need my assistance with. I am basically dedicated to them and them only for 12+ hours. I know the same rings true for photographers and videographers – with coverage times spanning anywhere from 6-12+ hours, as well. We work hard. Our passion is our service and quality of providing it to you as engaged couples who have trusted us with SO much for your wedding day!
We do not take this lightly. Chances are – we only need about 20-25 mins to scarf down our food and get back to work – we won’t cheat you. We’re simply trying to take care of ourselves the best way we can (which I know I’m already guilty about not drinking enough water on wedding days – ugh) and hope that you can help us to do that. Regardless of what we’re provided to eat – we’re committed to providing the best of our services to you – but a hot meal wouldn’t harm anything!
XOXO – Lacoya