Many of our clients have sent me an email at some point to ask me this question in one form or another – so I figured it would be easier to just write a post about it! It is a bit of a touchy subject for some photographers (I’m honestly not really sure why) – but I’m just going to put it all out there (as I always do) and tell you what has worked for us and what has not worked in the past.
Generally speaking, James and I eat our ‘last meal’ an hour or two before wedding photography coverage starts to give us enough time to change into our dress clothes and drive to the venue. On most wedding days that means we last ate around noon. Coverage starts around 1 or 2pm and we’re on our feet shooting/running around all day. So by the time dinner rolls around 7 or 8 hours after our last meal – we are pretty ravenous (to put it lightly). Of course we bring snacks along to keep us from passing out – but almonds and granola bars only go so far. Like all normal human beings – we function best and do our best work when we are hydrated and fed. (I sometimes like to believe I’m super human and don’t need any of that on wedding days – but my body quickly tells me differently if neglected… and James likes to remind me of it as well. haha)
Anyway – I feel like this is such an important topic to educate clients about because otherwise caterers and venues oftentimes take it into their own hands. If the couple is educated and proactive about this topic with their venue/caterer, then they are able to get the most out of their photography investment (i.e. we don’t miss important moments during dinner or the reception), and they are also able to make sure their vendors are taken care of – which also helps us to do our best work for you! (See above point about unfortunately not being super humans… ;))
So – here we go… some tips on Feeding Your Photographers! 🙂 (**I should note that this is simply what we have learned over the course of shooting weddings for the past 5 years and what works best for us.)
It is key (if possible) to feed your photographers in the same room where the rest of the wedding is happening/where the guests are eating.
Why? That way we can have a front row seat to what is happening and are able to pop up and grab pictures if something worth documenting occurs! Maybe your grandma made her to way to the head table to chat with you and you’re having a special moment together… Maybe your parents are enjoying a slow dance between courses… If we’re in the same room then we’re able to see these things as they are happening and hop up to document them so no moments are missed! If we’re put in the kitchen to eat, or another part of the venue completely – we won’t be able to see those moments in real time and will miss them.
Also the toasts/speeches (and in some case important dances) happen between courses and if we’re in the room then we’re right there immediately ready to capture those moments – which helps keep the day flowing smoothly so nobody has to come looking for us before they can start! In the past we have been put in different rooms throughout the venue to eat and although we were promised by the DJ or MC that they would come let us know when speeches or important moments were happening – we have had cases where the DJ never came to get us and we were eating in another room when the mother of the bride got up to give a speech! If we had been seated in the room – that never would have happened.
When: (This is the most important point of all!!!)
It is important that photographers are fed at the same time as the rest of the guests, and if possible we should be fed shortly after the head table gets their food.
Why? This way we are able to sit down and eat our food while the couple is eating, and we’re done eating when the couple is done eating too! For one – most people don’t want photos of them stuffing their faces – so if we’re eating when you’re eating – that works out great! That also means when you get up to walk from table to table to greet guests and say hello while they finish their meals – we’ve already finished our meals as well and are able to tag along with you and snap those great candid moments with your guests!
In the past we’ve had weddings where the venue insisted on making sure every guest was fed before we were given our meal in another room. As it turned out in a few cases – we were given our food approximately 2 minutes before dancing was about to start – which means we had about 1 minute to inhale as much food as humanly possible before having to run back into the reception room to document the first dance. In one case, I was given my meal 15 minutes after dancing had started and therefore had no option to stop and eat since I needed to document the dancing. This meant over the course of that day I was able to eat lunch at 12 before I left my house and then was not able to eat anything again until I arrived home from the wedding at 10:30pm. (I don’t know about you guys – but I don’t function well going on 11 hours of not eating…)
I’m not going to tell you what specifically to feed us, but I will educate you on the difference between a guest’s meal and a “vendor meal.” We’ve had clients who gave us vendor meals and later found out what we were given (because they asked) and told us they wished they had known the difference, because they would have given us a regular guest’s meal. But there is no way for couples to know anything about this if we don’t educate them on it – as with all things.
A Guest’s Meal is selected by you during the tasting, it is what you are served at your wedding, and it is a hot meal (usually).
A Vendor Meal (in our experience) is a pre-made cold sandwich in a plastic to-go container. In some cases they come with a side – like an apple, or a small bag of Doritos, or on really good days – a cookie. 🙂 They are usually served to vendors in rooms other than the main reception room – sometimes at a table in the hallway, sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes in a separate “break” room elsewhere in the venue, or in some cases – we eat them sitting on the floor of the main ballroom during cocktail hour while guests are in another room. (I want to note – We are not food snobs! 🙂 We are fine getting vendor meals as long as we are given them before or at the same time the guests & head table are being served to ensure we can eat while no major moments are happening at the reception – toasts/first dances/etc – and to make sure we are fed at a reasonable hour so we don’t pass out… haha)
**All these points being said – of course we have one major tip that can…
1. Make this super easy on you.
2. Take out all the back and forth with the caterers/venue about our meals.
3. Ensure we are fed at the right time and right place (so we don’t miss any moments).
4. Make sure that we are taken care of/fed (so we can perform our job to the best of our ability).
And that is… ** Seat us at a table in the main room as if we were guests at your wedding!!** 🙂 Many clients even just have a table that is specified for vendors at the edge of the room so they ensure we are fed on time and still in the room so we don’t miss any of the action.
(We promise we clean up nicely for weddings and won’t bite your other guests…) 😉
If you are working with another photographer for your wedding, of course make sure to contact them to see what their preference is and how they work the best! This is just what works best for us and tips we have for our future and current clients to make sure they get the most out of their wedding photography coverage!
**Side note/tidbit: All photos included in this post were taken at weddings where we were seated in the reception room as guests.