A question we are commonly asked when we get into the home stretch of planning is which vendors will require a meal. To be honest, we actually LOVE hearing this question! This means that you are actually thinking about the people who will be with you for your entire day. You want to be sure that they are taken care of and can refuel at meal time in order to keep going the whole night with you.
Couples often overlook feeding their vendors because many think that there is always extra food and the vendors can just eat from the buffet after the guests are done. Unfortunately, this is not always the case; not to mention, there are a couple of flaws with this plan. First, if your vendors wait to eat until after dinner is over, then they are likely going to miss moments that they need to help direct or document. Secondly, having paid a lot of money for a carefully selected menu for your guests, that may very well be over $150 a person, the catering team is going to help protect your investment by not allowing non-guests to eat. Keep in mind that by no means, do you have to pay full price for your vendors to eat, nor do you have to set-up a table for them (you can…but you don’t have to.) Remember that each venue and caterer is different, but most of the time, the vendor meal is at a discounted rate and depending on what you are feeding your guests, may be a modified version or something different all together. This is especially true with plated meals, as each dish is cooked to order and accounted for. Most venues have a dedicated area where they will serve the vendor meals, allowing everyone to take a quick break while not being too far from the action. Don’t be afraid to ask your caterer or venue what they provide for the vendor meals and the cost associated with each meal so that you can budget for this expense.
So, what is the answer to the question at hand? It’s really quite simple… think of who has been working all day and will potentially be missing a meal. If your photographer arrives at 2pm and doesn’t leave until 10pm, then they deserve to eat a dinner at the same time you do. Trust us, you don’t really want photos of you and your guests shoving salads and steaks into your mouth, and they need that few minutes to sit, have a bite and down some water before getting out there to snap all those crazy moments on the dance floor! You will also want to consider your planner, videographer (if applicable) and your DJ or Band. Remember, that it is just as important to check and see if any of these vendors have an assistant with them, as you will need to accommodate these people as well. Don’t forget to ask each vendor about any dietary restrictions (food allergies, gluten-free, vegetarian, etc.) so that the caterer or venue can plan accordingly.
One exception is the catering or venue staff. The catering team usually has meals built in for their staff and since they are there to serve you and your guests, they will not have time to eat until after the event is over. The same goes for venue staff (including Catering & Sales Managers, Banquet Managers, etc.). While it is a nice gesture to ask or offer them a meal, they will likely decline, because like the catering staff, they are often too busy assisting you and your guests to stop and take a break. Each venue is different, so you will want to double-check with your Venue Coordinator to see what is required.
As always, it is important to check contracts as well with your vendors to see what you are required to provide. While many vendors do not require a meal in their contracts, it is always a nice gesture to keep them fed and hydrated (with non-alcoholic beverages) because happy vendors make for happy guests and most importantly, happy clients!