Let's Talk About Vendor Meals
"It's not about you. It's about the couple."
-A Coordinator that shall be left unnamed that doesn't get it
This isn't something I would normally find to be an issue, but last night at a client/venue walk through I had a coordinator say say the above quote to me when I asked about timing of vendor meals. She told me "vendors get fed last, if we have any food." When I asked, "is there a reason why the vendors get fed last?" Her response was because she believed it was rude and that this event was "not about you, it's about the couple." At that point, I mentally had to take a step back. We had our couple with us and I wasn't about to get into it with this coordinator in front of them. But I really feel like coordinators and couples are maybe just misinformed about WHY the timing of feeding your vendors, ESPECIALLY your videographer, photographer, and DJ are so important.
First, let's talk about the way it should be. The couple and bridal party get fed first. Always. They've been up since probably 4am, if they got any sleep at all, and they need food. Also, the obvious reason is, this is their Wedding!
After the couple get's their food, there are 3 Vendors that NEED to get their food next: Photographer, Videographer, and DJ. We will discuss why below. Once those 3 vendors have been fed, guests follow immediately afterwards.
I want to make it blatantly clear....we don't want our food first because we are hungry! We need to be fed first so that we are on the same schedule as the couple. I agree with the coordinator I dealt with...It's NOT about me, it's 110% about the couple. Maybe this coordinator didn't realize it, but I'm not working for free. This couple has paid me a lot of money to capture everything memorable that happens that day. The 1 time in this entire day the couple probably doesn't want video or photo of them is when they are eating their dinner. Which means the ONLY time it makes sense for us to eat is at the same time as the couple. Again...Photographers and Videographers need to be on the same schedule as the couple during reception.
This coordinators argument that "it's rude for you to eat before the guests" holds no validity to me. If you feel that way, then have 3 to-go containers of food behind the bar that the vendors can come grab themselves. I've worked at plenty of venues who pre-order outside meals for vendors. It's cheaper for the couple, and we get fed when it works for us. Problem solved. I'm not in this to eat a fancy steak dinner, I've just been working for 8 hours straight without a meal and I'm 100% happy with a hamburger.
Another HUGE problem photographers and videographers encounter is when coordinators want to put us in an entirely separate room during dinner...especially if we get food last. You have basically blindfolded us as to what is going on in the reception room.
A fellow videographer in the Tampa Bay Area, Brett Hatfield of Hatfield Productions, can explain why: "We eat first, and we don't eat a mile way, because sometimes unplanned events happen. When coordinators stick us in some room, we miss things. We eat first because if we eat last, we don't eat. Period. I missed a best man toast in 2014 when the coordinator said we had to eat in an office. We were behind schedule and they decided to start the speeches mid dinner to help get caught up on time. I was paranoid because I don't trust a lot of coordinators because they don't know what we do. I ended up catching the end of the best man speech, and the photographers didn't take any photos of them. This all could have been avoided if we weren't in a room a mile away."
When it comes to your DJ as well, the only time the DJ (a GOOD DJ) can play a playlist of songs is while people are eating dinner. He will most likely be standing around waiting or his turn to eat while he isn't doing much, then when he gets his food finally it's time for toasts and dancing and bouquet/garter toss, etc. That food is going to sit there untouched because he's just not going to have the time to eat it once dinner is done being served. Hopefully this provides some more insight into the reasoning behind WHY videographers/photographers need to get their vendor meals right after the couple. I believe the perception is that we are just selfish and hungry and we want our food first, but it's very much the opposite. We have the couple and timeline in mind and want the couple to get everything they paid us to capture. Couples: Please don't be afraid to ask your coordinators to feed us after you. If they give you a hard time, then 1: THEY aren't putting you first, and 2:Just show them this blog! Here's my preferred coordinator that DOES get it: Kirsten Otte of Whimsy Lane Events "It's important for vendors to eat right after the couple, and before everyone else. It is the only "down time" the couple will have during the reception. As soon as they're done eating, and sometimes before, the couple is chatting with their guests, having their first dances, cake cutting, or on the dance floor. All of those events require the vendors to be actively present. If vendors are eating after all of the guests have gotten their food, the couple and half of their guests will already be done eating and ready to move on to the next event. This leaves vendors with approximately 2 minutes to scarf down their food after already being on their feet for 6-8 hours."