Which Vendors Do You Have to Feed at Your Wedding?

Food & Drink, Planning Tips
which vendors do you feed

Photo: Photo: Tec Petaja

I'd like to take this opportunity to clear up a confusing subject matter for brides and grooms — which of your vendors are you responsible for feeding at your wedding festivities?

There's no global hard-and-fast rule about this. But the first place to check is the contract with each of your vendors. If you're required to feed them, it will be stated in the contract. After that, you have to use some common sense. Your wedding planning team, for example, will probably be on deck from the crack of dawn until your reception is over. You'll be required to feed them.

As for other vendors, my general rule is that, if you're working just the wedding itself— five or six hours — feed yourself or pack a lunch to eat in the staff break area if you cannot survive the shift. A photographer, for example, should be taking pictures through the wedding dinner (with some breaks to let people unselfconsciously feed themselves without a camera in their faces). The DJ or band should be playing music the entire time (band breaks shouldn't be more than 15 minutes each, max... and there's no time for a real meal then).

See More: 21 Food Bar Ideas for Your Wedding

The bartenders and servers? Not your job to feed them and it's totally up to the caterer if he wants to give them leftover food (out of view of the guests, of course). But feeding the reception service staff is certainly not required.

My exception to this rule is for all out-of-town vendors whether or not their contract calls for it, especially in the case of destination weddings in more remote places where you're unlikely to find late-night fast food accessible after the wedding ends. If you've brought them in from someplace else, and they're staying in accommodations that don't have kitchens or room service, they still have to eat. This usually applies mostly to photographers and musicians, as they're the most likely to have traveled to work the wedding.

If you have a wedding planner, it's the coordinator's job to make sure your final FINAL headcount submitted to the caterers includes any and all staff that need to be fed. At hotel venues, a staff meal can usually be arranged that will cost less than the per plate fee you're paying for your wedding guests. The bride and groom don't have to serve the same surf and turf to vendors that they've chosen for their guests. But when you've brought in caterers, a "staff meal" isn't always an option because it's a hassle for them to prepare different food for vendors when they're trying to feed the guests. A lot of the time it has to do with kitchen and fridge space. The policy regarding the availability of staff meals is likely set by the caterer, and you'll have to work with it.

Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.

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