Do I Have to Provide a Meal for My Wedding Day Vendors?
Wedding season is here; and we love it. It’s such a lovely time of year to get married, to exchange vows with the one whom your heart desires in front of all your friends and family, and it’s a beautiful time to celebrate. It’s also a beautiful time in which to stress about all things wedding related. Will the flowers be just right? Will the food taste good, or will it be too bland? Will Great Uncle Mike drink one too many champagne cocktails and try and hit on the bridesmaids…again? Will everyone RSVP so that I know how many people to feed? Wait, I have to feed the vendors, too?
It’s not an easy time in anyone’s life when the details of the wedding day begin coming together. But at least spring is coming and that means that it’s pretty weather for stress. Maybe a trip outside to see the blooming flowers, the rising temps and the pretty blue skies might make you feel less overwhelmed about the fact that you have a dinner to serve to 150 guests at $75 per plate and now your sister tells you that you have to feed the vendors, too. Extra time, extra expense; extra stress. This is so not what you need right now.
When it comes to wedding planning and etiquette, we need some hard and fast rules and ways. However, we don’t have them. We have suggestions and we have all the things that we have heard from our friends and our families and the things we have read in magazines and in advice columns, but what is really expected of us? Brides and grooms and potentially their families spend so much money on this day already, do they really have to feed the people they are paying to be there, too? There is no right or wrong way to decide something like this, but we do have a few suggestions that might help you consider how to go about handling whether or not feeding your vendors is the thing to do on your wedding day. Hopefully, this will help.
What’s in the Contract?
The easiest way to know whether or not feeding your vendors is something you have to do. Reading the contract that a vendor provides for you is the best way to know whether or not you have to feed them. You see, some vendors will state in the paperwork they provide for you that you sign that they require a meal at some point during their service for your wedding. It’s like this because many vendors will spend all day at your venue, all night at the venue and hours upon hours working for you, and they are not provided a lunch or dinner break.
At best, many vendors have a 10 or 15 minute window to eat at some point throughout the day and night, and they don’t have time to run out and get something or have something on hand. It’s your job if it’s in the contract to feed them. Read carefully; it’s something you should do before you sign in the first place. Remember, too, that contracts are negotiable before they are signed. If you have an issue with something or you want to make amendments to the contract, be sure to present that to your vendors prior to signing to come up with a solution that is amenable to everyone involved.
Who Should Eat?
There are some people who work weddings that do need to eat at some point, whether it is in their contract or not. For example, the wedding planning team is one that might need a meal at some point. Let’s say your wedding planner arrives at the venue at 7 am to help set up and is there until you say your final words and head to your limo at 10 pm after a long day of wedding festivities. That is a person who needs to eat as he or she has been there all day long. It’s no longer even a thought; it’s a necessity. This person needs to eat. Your job is to make sure he or she has time to eat.
Now, if you are talking about someone like the band who is there only for the reception, which is usually four or five hours, max, then no; feeding them is not a requirement. However, it might be nice to have a little snack option somewhere in a break room or something so that they can refuel when they take a little break here and there. It is not required, but it certainly is a nice idea for those who are working so hard to plan your wedding.
Here’s a thought; why not invite this man or woman to your wedding? They’ve just married you, so it’s a nice idea. If you get married in a church, it’s pretty much a requirement to have the minister at the wedding following the ceremony. Additionally, it’s always nice to allow your minister to invite his or her spouse. If your wedding is at a neutral location (a park or a house or somewhere not in a church), you are not required to invite him or her to the wedding, but good etiquette dictates that you do. It’s only polite, and this person did just perform your wedding for you.
The Bartender and Wait Staff
Unless it’s in the contract, it’s not required to feed these people as they work your wedding. However, you can leave it up to the caterer whether or not he or she decides that they can or will feed the wait staff on breaks, when the meal is cleaned up or when the bar is closed for important things such as first dances and other moments.
Most of the time, the caterer already has a plan in place for these occurrences. He or she is used to having an entire wait staff to feed, and they know the drill. If you feel better making sure that things are done correctly, however, please feel free to check on this with the staff and make sure that people are being fed. Additionally, you might have to let the caterer know you’re all right with his or her staff eating whatever is left over when the meal portion of the wedding is over. It’s not something everyone might be comfortable with, so you can simply let them know if you are all right with it.
This is a person who is working hard all day long. What I like to think is a nice idea is to allow the photographer to grab a chair somewhere during the reception and have dinner with everyone else. Perhaps you are sitting here thinking to yourself, “Why would I do that? I have a wedding I want documented and I don’t want them sitting down eating and missing important moments.”
That’s completely understandable. But do you want photographic proof that you look more like a rabid dog digging into dinner than anything else? Additionally, your guests might not prefer to have their photos snapped as they are shoving their faces full of delicious food for dinner. Why not give the photographer (who worked long and hard before your ceremony and after) a chance to relax and have a quick bite to eat while everyone else does the same? You don’t want those photos, so now is a perfect opportunity.
Here’s another scenario to consider; you have a destination wedding and you’ve hired your hairdresser and your favorite photographer and a few other vendors from your hometown to come to the wedding and perform their magic. You have to feed these people. It’s not like they are going home after the wedding to eat something there, so get on it and make sure they are fed. Technically, you should be responsible for all their meals as long as they are away from home, but it’s easy to forget that they might need a meal in the middle of the wedding, too. Give them some time to eat, even if you prefer they do it out of the view of your guests. That is all right, and there is nothing wrong with that.
At the End of the Day
This is your wedding. If you choose not to feed anyone, including your guests, who are we to say that’s wrong (It’s pretty wrong, though)? If you choose to feed your vendors, good for you. If you choose not to feed them, good for you. It’s your day, and you should do what’s in the contracts and what feels right. Just remember this; whatever your caterer prepared is going to be thrown away at the end of the day if it is left uneaten. You can allow that food to go to the trash, uneaten and waste. Or, you can allow that food to be consumed by the people who worked long hours, tirelessly to ensure that your wedding day went off without one hitch. It’s up to you.