Do photographers eat at weddings?

You’ve found your perfect wedding photographer and have ticked it off your list; at some point, you reach catering and tot up the number of guests that shall be there, and then think, “Do I need to feed my wedding photographer?” “Do you provide food for your wedding photographer, or do they make their arrangements?” These are some common questions that seem to crop up a lot, and its answer m can vary. For some reason, this is often a controversial subject within Facebook groups. With lots of passion on both sides of the camp. In this post, I will try to explain both perspectives and let you make your minds up. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.

If you think about a typical wedding reception, it probably flows something like this: 

  • Photographers capture both cocktail hour and the reception room details simultaneously 
  • The cocktail hour ends, and guests enter the reception room and find their seats while the wedding party lines up for entrances (photographers capturing guests candidly) 
  • Guests are seated, and grand openings begin 
  • Newly married couple enter 
  • Some combination of reception “activities”: speeches, toast, blessing, first dance, parent dances 
  • The married couple are served dinner 
  • Everyone else is done dinner; the couple is finished their meals and begin mingling 
  • After most are finished eating or even slightly before, there may be additional speeches, parent dances, anniversary dance or simply an open dance floor 
  • Dancing and other reception activities 

During that timeline, the photographer isn’t shooting anything while the couple is served and are eating.

Should I Feed My Photographer?

The answer is entirely up to you; you don’t have too. However, many couples do be it a full sit-down meal at their table or make sure a meal is provided away from everyone else. Your photographer could be working the whole day, so while everyone maybe snacking, drinking and having lunch and dinner, your photographer would be capturing this all. But when would they step aside and go and get some food?

If your photographer will only be there for the ceremony and reception, then food probably isn’t needed; however, if they are there for the whole day, from first thing in the morning right through until the night, then that is a very long day and a long time to go without any substantial food.

“Our photographer ate the same meals we did; he also sat at our table while he ate. I’m not sure why I would have fed him something “lesser.” He sat with us and got some great pics in between bites and then got up and moved around, getting more pics of the dinner in progress.”

You may have spoken to your wedding photographer a lot before the big day and built up a bond and connection with your photographer. However, they are there as a professional to do a job you may wish to treat them as a guest, making them and your guests more relaxed around each other, making more natural and fun photos.

Some couples like to have the photographer join them at their table for dinner, allowing them to grab a few shots and then move around the other tables to get additional photos.

On the other hand, the photographer may wish to break away from it all for a moment where they can take a breather and have some food. They may also prefer this as they may not choose to sit with guests as they may find this awkward as they don’t know anyone and would like some quiet time briefly.

The photographer will have been on the go working harder and longer than anyone else, from being there first thing in the morning capturing photos of the bride getting ready right through the whole day to the ceremony, reception, cutting the cake, right through to the first dance, making sure they are always capturing those moments that others would miss.

Depending on the location and shots, they may be carrying heavy equipment around the grounds of a stately home or remote barn to get that beautiful bride and groom shots with a stunning backdrop. It can be a long and tiring day, and however, feeding your photographer is not only a nice thing to do; you could also say it will help you get back much more in return.

It is a good idea to discuss this with your photographer and give them the option; they may love to join everyone for dinner or prefer to sit in their car with their pre-prepared sandwiches, so find out what works best for them. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

Why You Should Feed Your Wedding Photographer At A Wedding

Do photographers eat at weddings?

Your wedding photographer(s) are going to be with you for most of the day. Of all your suppliers. They are likely to be with you the most. It’s a long day, and of course, they are only human.

Sitting down and enjoying a nice meal will help them get their energy back, which means they are better refreshed to carry on taking the best wedding photos they can. After all, nobody works well with a rumbling tummy!

Many venues are exclusive. Meaning there is no place on-site for your photographer to get their meal. Even if they wanted to, which means if you do not provide them with food, they will have to leave your wedding for some time. And if something happens during the time, they’re off-site. No-one will be around to photograph it.

This has happened. More than once, I have been sat in the bar area and heard a HUGE cheer with ensuing laughter. Experience has taught me that I should grab my camera and see what’s going on. Sometimes a guest has arranged a surprise for the bride and groom.

Some places even refuse to allow vendors to bring their food. So your photographer might not even be able to tuck into a homemade sandwich!

Quite often, during the wedding breakfast when everyone is eating. Your photographer isn’t taking a break. It’s an excellent time for us to change batteries, backup the images. Review what we have and check if we’ve missed any shots you wanted.

Naturally, you will be excited to share your images on social media. So most weddings, I will start editing a few preview photos so you can get them the very next day! You don’t want to wait for weeks for your photos. Trust me. Those weeks will seem like months!

Don’t Worry If You Can’t Feed Them, Though!

Wedding photography is an expensive part of your wedding budget. Chances are you’ve gone over your original wedding budget by a significant amount. And now, to feed your photographer(s) and possibly videographer(s) will add even more cost on top of a runaway budget!

Your wedding photographer is a supplier. And above all, an adult. Very few of us get free lunches at work. If I hire a builder, I am not expected to pay for his lunch.

The counter-argument to whether or not you provide food at your wedding for your photographer is that they should make their arrangements as a supplier and an adult. So don’t worry too much if you’ve gone way over budget with your wedding plans. Or if your venue doesn’t do supplier meals, which means the cost racks up.

In which case, make sure your wedding photographer is aware that he/she needs to make their arrangements. Choosing the right wedding photographer in Melbourne to capture every moment on your wedding day.

Where Should The Wedding Photographer Sit During The Meal?

This is also a common dilemma. Where should your wedding photographer sit during the wedding breakfast? Do you put them with the guests? Since they may not know anyone else. Or should you arrange a seat for them in the bar? But you don’t want them to feel unappreciated.

I think it’s safe to say that, in general, wedding photographers prefer to sit in a particular place and not with the guests. Of course, it is very kind of you to offer them a home. However, as mentioned above. We’re often not truly taking a break but doing other activities. I’ve usually got my laptop open editing previews for you. Something I can’t do if I am sitting with guests.

Plus, being honest, there’s only so many times I can answer the question, “So…how long have you been a wedding photographer?” And “I bet your camera was expensive,….” haha!

Sitting on our own gives us a little time to truly unwind if we want to and spread out if we need to. It also means we can have a good walk around and plan the photos for the next part of the day.

That said. Suppose your wedding speeches are planned to happen after the food is served. I would always recommend making sure you do not start the lessons until you see your wedding photographer is ready. I know that seems obvious, and whilst it’s never happened to me personally. I have heard horror stories where the speeches started, and the photographer missed it since they were in another part of the building.

Do You Pay For Photographer’s Meals At A Wedding?

Suppose you are arranging food, then yes. However, be sure to ask your venue if they do a ‘supplier’s meal’. Usually, this is a discounted rate for the main course. Sometimes dessert too!

If your wedding venue has a separate bar area (e.g. a hotel), then another good idea is to ask your coordinator if you can leave some money for the photographer to buy their meal (i.e. a tab). That way, you don’t need to worry about if they have particular dietary requirements.

“It’s In My Contract That I Need To Provide A Hot Meal”

This is something I hear quite a lot from people online discussing this topic. Especially from wedding photographer’s who say, “Oh. I have it in my contract that my couples have to feed me.” I admit it has become a subject that annoys me. Let me explain why.

Contracts are legal documents that set out what is expected on both sides. If terms are not fulfilled, then you are in breach of contract.

Let’s say you’re a busy bride or groom. You signed the contract 18 months ago and forgot about the section in your agreement where you agreed to provide a hot meal to your photographer. He/she is sitting down, waiting for their meal, and it doesn’t arrive. Are you expecting to be sued? After all, you’ve breached your contract. Technically your photographer could do so.

Of course, in reality, it is ridiculous, and they never would sue you. At worst, they’d have a good moan about it on Facebook. So why make this a contractual obligation? It makes no sense!?! The only conclusion I can make is that they are too afraid to ask you if arrangements have been made or not.

Plus, I am usually fiercely nodding my head when I read the replies from couples. Which is they would have organised food as a matter of course anyway. But they don’t want to feel like they HAVE to. Does that make sense? Obligation senses that they object to more than the meal itself. Looking for a Yarra Valley wedding photographer? Look no further! Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

If In Doubt, Discuss It With Your Photographer

Do photographers eat at weddings?

If you aren’t sure what your photographer wants, then my advice is to ask them. Or tell them you can’t feed them, and they will have to make their arrangements. Sometimes your photographer might prefer to go elsewhere or have dietary requirements that mean they will need their food anyway.

I always ask during the pre-wedding meeting if food has been arranged or not. After all, eating is a normal part of everybody’s day! Why should it be an awkward subject? It’s just housekeeping in the same way I need to know what time the ceremony is.

Three-course meal with champagne, please! Just kidding! In all seriousness, if you are one of my couples reading this. Then don’t worry. Whatever you decide is cool with me.

I wouldn’t say no to a nice hot meal but at the same time if you prefer for me to make my arrangements, then I will be happy to do that too. I need to know before the date of your wedding so I can organise it. Rest assured, no matter what you decide. You will always get the same professional service regardless.

Why aren’t you shooting anything while they’re eating? 

No one wants to be photographed while eating, especially when they’re visiting and sharing a meal with family and friends. The entire goal of my work as a wedding photographer is to make people feel comfortable. I want even the guests to remember me positively and feel like I took care of them.

If I’m wandering the space with my camera, capturing people during this time will make them feel uncomfortable and reflect negatively on me. Plus, this is not a time to shoot images that the couple will cherish for generations. The reception space details must be captured before anyone enters the room, so aside from taking candids of people, there is nothing for me to be shooting during this time. Therefore I have two choices – stand around and waste my couple’s investment with me or eat. 

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Why not step away during dancing? 

I could. I absolutely could. But like I mentioned above, I cannot be shooting while people are eating, so if I’m not eating, I will be standing around. I don’t think it’s respectful to my couples to waste their investment of time with me. If there is dancing happening, I’d like to be shooting it! 

Why couldn’t you eat with the rest of the guests? 

The married couple is always served first, and no matter how hungry they are, 9/10 times they eat a little bit and then are up to mingle with their guests. This is a time where they go table to table and chat, take selfies with their friends and spend time with the people who have come to celebrate them. During this mingling, I try to shadow the couple because it’s widespread that they look to me to capture a quick, impromptu snap of them with a guest. It reflects positively on me to be there at that moment, plus it’s always something that my clients want. Their questionnaires always list “photos of us with our guests” as priorities. 

But What Do You Do If Your Caterer Says No? 

  • Kindly explain that you understand that this is outside of the norm for them. Be considerate… 
  • …but be firm. Let your caterer know that it’s essential that your photographer does not miss any moments and the only time that this is possible is while you are eating. 
  • Ask what you, as the Client, can do to ensure that your photography team will be fed after you and before the guests. Let them know that you expect this request to be accommodated and appreciate the caterer going out of their way. 
  • Explain that the photography team does not need any service or special attention, just a plate and silverware. They will eat out of sight and quickly. 
  • If you need to, share your photographer’s contract clause with the caterer. If your contract includes language covering this request: The photographers need to be given this meal simultaneously; the Client eats so that the photographers can cover all the events as they happen. 
  • If the meal is a buffet, it needs to go through the buffet line after the Client and their immediate families. 
  • If you are still receiving pushback from your caterer, reach out to your photographer. 

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has helped answer the question of if you should feed your wedding photographer or not. Everyone has to eat, and your photographer will be around for ten hours, perhaps more. So at some point, they will need a rest and some food. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography. And whilst many feel it is a common courtesy to provide your photographer with a meal. At the same time, you should not feel obliged to.