A plea/suggestion for Brides, coordinators, caterers and venues, from hungry wedding photographers everywhere.
Please feed us as soon as the bride and groom have been served, and BEFORE the guests. Please make this the industry standard.
Why? The technical reason is easy: so we can be done eating and back on our feet, ready to photograph the bride and groom as soon as they’re done eating. There’s no genuine reason to make the photographers wait until everyone else has been served, but there are good reasons not to.
You should know, if you feed us last, we often don’t get to eat, or eat very little. There is not much more frustrating than waiting for every guest to get their food and then being handed a plate of jumbled leftovers. We finally get to sit down and eat, and then BAM! Five minutes in, the Bride or coordinator runs over and says “Oh, we need you to photograph such and such!”…and of course, because we’re great at what we do, we say, “NO PROBLEM!”, leave our food to die a lonely death on the table, likely to never be eaten again, and rush out to keep capturing those amazing photos for you.
That’s a solid enough reason on its own. But the real reason you should feed us first?
Because we’re highly-experienced, talented, professional ARTISTS. An artist that you spent hours, days or even weeks deciding on, and you’re paying us thousands of dollars to create one-of-a-kind art for you – images of your once-in-a-lifetime event that can never be created again, EVER. By dinner time, we’re hours and hours into a day that still has hours and hours to go. You should want us fed well and early, so we have the energy and heart to keep giving you everything, instead of rushing around with a rumbling tummy, a mild headache and a distracting urge to consume every cupcake on your desert table.
And no, please don’t let the caterer give us a “vendor meal” – I hate to keep harping on it, but we’re not vendors, we’re artists hired to create art. We’re up at 6am prepping. We’re at your wedding at 10am and for the next eight to twelve hours, we’re carrying 10 lbs of gear…all day long. Down on our knees then back up again…all day long. Fully engaged with you and your guests with our best personality forward…all day long. Do you know how draining it is physically and mentally to be constantly “on”? Constantly alert and on the search for great moments and people to capture, all while chatting with your guests and answering questions, and helping your timeline stay on track? And to make matters worse, we do all of that often with few or no breaks at all.
“But all the vendors get the same thing!” While we love our compatriots in the industry, we are not the same beasts. Everyone works super hard to make your day amazing and we will go toe-to-toe for them just like this, but few other vendors have the same requirements or schedules as we do, or have to be on their feet for as long as we do (and we do it all while working in a *creative* capacity!). On your big day, the florists are busy at the start but are gone home relatively quickly, the caterer starts much later and gets to be behind the scenes, the DJ only plays for a few hours, but us? We’re there from start to finish, and we’re on our feet, in motion for almost all of the day – and we have to be at the top of our game the entire time…
…and you want us to eat whatever is left over after the rest of your wedding has eaten? Or worse, a sandwich, an apple and a water in a to-go box from the kitchen, and then relegated to a back room or even outside?
Brides & grooms, we ADORE you. We love our job and we do what we do to earn good money helping you have amazing memories for the rest of your lives. But we need you to feel the same way as us – like you believe in us enough to stick a plate in our face filled with the same gorgeous food your guests will get, but early on, so we can take the proper amount of time to actually sit down, relax a little and enjoy that amazing food, without the constant fear that we’ll be interrupted five minutes in to photograph a toast or an uncle or a group of people with full bellies.
P.S. – I write this into my contract already – this is for all my fellow photographers who have suffered the same fate but haven’t figured out how to avoid it yet. And if you’re the kind of photographer who can go non-stop for 12 hours without eating a full meal, then more power to you! But that’s not a lot of us, lol.
P.P.S. – Happy to send anyone the meals verbiage I use in my contract, for free – just message me. It may not be appropriate for your specific circumstances, though, so please have it looked at by an actual attorney before using it.