Should you feed your wedding photographer?

While the choice ultimately rests with you, I’m here to give you a wedding photographer’s perspective, and hopefully convince you that it’s worth it to spend a little extra for a plate of food for your photographer – not only will they love you for it, but eating a great meal on what is often a long, physically arduous and mentally draining day will help them have the energy they need to go all out for you and your guests.

A few years ago, a woman wrote an article stating that the only vendors that should be fed at a wedding were the planners. What type of vendor do you think she was? You guessed it, she was a planner, lol.

There are definitely some people out there who think that photographers don’t need to be fed at a wedding, but almost without fail, those people are not wedding photographers themselves. They often don’t even have any direct experience with what it takes to photograph a wedding, and definitely not a wedding with 200+ guests that starts in the morning and ends at night. Yes, you should feed your wedding photographer. And not only should you feed us, but you should feed us before you feed the guests.

The “why” is easy: Feed us because we’re highly-experienced, talented, professional artists that you spent hours, days or even weeks deciding on. An artist that you’re paying 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. Do you have friends or family that have gotten married? When’s the last time you heard them reminiscing wistfully about the floral centerpieces? Or sitting together with their arms around each other talking about the music the DJ played? Or waxing poetic about the mashed potatoes and garlic gravy? Exactly, never.

But I bet you know people who still have their wedding photos up on their walls three decades later. Or who share a photo (or ten!) from their wedding on social media every few years. Or who say “Remember when Aunt Tessie made those funny faces at our reception? She had us rolling in laughter! I know the photographer took a shot of that, let’s find that photo!”

We’re capturing tiny little moments from your life that will outlive your wedding day by decades, maybe even hundreds of years. Moments that can be cherished not just by you, but by your family, your children, your descendants, for generations to come. You don’t want us to go hungry on your wedding day, right?

Feed us well and early, so we have all the energy we need so we don’t have to rush around with a rumbling tummy, a mild headache and a distracting urge to consume every cupcake on your dessert table. Remember: by dinner time, we’re likely hours and hours into a physical day that still has hours and hours to go.

So what should you feed us? You could give us a “vendor meal”, but please don’t. Vendor meals are often unappealing afterthoughts – not much more than a sack lunch. An apple, a sad sandwich and a half bottle of water. It’s edible, for sure, but is that really what you want the artist you’ve paid thousands of dollars to eat? Feed us the same thing your guests will eat. We’re up at 5am prepping. We’re at your wedding at 10am and for the next eight to twelve, maybe even 15 hours, we’re on our feet carrying 10 lbs or more of gear. We’re constantly standing, crouching, kneeling, over and over. And the whole time we’re doing the physical requirements of our job, we’re also fully engaged with you and your guests, putting our best personality forward…for the entire day. Do you see the challenge? Unlike any of your other vendors, we’re the only vendor who engages with you or your guests throughout the entire event. It can be physically and mentally draining to be “on” all the time, especially while being creative and in near-constant motion. Eyes on a swivel, perpetually searching for great moments and people to capture, all while chatting with your guests and answering questions, and often with few or no breaks at all.

And why feed us before your guests eat? Also an easy answer. 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 definitely good reasons not to, not the least of which is that if you feed us last, we often don’t get to eat at all, or eat very little, shoving food into our mouths as quickly as we can, so we can rush back out to shoot. There’s not much more frustrating than waiting for 200 guests to get their food and then being handed a plate of jumbled leftovers almost as an afterthought. 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!”, and rush back out to shoot again, leaving our food to die a lonely death on the table, likely to never be eaten again.

Couples, we ADORE you. We love our job and we earn decent money doing it – we just want to feel like you feel the same way about us – we need to feel like you value us and the service we’re providing enough to hand us a plate overflowing with the same gorgeous food your guests receive, and that you’ll give it to us before you release the guests to eat so we can take the proper amount of time to actually sit down, relax a little and enjoy that amazing food without the constant worry that we’ll be interrupted five minutes in to photograph a toast or an uncle or a group of guests who already have full bellies.

I’ll end with this: whether you feed us an amazing meal, a bag of chips and a water, or you don’t feed us at all, we’re going to do our very best for you! But if you do feed us? Just know that it will be fully appreciated, you’ll be doing the right thing, and we’ll think you’re a champion because of it.