Are you supposed to feed your vendors?

Photo: Courtesy of Kolodny Photography

As an Orlando based event planner, we are always readily available to answer proper etiquette questions for our clients and our vendors. To our amazement, this is one question we will typically address at least once per year: Should you feed your vendor team? Yes & No...

Typically a vendor that requires a vendor meal will include it in their contract. Be very mindful of that as you sign your contract with your vendors. Ask the question if you are uncertain.

Here are the Do's & Don'ts:
  1. DO provide a vendor meal for your vendors that will work four (4) hours or more. I will go one step further and say if possible, make it a hot meal or a meal that has substance. It should hopefully include items that will rehydrate and energize the vendor.

  2. DO realize that the vendor has been running around, they can't leave your venue for an hour vendor break, they are trying to make sure they capture key moments in your day or keep your guests entertained. They can't run up the street to McDonald's to grab a value meal.

  3. DON'T forget to take into consideration what is the best time for your vendors to take a break. Your photographer/videographer will typically take a dinner break once dinner has started. If you have a band, they will have band breaks and more than likely require a vendor meal. Your DJ will more than likely play your dinner music selections during that time and may be able to take a short break. Your guests will also appreciate not having pictures taken of them while they are eating.

  4. DO try to give your vendors at least 20 to 30 minutes to take a break.

  5. DO try to have your vendors dinner served in a room outside of but near your reception room. We typically try to have one of our coordinating staff remain in the room just in case we do need to move forward with the program.

  6. DO realize that this is an extra expense to your budget and should be a part of the budget. Most venues provide a vendor meal at 50% of the cost of your regular meal. Many venues will offer some other alternatives that are less costly. Take the time to speak with your caterer or venue about these options.

  7. DO understand if you are serving a buffet meal, having your vendors eat from the buffet is an option, but it is not the best option. Why? Well they would have to wait until all of your guests are served and typically by the end of dinner service, it is time to move forward with your reception itinerary. This is where you would definitely want to look at a boxed lunch or alternative meal for your vendors.

Vendors that typically get a vendor meal: DJ, Videography Team, Photography Team, Lighting Technician that will stay on site the entire time, Coordination Team and the band. The question to ask is will they work more than 4 hours during your ceremony and/or reception. Typically they are the vendors that can't leave once your event has begun.

Vendors that should not require a meal: Transportation/Limo drivers, Officiant (unless they are a guest), Florists, Ceremony musicians, musicians playing for cocktail hour only or any vendor that will not need to be on site during the actual event time for more than 4 hours.

Your event planner/coordinator can definitely give you some great suggestions into planning your vendor meals for your special event. I invite our vendors to share their thoughts and insight on vendor meals.

Until next time,


This post was inspired by a great conversation with some of the best wedding professionals in SW Florida, Leila Khalil and Elisa Delgardio during the We Wed Brunch!


Great post, Kerline! And great tips. I get this question all the time!
Kerline Docteur said…
Here are a few additional comments from a few of my colleagues that responded via facebook:

BigCity Catering at 11:32am June 27
We completely agree with everything Kerline said. At Big City, we know how important it is to keep our friends & vendors that we work with fueled with energy and ALWAYS make sure that they get fed!

Marcia Mauskopf at 11:32am June 27
Great info as always Kerline! Am sharing it with my friend list and hope it makes it's way thoughout Facebook and beyond. Thanks for taking the time to share.

Maisa Kingstone at 11:43am June 27
I like it! Can you post it on the Heaven page?

Allan Saltman at 12:18pm June 27
Thanks for sharing this info with the community. I have always said, "Photographers focus better with fuel in their system." We aren't asking for Surf 'n Turf, the consideration of a break with food on her important day is appreciated when we are working for a continuous 10-12 hours.

Wendy Goelz Kopasz at 3:27pm June 27
Good advice...unfortunately many times the vendors are fed last and by then its time for cake cutting and parent dances.

Rosie Moore at 10:32pm June 27
When I coordinate I make sure that all the vendors are fed early right when guests are eating. I do watch out for thsoe working because they have been there all day!

Rick Page at 11:15am June 28
Back when one of the bands I worked with played about 15 wedding receptions per year we would have voted, YES . . . but then should the vendors get a vote?

Elisa Csep at 11:25am June 28
Great post Kerline! Wasn't it interesting to hear how many vendors actually leave with a negative impression of the venue/caterer if they are not fed?? Lots to think about!

Kat Small at 2:17pm June 28
Thanks Kerline! As vendors our day usually starts hours before we are on active duty so a short break to eat is so important. Timing is everything and eating last never works as a videographer we have to get back to the action. I do have one question, how to handle a vegetarian request as a vendor? I would also would like your permission to post this to my blog.

Lisa Riley Kovach at 4:54pm June 28
Great post! I am definitely for feeding the vendors - full vendors are happy vendors and are willing to go the extra mile if they feel appreciated and aren't hungry!

Joe Runnels at 7:33am June 29
You get a box lunch and like it!

Sonya Lee Keller at 10:52am June 30
Great post! We had to address this at a recent wedding!
Kerline Docteur said…
To Answer Kat Small's question about a vendor that is Vegetarian/Vegan: Be sure to let the coordinator or the Bride know of your special dietary needs. If it can be accomodated the caterer/venue will already have it prepared for you.
Chuck Amstone said…
As a professional DJ, I would like to comment.

I find it very difficult to eat at a wedding. Here's why!

We are usually busy playing music and keeping a pulse on the room. I find it tacky and lazy for a DJ to put on some canned music for dinner. Dinner time is an oppurtunity for the entertainment to gather a feel for the crowd and be ready to jump in at a moments notice.
I find that if and when I'm offered a meal, it comes long after everyone else has been been served. Rather than be down the hall eating, I rather be ready to go and keep the party goin'.

Chuck Amstone

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