Northern California Wedding Planner | Contract Talk - Vendor Meals

Oh if ever there has been a hot topic amongst wedding community boards and professional network groups, it would be these two words: Vendor Meal.


First and foremost, we ensure that our couples are reading their contracts when booking services and understand all terms and requirements that are listed in the contract language. 

We totally get it, who hasn't breezed through the 8 page terms and conditions when you get your shiny new iPhone or when you update an app.  It is easy to click the button stating you've read and agree to all terms.  However, when it comes to your wedding day and multiple event partners all working on the same event, there are a few contract issues that you specifically need to make notes of; such as office hours/communication clauses, liability, travel fees, cancellation terms, equipment/electrical requirements, turnaround/production times and vendor meals.  

Let us preface this with our philosophy: We believe in having great relationships with your team, and that your event partners should be eating dinner when you eat dinner. Specifically, they should be eating the same dinner that you are serving to your guests.  
  1. What's the big deal?  Let's use your photographer as an example: you have a photographer shooting with you on your wedding day for 6+ hours and as expected they aren't going to pack up and leave to go grab dinner and miss out on your toasts, first dance etc.  So when you and your wedding party are released to the buffet or are being served your plated meal, your photo and video team should be eating at this time as well. 
    Your event partners are working in a setting where they are likely traveling or working at venues that can often be remote, so if your event partners need to leave the premises for a meal, they are not liable for lapses in coverage or services during this time. 

    Just as in a corporate setting an employer would be required to provide lunch for a working-lunch time meeting or allow employees to leave for the lunch break.
  2. Our venue is full service and provides a "Vendor Meal" so we are covered right? Yes and no.  The stories that we've heard about these notorious "vendor meals" being a day old bagged lunch type situation is what prompted this post.  Most often, a contract might state that a hot meal would be provided so even if that means ordering a pizza for your event partners or asking that your venue/caterer provides an alternative hot meal like a chicken or pasta option instead of New York Steak for example.
  3. Do we need to provide dinner for all of our vendors/event partners? Short answer yes, but again read your agreements first.  Another logic to use is anyone hired for 4+ hours of service that will be present during dinner, or otherwise noted in their agreement.
  4. When should our vendors eat? When you and your wedding party are released to the buffet or are being served your plates, your photo and video team should be right behind you or provided a plate served by the caterer.  We are pretty confident that you aren't wanting photos of you taking bites of dinner, so this is the best time for your photo & video team to eat.  They should be seated at a table within the close enough to the reception area so they are able to see the event and any special moments that may arise.  Your DJ should also be getting in line in time to be done eating before any announcements need to be made. 
  5. Who pays for the cost of the meals for vendors/event partners? This cost is allocated to the couple/host paying for the catering.  You might be thinking, "well it's $80 per person, this is going to add up fast!" but discuss this with your venue or caterer to determine if there is a hot meal option at a reduced cost.  
  6. Should we provide place settings for the vendors as well?  We suggest having a table that is available for your event partners, but some may choose to eat in another area and take a quick break.  It's always a great idea to have extra place settings or some disposable flatware just in case.  

We are here to help couples work through questions like these to make sure that in the weeks leading up to your wedding we are discussing the details that pertain to your wedding and not going back and forth over contract terms and vendor meals.  If you aren't sure on what your event team needs, ask your wedding planner or reach out and ask them ahead of time.