They'll be working on your wedding all day, so it's no question that your vendors will need (and will deserve!) a good meal to keep them going until your last guest heads home. But what, exactly should you feed them? Here's what our experts have to say.
From your planner and photographer to the videographer and DJ, making sure your vendors are well-fed will not only show your appreciation for their hard work, but it will also give them the fuel they need to finish out the night as strongly as they started. As far as what you should provide for them to eat, it varies from vendor to vendor and can depend on what your venue offers, and is often outlined in a vendor's contract.
If you have the option, offer your vendors a hot meal. Talk to your caterer about what they can provide—and what it will cost. It might be roasted chicken, veggies, and rice or mashed potatoes, or it could be the same meal you're serving to your guests. Caterers will usually have a number of additional entree plates available in case a guest changes their mind about their meal selection, and that broiled salmon or grilled steak can be served to your vendors instead. Let your caterer know how many vendor meals you will need to provide as you're negotiating your budget and finalizing the headcount.
If offering a hot meal isn't something you can do, either because of restrictions on the venue or the type of reception you're serving, a hearty boxed lunch-style meal is a good option. A filling sandwich or salad, along with a side or two, will give your vendors the energy they need.
Bands, in particular, tend to have more specific meal requirements in their riders (think hot water for tea, bottled water to bring on stage, food that is available before the reception begins so they're ready to go on stage, and possibly a clause about being allowed to drink during their performance). But they can also be more flexible—some may require a hot meal or something lighter like a salad, while others would be fine with pizza.
Do your best to ensure that vendors will be fed while you and your guests are also having dinner. The band or DJ will probably have a playlist of background music that will play through the meal, and your photographer will definitely be able to step out for 15 or 20 minutes to enjoy their meal—no one wants their picture taken with their mouth full! This way no one will miss any important moments later in the evening, and they'll have a little time to actually sit down instead of rushing around between bites.
The most important thing to do is read over your vendors' contracts, and check with them directly if their meal needs aren't specified. Figure out if anyone has allergies or dietary restrictions (though these vendors are usually good about being up-front about any needs they might have). And if you think of it, ask your caterer to set aside a few pieces of wedding cake: wedding pros love late-night snacks just as much as your guests!