Here’s the deal.
I work (and have worked) every type of wedding imaginable.
Over 12 years of shooting spread across different cities, states, countries, and budgets makes it hard to surprise me.
I still get emotional over the beauty of love stories, and definitely have not become jaded to the weight of what a wedding day means to each family.
That being said, I want you to know that I have very strict rules for what type of venues and wedding vendors I endorse.
Even when it’s a destination wedding, I will do the research to help my couples choose other vendors who will be nothing but a blessing on their big day.
There are varying degrees of how involved a wedding vendor can be.
Hair and makeup team starts with the ladies early- they go for hours, then they are done about an hour or two before the wedding starts.
Florals is busy all morning loading arrangements and decorating the entire first half of the day *(not to mention the work that goes into the flowers before the day of) and then they are done before ceremony time.
Your baker is working tirelessly making your vision come to life, and the day of they have to worry about delivery- placement- cake toppers that are hopefully already there, and sometimes florals that are being added day of… then they leave.
Your officiant can show up just before the ceremony to perform and leave soon after.
Seeing the trend? So much work goes into the prep- but most of your vendors get to leave the venue.
When you document a wedding the way I do, my most popular package starts 2-3 hours before ceremony time, and I am there until you exit the premises.
Believe me when I say that by the time dinner rolls around- I am the hungriest person around.
Your guests may think they are hungry— but they have only had to drive over, sit, and then walk to their next seat 😉
Your DJ will be working all night- but they can do one of two (typical) things… set up before the ceremony if they are providing music for the processional, or set up before the reception if they are only playing the beats for the party.
There are a few vendors that NEED food during a wedding day.
We can bring all the protein bars HEB can provide, and still feel faint if we don’t get a break to sit during dinner.
Now you’re hopefully getting a grasp of the scene of a typical wedding day.
Your photographer(s), Videographer(s), DJ (if they are there longer than just the reception) and wedding planner NEED to be fed.
My contract even states that legally *(since every couple signs before I shoot) I am supposed to be fed a meal.
For the particular day I am going to reference, I had started around 1pm *(since I am always early in case of traffic, and to get a look at the area I’m shooting) at the hair and makeup spot that was over an hour away. So I left my house before noon and I had ate a meal before I left, thank goodness!
Then there was the drive out to the venue.. If I would have had ANY clue that this venue was going to be refusing me food, I would have made sure to take time to find food along the way.
The ceremony was not scheduled to start until 7pm, so I enjoyed getting the shots of details, rings, shoes, the place settings and the ceremony spot all before any guests started to arrive.
I was greeted by the venue owner immediately which is typically a great sign. I was given a tour and background as to how they choose their couples- which is great… I am selective of my couples that I take on as well.
From there things were interesting. The actual wedding party could NOT have been sweeter and helpful with every little aspect. It was a nighttime wedding, and one of the groomsmen even held a light for me to have portraits go faster.
When we wrapped on portraits and I had the bride and groom go inside I could smell the food and the couple even said to go enjoy and that they hoped I loved the collection of food!
It was buffet style which is very convenient for everyone *(especially me) and typically I hop right in with the wedding party.
This is not because I’m just some selfish person who needs to be first. *(not saying I’m not ever selfish, let’s be clear on that)
with all these years of wedding experience you know what I learned??
NO ONE likes a photo of themselves eating. Ever see a photo of yourself taking a big ole bite of your food?
Probably not flattering.
So I eat when I do for your own protection.
The average amount of wedding guests at a wedding I shoot is north of 200 guests.
If I wait until all 200 are served- they are usually starting toasts by then… and you know what you DO want a photo of?
Those memorable words towards the bride and groom with great laughing or crying reactions are some of my favorites during the night.
So again- I jump in, eat my food somewhere near the beginning- so I can be done in time to shoot the champaign being raised towards the happy couple as you cheers to their future.
This wedding was much smaller- which is perfect for that intimate setting. Less than 100 guests were in attendance. And this is a perfect venue for an intimate wedding.
I chose to wait until the last person got their plate of food then I went directly to the owner and asked where I could find my plate and utensils.
“Oh no sweetie, you’re not eating.”
“Okay did you need another water?”
“When everyone leaves you can-“
“Noo no… when the entire wedding is over then we eat.”
What. This wedding would not be done until ten pm. Remember I ate at noon.
I was desparate. I had already eaten my other protein bar during detail shots and between wedding party portraits. I knew I had one in my car.
I left to go to my car and to my SHOCK, the venue owners wife was already coming out to find me *(my car was parked in front, sixty seconds had not passed)…
“oh we were just looking for you!”
“___ (venue owner) wanted another photo of him talking to the guests.”
“well just come right back in and snap this, okay? It’s just a quick shot”
People. I am not there to shoot your moments if you are not the wedding couple, party or wedding family. I am HAPPY to document your venue, and guess what? I actually LOVE doing it! It makes me so happy to get emails and comments from venues so excited about the way I shot their venue.
Since I was eating my protein bar on the way back in to shoot a shot that the owner wanted.. a bridesmaid asked me how my meal was. I explained I wasn’t being allowed to eat even though the wedding couple had specifically verified that I would be fed.
She was so sweet- “okay, I am going to go fill my plate and bring it to the side room for you!” And off she went.
You guys, that’s what life is about to me.. just CARE about others. There is an abundance of food and plenty of time to eat it.
By the time she went back to her table they had already removed her plates.
:: sigh ::
Then a groomsmen asked the same thing- I think I looked as starving as I felt and the same scenario happened.
I had tears in my eyes at this point.
I know there are third world countries who know what it really means to be starving, but guys- I am not there- and I carry around over 50 pounds of gear all day and document everything I can possibly document while doing so.
Finally I stood back near the kitchen and the owner’s wife asked me: “is there anything I can get you sweetie”
“YES, food please, I need food”
“oh, I meant like water…”
“no thanks, I have drank so many waters, I need food” -y’all- I was embarrassed that I was starting to cry. You know that lump in your throat?? That was in full effect. I went on— “I know you guys have a shorter day- but I have been working all day and I need to eat”
Then my favorite part? The owner walking by me as he says “smiles are freeee!”
SMILES. ARE. FREE.
“ -_- “
All I am saying is be considerate of those around you. If you want to own a venue and run a wedding business, have some kindness in your heart to understand different scenarios.
At ten pm… after the couple had ran out of the house for their exit- I was offered a meal.
“No thank you- my hours ended at ten and I can’t stay out here longer since I actually have to make it back home”
There were other words said throughout the night that are not even appropriate to repeat, and I am happy to share those situations with the couples looking into venues in the area that are concerned.
I will be tagging and naming the venue after giving them a fair chance to read through this and explain their side– since they choose to sit IN the dining area in a guest’s seat talking to a guest’s wife longer than was wanted.
I will absolutely let them respond in any manner they choose and go from there. If they make sure to change their policy on vendors being able to eat during the wedding?
I will not tag them!
I am all about encouraging change.
This was the hardest blog I have ever written, and if you know me AT ALL you know I give everything I have to go above and beyond for every couple- no matter what is happening.
There have been guests that act inappropriately- guests that have actually sexually harassed me- and I have NEVER felt the need to blog about the bad experience. When too much alcohol is involved with guests I am perfectly equipped to handle myself and respond in a way that immediately stops the behavior.
This was just a scenario that I would not like to ever repeat and I am trying to be sure it does NOT happen to other hard working vendors.
I already have had to start interviewing my couples based on bad experiences with either a very rude groom or a bridezilla, I would hate to start needing to interview venues too!
Hope you all are having an AMAZING day- and thank you so much for following my journey along the way. Thank you for always being kind and supportive of my work.
If you’d like to leave me a review if I’ve shot your wedding? I would LOVE it!
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Until next time…
This is great advice for planning a wedding in Salado!
Thank you!! This is a blog post every couple should read! I love it!!!!
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As a fellow photographer, you nailed it! Every venue and wedding couple should know that vendors need to eat dinner when the wedding party is eating!
You are so right about all of this!! As a fellow photog, I couldn’t agree more! Hell yeah for Salado Wedding venue and Austin wedding photographers