Without key vendors, your wedding day won’t happen. They’re crucial to making the day a success, from delivering rented furniture to snapping those incredible wedding photos to decorating your cake. When it comes to working with wedding professionals, there are a few essential things every couple should know, including how to tip your vendors appropriately and which vendors you should plan to feed—the last thing you need on your wedding day is a low-energy DJ or a photographer who misses your first dance because she’s in the back grabbing a snack from her bag! Check out our extensive list of Wedding Photographers in Melbourne to help capture your special moments.
These guidelines will help to ensure your wedding day goes off without a hitch.
Which Vendors Do We Have to Feed?
Ensuring your vendors are appropriately fed is incredibly important—and might even be specified in their contract. You will need to provide your wedding planner, photographer, videographer and band or DJ/emcee, plus their assistants. (On the other hand, you won’t need to feed your baker, florist, or anyone working only at the ceremony). Talk to your caterer about what they offer for vendor meals—most have a set list of options, whether it’s a “chef’s choice” or the same main course your guests will be eating. Sometimes it’s included in your catering fee, while other times it’s a lower set price, depending on what’s offered.
When you’re confirming your final wedding guest count, be sure to give your caterer the last count for vendor meals, too—and remember to include any allergies or special diets your vendors might have.
When Should Our Vendors Eat and Take Breaks?
Timing is everything. When it comes to your wedding planner, photographer and videographer, plan to have them eat while dinner is being served at the reception—that way, they won’t miss anything significant. While you won’t schedule specific breaks for these vendors, expect them to be “on” until the dancing is underway, at which point they may sneak into the back to sit down, have some water and perhaps even a slice of cake.
Your wedding band or DJ/emcee is another story. Ideally, they should be fed during cocktail hour—so before your guests are seated for dinner. This will ensure that they’re ready to go as soon as it’s time to announce the bridal party’s entrance, the newlyweds and set the mood for the reception’s festivities. Depending on how long they’re contractually scheduled to entertain, the band will likely play in sets, with small breaks in between; the wedding toasts also offer an opportunity to take a discrete break.
Should We Tip Our Vendors?
In one word: Yes! If you loved their services, definitely tip your vendors—and their assistants or staff. Just make sure you check their contracts first, as some vendors will include gratuity in their total fee, in which case a separate tip isn’t necessary. If your photographer, videographer, baker, florist or wedding planner own their business, providing the information is not required—although you should tip their assistant(s) anywhere from $50-$150 per person.
And of course, you can tip the company owner as well, if you’d like.
Some Vendor Tipping Guidelines
Catering and Waitstaff:
The gratuity or service fee is often included in the bill; if it’s not, aim for $10-$20 per person. And don’t forget the banquet manager! If they aren’t also serving as your wedding coordinator, a tip of $250 or more is a kind gesture for their services.
If a bartending service fee is not included in the catering bill, tip 10-15 per cent of the pre-tax account to be split between them.
Hair and Makeup Stylists:
Just as in a salon, you should tip your stylists 15-20 per cent for their services.
For both ceremony and reception musicians, check the contract for gratuity. If it isn’t included, plan to tip between $25-$50 per person.
Wedding Day Transportation:
If you’ve arranged for transportation services, most likely the company has included gratuity on their invoice, but if not, tip 15-20 per cent of the pre-tax bill.
What Should We Do If We’re Unhappy With Something?
After spending so much on your wedding day, the thought of not loving your services is a tough pill to swallow. If you don’t love what you see as samples or during a trial, speak up! Ask to see different types of flowers, try another cake and frosting combination, or make changes to your hairstyle or makeup during the pre-wedding trial run. Don’t be afraid to ask to consult with the company owner if you’re working with a particularly challenging employee. They should know if one of their employees is leaving you, the customer, unsatisfied with their services.
If your wedding day rolls around and things don’t go the way you thought they should have, first check your contract and then say something to the vendor. If they billed you for huge, flowing floral centrepieces and you got bud vases, you should be reimbursed. And if someone was unprofessional or didn’t show up at all, you have recourse. Schedule a meeting and bring along photos of the event if they’re relevant. Know your rights and where you stand, and be prepared to negotiate.
Where Your Photographer Sits During Dinner & How it Impacts Your Wedding Photographs
There is a growing trend in the wedding world where brides & grooms are interested in a candid, photojournalistic approach to documenting their day. Although there aren’t any posed photographs to be taken during the reception, it is an excellent opportunity for perfect candid moments to be captured; the mother of the bride surprising the bride with a chat and hug between courses, the flower girl asleep under one of the tables, grandma crying during the speeches & impromptu dance parties. These would all be beautiful, moving moments to capture if the photographer is there to catch them. Below are a few tips for brides & grooms planning their wedding:
Have Your Photographer Sit in the Same Room as Your Guests
Sometimes reception venues will set up vendors in a separate room from the rest of the wedding guests. This may work great for some vendors, but for a photographer, it isn’t ideal. Frequently, photographers find themselves quickly heading to the neighbouring room to have a few quick bites before running back to the room, sauce on their chin and food in their teeth; praying that they didn’t miss something important, all while hoping that my dinner will still be there when they return later. Looking for the best Wedding Photographer in Melbourne? Check out our ultimate list here.
While at times it may be great to have a quiet moment to themselves, there are three problems with sitting your photographer in another room:
- Vendors often get their food after all the guests have received theirs. By the time the food comes out for vendors, another speech has begun, and this leaves them with about 30 seconds to eat as much as they possibly can before having to run out to photograph the next portion of the reception. When they get a chance to return to our food, it’s either cold, or the table has been cleared, and they are on 6+ hours without having eaten anything.
- When there is a bit of lag time, and guests are conversing, they are usually standing because they don’t have a table or seat to sit in. They’ll try their best to crouch down, hide behind things and make themselves invisible, but it isn’t ideal, not to mention, standing for long periods isn’t fun.
- Placing your photographer in a separate room and removing them from the action over dinner means you’ll miss out on some beautiful, in-between and organic moments throughout portions of your reception.
If Possible, Consider Where the Vendor Table Will Be Placed.
The best receptions for photographing are always those where photographers are at a seat within close range of the immediate family and the bride and groom. This way, they can still grab shots from my heart and don’t have to go far to capture other guests and family. It can be intimidating for family members when they notice them crouched down 5 feet away from them and pointing my camera in their direction. If they are sitting at a table within close range, they are less noticeable. With slightly longer lenses, they can get incredible detail and close up shots of the head table without moving and potentially getting in the way of guests trying to enjoy speeches.
Where Does the Wedding Photographer Sit During Dinner?
There certainly seem to be many brides and grooms who want to know where their wedding photographer should sit during dinner. Although there are about a bazillion blogs out there addresses the issue of whether or not a photographer is to be fed at a wedding (hint: if you want a happy photographer, at least give them a nibble or two!) but there are few, if any, asking questions about where the wedding photographer sits during dinner.
Although there are no posed photos taken during dinner, it’s a fantastic time for candid photos. Although it’s common for people to wonder what a wedding photographer does during dinner, the answer is quite simple: we watch. We are there, watching the day unfold and following all the stories going on in that room. Candid photos are a great addition to your repertoire of wedding day memories because they help personalize the day and create uniqueness to your story. Most brides and grooms often split their courses with speeches; some have their guests playing “kissing games” throughout dinner, and, best of all, there’s so many fun and unpredictable moments that can arise, too! All of these are instances where perfect candid moments can be captured—that is if your photographer is around to do so.
What’s a Vendor Table?
While not all brides and grooms want to sit their vendors at the same table as their guests, it was once common for vendors to have a “vendor table” located somewhere in the reception room. The vendor table is typically in the far most corner, leaving the “prime spots” for the guests. This was great—the vendors could keep an eye on what they were doing, hop up at a moment’s notice and race into action to capture the spontaneity of reception and then turn around and scarf down a few more bites of food before getting back to work again. It was a great system.
A New Trend?
Now, however, the game seems to be changing. It’s becoming a trend for venues to suggest to their brides that the photographer/videographer/DJ, etc., can eat at a vendor table located in a separate room from the rest of the wedding. While I can’t speak for how this affects videographers and DJs, I can undoubtedly say that it has a significant impact on photography! Having to remove me from the action to grab a few bites to eat all while hoping that I race back in on time and haven’t missed anything is more stressful than you can imagine. (Also, working 10 to 14+ hours straight without eating anything is also stressful, so ‘avoiding eating’ is not an option!) I don’t know where this trend started, but it has to stop!
Here’s the Scoop:
If you have vendors who need to be performing duties throughout the reception, they should not be removed and put into a separate room for dinner. A vendor table should be arranged for and placed in the same room where all the action is. Removing your photographer from the story and putting them in another room over dinner means you won’t be getting photos of a lot of the incredible and random moments of a massive portion of your reception.
If you have to put your photographer in another room during dinner (for example, if the main room is already at max capacity), then please ensure that your caterer/venue knows to serve the photographer (who quietly hidden away in another room) at the same time as they are doing the bride and groom. Vendors are typically the last to be served, which means that when the bride and groom are finished eating and walking around, the photographer is just sitting down for a quick bite. Although having your photographer in a separate room is not ideal, keeping the photographer on the same schedule as the bride and groom will help your photographer be around for more of those special moments.
As the cost of your wedding escalates, it will be tempting to cut a few corners here and there. There are, however, a few moments when spending a little extra can prove beneficial. You don’t have to feed all of your wedding vendors, but ideally, you really should offer your photographer something to eat.
Your photographer has a long day; he or she may have to travel a long distance to get to your venue, and then will be incredibly busy all day taking images of everything, from the preparations and ceremony to the official portraits, your first dance, reception, and everything in between.
Do I Need to Feed My Wedding Photographer?
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should seat your photographer with your guests for the evening meal; in fact, that may prove awkward for everyone involved. But you should make some suitable arrangements well ahead of the big day.
Ask for Vendor Rates.
Some venues will offer you a discount (or complimentary) meal for critical vendors, such as the photographer, videographer, florist and band. The most popular platforms will be dealing with vendors on a near-daily basis to advise you on the usual expectations. Many venues will offer the use of a smaller room or a public dining room where vendors can dine away from the wedding party.
Read the Contract
Check your photographer’s contract before the big day; it is not unusual to find some food provision in the small print. Your photographer may expect a sit-down dinner with the other guests during the reception, and you don’t want to have an awkward situation on your hands when they can’t find their name on the seating plan.
Don’t Forget the Assistant.
Many photographers will suggest that you hire a ‘second shooter’ who accompanies them and catches those unplanned moments. In the absence of a second photographer, they may opt to bring an assistant or trainee to maximize the quantity (and variety) of shots. In the week before the wedding, check in with your photographer and ask if they are bringing anyone else along. That will give you enough time to update the seating plan or alert the venue.
Coordinate the Canapés
If you have arranged to have canapés or snacks served throughout the reception, make sure the caterers know to offer them to your photographer and other vendors as well. Hungry photographers = blurry photos.
Could You Not Feed Them?
Of course, if it’s not stated as a condition of their contract, you reserve the right not to offer your photographer a meal at your wedding. If you opt not to provide them with food, give them plenty of prior warning so that they can bring their refreshments. Looking for a wedding photographer in Melbourne? Look no further. Brighton Savoy has compiled an ultimate list of Melbourne wedding photographers to help you choose.