Feeding the Photographer at a Wedding: Is It Expected?

You’re planning your wedding and you finally pick the venue. The florist is ordering those specialty flowers. Your honeymoon is booked. Now, your caterer is asking how many meals you will need. And you don’t know what to say. 

You have a guest count but you’re wondering, do you feed vendors at a wedding? More specifically, do you feed wedding photographers? 

You can stop Googling and scratching your head in bewilderment because this guide has everything you need to know about feeding photographers at weddings.

Keep scrolling to learn the dos and don’ts of vendor meals.

Table of Contents

do photographers count as wedding guests

Wedding Etiquette: Should You Feed the Photographer?

The short answer? In most cases, yes, you should feed your photographer. 

Your photographer will spend hours with you, capturing all of those beautiful moments and giving you memories that will last a lifetime. Typically, part of hiring a photographer is offering them a meal as a show of your appreciation.  

Feeding vendors is pretty standard for most weddings. Which vendors do you have to feed at your wedding? Here’s a short list:

  • Wedding planner (and their assistants!)
  • Musicians (and any band techs!)
  • Officiant
  • Photographers (and their assistants!) 
  • DJ

Unless your photographer is there for less than a couple of hours or they have explicitly requested otherwise, you should plan to feed them. 

But, this doesn’t mean that you need to feed them the same plate that your guests are receiving. In fact, most photographers don’t expect to eat the same meal as your guests. 

No need to panic, you have some options when it comes to what to feed your wedding photographer. 

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Feeding the Photographer at a Wedding: Options

As you search for the perfect venue and catering, you will likely notice one of two options when it relates to feeding the vendors. You may find that …

  1. The venue includes feeding vendors in their contract with you; 


  1. The venue offers discounted meals to vendors but does not contractually require the couple to feed their vendors. 

You may also find that your photographer prefers to provide their own meal. This is rare, but if they have tight dietary restrictions or preferences, they may prefer to bring their own food. You should, however, still provide them with a space and time to eat. 

However it works out, making sure the photographer has food is typically the responsibility of the bride and groom. 

7 Details to Keep in Mind When Feeding the Photographer at Your Wedding

#1: More Coverage#1: Communication With the Photographer

You’ve heard the expression “clarity is kindness”, and that rings true for the wedding planning world as well. Good communication with your wedding photographer is vital, and there are some questions you should consider asking

Here are some DOS and DON’TS for having a clear conversation on the topic:

  • DON’T ask IF they want you to feed them. Many photographers find that this feels insensitive, and it may even leave them not wanting to work with you. 
  • DON’T feel awkward having the conversation. This is a normal part of contract discussion and, for your photographer, this is just a part of the job. of as you plan their meal. 
  • DON’T assume that it doesn’t matter what you offer, as long as you offer something. 
  • DO look at their contract and see if it gives specific meal guidelines.
  • DO be as generous as you are able and make it clear to your photographer that, unless they have other preferences, you want to provide them with a meal. 
  • DO ask if they have any dietary needs or restrictions that you should be aware 
  • DO ask for clarification if there are any details about meals that you are not sure of. 

#2: Understand the Photographer’s Contract

As with any contract, you should be sure to read over your photographer’s contract thoroughly before signing it. They have created the contract to help take the guesswork and ambiguity out of the equation. 

You want your wedding day to be as uncomplicated as possible, and a careful reading of your photographer’s contract will help with this. 

Many photographers will include something in their contract regarding meals. Use this as a talking point to ask your questions and ensure you provide them with the appropriate culinary options. 

#3: Discussing Your Concerns With the Venue

Every venue has a slightly different policy, and it is your job to figure out what your venue does regarding vendor meals. 

Venue policies vary. Here are the most common ones:

  • The venue automatically feeds vendors and include them in the upfront cost that you pay
  • The venue does not provide meals for vendors unless specifically requested by the couple (this one is less common, especially at higher-end venues)
  • The venue will provide vendor meals for an additional cost
  • The venue provides vendor meals at a discounted cost
 do you feed vendors at a wedding

#4: The Type of Meal That Is Offered to the Photographer

Not every venue or catering company simply feeds the photographer the same meal as the guests. You should check with your caterer to find out what type of meal they offer to your photographers and other vendors. 

Once you find out what your caterer does and you make a decision, you should communicate this to your photographer so that they know what to expect. 

Some meal options typically offered to vendors include:

  • Feeding the photographer the same meal as your guests, often at a discounted price
  • Feeding photographers and other vendors leftovers from the main meal
  • Feeding photographers something else entirely such as a different, cheaper, meal

#5: Timing of the Photographer’s Meal

Another great topic to discuss with your photographer is when they expect to eat. This will be especially true if your photographer is alone at your wedding, without a second shooter

Some typical meal times for photographers include:

  • After the main events of the wedding, while guests are dancing
  • At the same time as the guests
  • At a lull in the event (typically when there are two shooters and one can cover for the other)

It is key to note that, if your photographer is with you for a very long time — such as 12,16, or even 20 hours — they may need more than one break and more than one meal. 

Discussing all of these things with your photographer will help ensure that your day goes off without any issues. 

#6: Location of the Photographer’s Meal

Where your photographer eats is another factor you ought to consider. 

Here are some typical seating options, along with their pros and cons:

  • The photographer eats at tables along with guests (usually at a vendor table)
    • Pros: the photographer is present and able to jump right back to clicking away when they are finished, they are sure to get food and a chance to sit down. 
    • Cons: they are stuck in the middle of the event, you will likely have to pay for an additional table and its decor, your photographer has no real break. 
  • The photographer has an hour or so to leave the venue (usually only if you are not providing food for them. Remember, you should provide a meal for your photographer unless they specifically request otherwise)
    • Pros: the photographer gets the chance to leave and reset before jumping back in to photograph your exciting after-party and you don’t have to worry about making sure they have food and a place to eat it. 
    • Cons: the photographer is offsite and will miss any moments that happen while they are gone. 
  • The photographer eats in a designated vendor room (usually just off the main dining room, this is typically the preferred option)
    • Pros: the photographer has a place to unwind while they eat. They are nearby and can jump right back in when their break is over. The room can be used as a staging area so that their bags are not cluttering your venue. They have quick access to what they need, without having to take time away from photographing to grab supplies. 
    • Cons: you have to supply this room. It may appear unseemly if it is visible to guests. 

This is another great conversation to have with your photographer. 

Do they have a preference, or have they found a way that works best?

Remember, they are professionals and have shot many weddings. It is likely that they have had a variety of experiences and can shed some light on which options work best.

#7: Final Count of Guests

Do photographers count as wedding guests? 

It depends on how you are counting. Do they need an invitation and a place on the seating chart? No. 

Do you need to communicate to your venue and any caterers that they will be present? Yes, absolutely. 

You should include your photographers, and any other vendor you plan to feed, in the total guest headcount. 

Why You Should Consider Making Feeding Your Photographer a Priority Even on a Tight Budget

From capturing the most romantic moments to helping you know how to pose, wedding photographers play a major role in your wedding day. 

Even if you are trying to keep to a strict budget for your wedding, feeding your photographer isn’t the best place to take a budget cut. It is one of the typical, basic courtesies standard in the industry. 

Your photographer doesn’t expect a four-course meal complete with fillet mignon, but they do need something tasteful, filling, and appropriate. You may find that they are happy with a sandwich box from a local bakery or even a few slices of pizza. 

Whatever your solution, you ought to do your best to communicate to your photographer that you plan to feed them. 

Wedding photographers work with many types of clients and each are incredible in their own way. An excellent photographer recognizes this and will bring their best work, no matter what. But one way to show your appreciation to your photographer is to provide them with a meal.  

Julian Ribinik Is Committed to Working for You to Capture the Best Moments of Your Big Day

Julian Ribinik Photography is committed to excellence, no matter what. We show up to your venue prepared to create and curate a beautiful collection of memories from your special day

Julian Ribinik is proud to be an NYC wedding photographer that specializes in capturing the uniqueness of a New York City wedding. While some photographers focus on creating beauty through bringing in different lighting or making modifications to the venue, we prefer to bring out the natural beauty of the venue. 

We specialize in moody, luxury photography that puts the unique lighting and architecture of NYC’s wedding venues on display in a tasteful way that compliments you and your partner. 

Looking for a photographer who can capture breathtaking images that will bring back wedding day memories for a lifetime? Start planning your dream wedding photos with Julian Ribinik Photography, a premier NYC wedding photographer.

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Julian Ribinik Wedding Photography

330 E 46th St, New York, NY 10017

(212) 256-1646