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Popup judgement: do wedding photographers need to be fed?

by | 20 February 2016 | Planning

Earlier this month, there was a bit of a feud on Twitter (hard to believe, we know) after Brides magazine said wedding photographers often don’t need to be fed.

The link above is a web archive link, because Brides took down the original post. Probably because of reactionary articles like this one, showing the strongly worded tweets from photographers who love food so much they eat it every day.

Everyone likes a good war of tweets, so we thought we’d weigh in on the subject.

A quick summary of what went down

The contentious blog was written by Sandy Malone – an events planner, reality TV star and, as far as we can tell, a perfectly nice lady. She’s a regular blogger on all things wedding-related and clearly knows her stuff. But it seemed a bit harsh when she said vendors working just the wedding should “feed yourself or pack a lunch to eat in the staff break area if you cannot survive the shift.”

Plenty of Photographers on Twitter thought that was harsh too, and they started slinging dissatisfied tweets in her direction (see below). Malone answered a couple, then apparently started blocking people.

Twitter Malone

Brides soon took the original post down.

So in a nutshell: Malone thinks it’s a contractual issue, whereas the tweeting photographers think it’s an etiquette thing.

It’s also worth pointing out that Brides ran a similar blog in February 2014 that said ‘definitely yes’ you should feed your vendors, but only the ones who stay for the reception. Which is roughly the same as what Malone said, just with less emphatic wording.

So who does the popup judge find in favour of?

It’s hard to criticise the photographers who called it out. If someone wrote a blog saying writers shouldn’t be allowed to own puppies…or something (I dunno, there’s not really a proper equivalent), I’d probably tweet a rebuttal too. And the fact that Brides took the post down is a pretty solid vindication.

As for Sandy Malone (that name really sounds like an outlaw in a Western, doesn’t it?), her advice sounds mean and stingy at best – disrespectful and conflict-causing at worst.

But we’re not fans of bandwagoning, so let’s see if we can fight her corner a bit.

She’s an event planner, so she’s used to juggling many different issues all at once, with zero margin for error on wedding day. So it makes sense to have all vendor obligations and requirements spelled out in contracts. Anything that’s left to etiquette is just asking for misunderstandings and conflict.

So we can cut her a bit of slack there. But we think this all points to a wider, more useful lesson:

Get it sorted before the big day

Vendors probably shouldn’t have to put it in their contracts that they need feeding, but apparently they risk going hungry if they don’t. So long before the big day arrives, make sure you (or your planner) know exactly who’s eating what and when.

We’d say the friendly thing to do would be to discuss food with each vendor when you book them, offering to feed them out of courtesy, with no need for any contractual stuff.

Or if you want to be all legal about it, you can rule that you’ll feed only the people who have it in their contracts. But (and this is the key thing) if that’s the plan, make sure you mention it to the ones who don’t have it in their contracts – to make sure they know the deal.

Either way, just by bringing it up when you book each vendor, you arrive on the day knowing you won’t have any ‘contract vs etiquette’ issues to deal with.

Any other business

It’s worth thinking about what price you put on having a good working environment at your wedding.

If you have a lot of vendors to feed, and it’s something totally different to what the guests are eating (and at different times), your caterers could start cranking the price up quite significantly.

So you could risk slipping into the mindset of ‘we’re already paying them thousands – now we have to feed them too?’. This attitude makes Malone’s ‘only if it’s in the contract’ approach a bit more appealing.

But surely it’s worth spending that bit more money to know it won’t be an issue. It’s your wedding day, so you want to be surrounded by good vibes. You don’t want the people working at your wedding to be disgruntled.

So we say you should be willing to compromise on small expenses for vendors. It might feel like money for nothing, but you’re getting something in return – you’re making sure your wedding is a nice working environment. And that always counts for something.

Have you had any ‘contract vs etiquette’ issues with wedding vendors? If so, tell us about it in the comments.


About the author

Matt Phil Carver

Matt’s a copywriter and blogger from West Sussex, England. He spends his days helping people simplify their writing and give their words more punch and personality. At weddings, Matt’s always quick to get up and dance, even when the vicar’s telling him to wait for the reception.


Planning Popup judgement: do wedding photographers need to be fed?