AN OPEN LETTER TO WEDDING VENDORS – How we can serve each other better!

Awhile ago, we shot a gorgeous, high-end wedding where money wasn’t a hindrance. The day started at 8:30am and was long and exhausting. Later in the evening it was time for the reception and the guests sat down to begin their 3 hour plated dinner. We paced the floor trying to take photos of guests while they weren’t eating. My tummy started making noises as all I ate were a few granola bars throughout the day. We went to find our meal, but the vendor let us know that they only give the vendors one of the 7 courses and they would let us know when it was our turn. The hours went by, the stomach noises increased, and my energy was draining. Finally, by 9:15pm it was time for our small meal. We went to the back room where they placed us, only to find out it was time for the first dance! We had to leave our warm meal behind.

We completely understand that the caterer’s first priority is the guests and the wedding party! The caterers have a huge job with timing of food and the work that is needed to serve several guests, however caterers like this are missing a big opportunity to work together with the wedding “team”!  Vendors (including photographers) can choose to only serve their clients, or to serve their clients and the wedding team behind the wedding, allowing themselves to gain the love and respect of other people in the same industry and possibly even get referrals from it!

Most of the time, situations like a caterer not serving the team in the best way possible is not because they are wanting to be mean or to starve them. It is simply not their priority (which makes complete sense) and they don’t understand things from the other perspective.

Here are some thoughts and tips to the amazing group of professionals working in the wedding industry to help us all serve our clients and each other well:

TIP #1 –  Caterers – feed the majority or all of the wedding team when the COUPLE eats.

Photographers, videographers, and planners have been on their feet for usually 8+ hours before they enter the reception. They are bringing high-energy to the day and leading the couple and the wedding party throughout the day. It can be exhausting! They don’t have time to slip into Starbucks for a snack. Feeding a great meal at the beginning of the reception is useful for a lot of reasons:

  1. It replenishes their energy for the rest of the reception.
  2. No one wants pictures or videos of themselves eating. It isn’t attractive, so this is a dead time of the day for this team (same with other vendors like the DJ and planner).
  3. Less chance of missing something important because couple is eating.

When you feed the photographers or wedding team last, that is usually the same time the couple is done eating and is either going around greeting guests or speeches are starting, leaving us a few seconds to gobble our food or come back to it later when it is cold.

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TIP #2 – Photographers – If you expect caterers to feed you or decorators to refer you, share your work with them! 

Other industries don’t have the luxury of showcasing their work unless they use a blurry iPhone photo or the photographer takes the time to share the images with the person who also put a lot of time into creating an amazing day.

Also, when someone does share their services with you whether it is photos, food or whatever, make sure you thank them!

Kerri Moss said it perfectly, “It take 10 seconds to say thank you when someone sends you photos to use for your marketing!”

TIP #3 – Venues & Coordinators – Photographers, Planners, DJ’s and Videographers can’t eat far away

A lot of venues think that vendors benefit from being in a back staff room to eat their food in private, however when we are in a room far away from the reception, we can’t hear what is going on and may miss key moments. Ideally, a vendor table in the reception or an area close by allows the vendors to be close to the action, without having their gear spilled all over the table with other guests.

TIP #4 – Photographers – Be on time as much as possible!

As photographers, it can be tempting to spend just 10 more minutes at a killer photo spot, but if there are guests waiting for the bride and groom to arrive for dinner, people get impatient and it reflects badly on the photographer. Planners are also very particular about being on schedule or it can mess up the perfectly manicured order of events for the evening. Obviously some things are out of control and if that happens, try your best to give the planner or someone at the reception a heads up.

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TIP #5 – Planners & Coordinators, MC’s, DJ’s – when an event (like the first dance) is about start during the reception (or even the ceremony for that matter) try your best to let the whole wedding team know. 

Mindy Pollack – “I love when DJs keep us in the loop with what’s happening next (The first dance is happening after the next 2 songs… the bouquet toss is after this song). It gives us the chance to switch lenses, change light setup, or heck, just to make sure we don’t run to the bathroom!”

We could be in another room shooting details, or in the restroom, and if they start the first dance we may totally miss the moment. The other day we were shooting at a wedding and the music didn’t change or anything and all of a sudden the groom was walking down the aisle with his mom. The more we can prevent those situations, the better it is for the team and especially the couple!

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TIP #6 – The WHOLE wedding team – try your best to stay out of the way of shots. 

It is obviously difficult to always know where video and photographers are shooting, and after all, you are part of the whole wedding experience, but sometimes planners may be poking in the doorway as the bride is coming down the aisle photobombing some of the crucial shots of the day.

Then there are the videographers…..they are getting paid by the couple to get great shots, same with the photographers. Everyone is on the same team. It is inevitable that the photo and video team will get in each other’s ways at times; however, do your best to not get too close to the couple so you are in the others shot a lot and try to take turns. For example, if the photographer needs a wide shot of the ceremony, then if the videographer can move their tripod in the center aisle for that one moment, that can be helpful. Remember to be as friendly as possible.

TIP #7 – Officiants – please move BEFORE the first kiss!

A lot of officiants are getting good at announcing the kiss and then stepping off to the side, but what is even better is standing off to the side, then announcing the kiss as what a lot of officiants don’t realize is sometimes the kisses are short and the photo we have is the couple kissing with the officiant in the background trying to sneak off to the side. Not the best photobomb! It actually makes you look disinterested, and it would look much better for you to be in the photo off to the side smiling and clapping like everyone else is. You’re allowed to celebrate the fact that they’re kissing!


TIP #8 – Be encouraging to the other vendors.

Remember whether you want to work again with these people or not, you want them to love working with you! Encourage the other vendors, letting them know how good of a job they are doing. We are all working together to make this the very best day possible for the two that just became husband and wife.

Chris Sosa – “Always smile on wedding day. I notice I’ve seen too many vendors with a face that looks like they hate their life. Really shows. Smiling makes such a difference!”

TIP #9 – Make connections!

Carly Marmen – “Introduce yourself! Industry connections are everything. I’m more likely to refer a vendor to a bride or groom if they have personally made an effort to reach out.”

A wedding is a great opportunity to network with other people that share the same type of clients. Find ways to stand out and be helpful to the other people on the “wedding team” whether it is offering to get them a drink, holding a door for them as they try and move in their equipment, or just simply being the first to say “hello”!

Also, it isn’t ONLY the wedding day that you have the opportunity to connect with these people. You can email them a few days before to introduce yourself and let them know how excited you are to work with them, as well as after the wedding to let them know that you have sneak peaks up or a wedding blog featuring some of their great work!



We’re so excited to see the whole wedding team implement some of these tips so that we can all start working even better together and serving each other well, ultimately making our clients experience THAT much better!!!



Do YOU have anything else to add to our list?

Leave a comment with the things you wish other vendors knew!!!

An Open Letter to Wedding Vendors! Calling all photographers, videographers, officiants, DJ's, planners, caterers, and all other wedding vendors!!

August 18, 2016

10 responses on "AN OPEN LETTER TO WEDDING VENDORS - How we can serve each other better!"

  1. Laser and colored spotted lights during the important dances. Looks like 100 scopes pointed at the couple. ????

  2. Great post!!! I agree 1000%

  3. Umm…if you want the caterers to take care of you, taking your break when their money shots are happening is not the best approach.

    If you’re on the food team, you get to build a restaurant, move a bunch of setup stuff that someone forgot, get food ready, feed several hundred people, clean up after them, clean all the dishes, and then break down the restaurant you just built and haul it (and sometimes the trash) away. It’s hard, dirty, hot, and goes on generally for 10-12 hours straight with a couple bathroom breaks and food either very early or very late.

    Let’s just say we don’t sympathize too much over your inability to go to Starbucks and hauling loaded cambros and kitchen equipment is a bit heavier than a camera.

    We’re still happy to take care of you (we are after all in hospitality) but for you to lead off with a paen on how you don’t want to take the shots that will actually be useful to us in our businesses while telling us we need to help you recharge…well let’s just say you come across a bit soft and clueless.

    Find out what shots really help the caterer, dj, rental company, band, planner, venue, etc and what’s going to put the wedding in a magazine. Put all those on your photo shoot list after the paid ones, and make it all happen and you’ll find a) your schedule looks a bit different than the one you laid out above and b) everyone is going to take great care of you and want to work with you again in the future (assuming you’re at least pretty decent at capturing moments and stories through your lens)

  4. VIJAY GOEL, The photographer is not there to capture your businesses’ “money shots”. They are there for the couple, and most likely, the couple are NOT going to care for those images of you and your team working. Sure, it can be done as a courtesy, but their job is to capture their couples moments. Sending them off to a back room or having them wait hours to be served a decent meal is ridiculous. After my team and I being in this situation numerous times, we’ve cleared this issue with our future couples and they always let the caterer know the photographer must be served at the same time as them. Plus honestly, how difficult is it to send them a plate or two their way early on?

    To this day it baffles me that caterers and the majority of wedding vendors that get booked AFTER a wedding photographer is booked don’t make more of an effort to get on a photographer’s good graces. Since we are one of the first point persons, we typically have a huge amount of influence on the couple’s vendor choices.

  5. To Vijay. How many works for your catering team? A team of 2? 5? Do these 7 same people do all the prepping of the ingredients in the morning, cooking in the afternoon, setting up the chairs and tables in the late acternoon, serving the guest during dinner, transporting those kitchen equipment before midnight? And how many usually are there in a photo/video team? 2 or maybe 3 if one have a production assistant on top the two photographers. See the big difference.

    The point of this article is to foster cooperation among wedding vendors but your response came a bit off. You are so full of ego. I think you need to re-read the article. The point is to have the team be fed the same time as the guest are eating as most of the time, we are left with nothing to do during meal time. People don’t want their photos taken while they are eating. Besides we dont take the same amount of time guest take to finish their meal. 10-20 minutes is the norm so even before the guests finish their meal, we are on our feet ready to take the shots again. This is efficiency at its finest. Besides,it is not like we can afford to misj those crucial moments. Client may ask for a refund if we miss those important shots. We rarely hear
    clients asking for a caterer refund just because the food is bland.

    You are putting all the burden to photographers but keep in mind that when caterers and DJs are behind with their set up time, we are behind our schedule too. Case in point, we had a wedding where the ballroom is supposed to be open by 6pm. The caterer did not get to finish setting up until 6pm and the catering captain expects us to take full ballroom and buffet shots. After all, all it takes is just a “few clicks.”

    Try holding a DSLR (or actually have 2 DSLRs strapped on your shoulder) and continuously shoot for 10 hours. Please tell us how you feel the following day of your shoot (and even a couple more days after the shoot)

    And oh, you can drop the sarcasm remark of at “least being pretty descent with capturing moments through our lenses.” Because that will be tantamount in saying that we’d rather have Panda Express than have an overpriced but bland chicken, hard steak or soggy sandwhich.

    Providing you with pictures and images according to what you want is not our obligation. What matters to us is what the clients want. (Some could careless about table set-up etc but more on action shots) It is funny how you want photographers to take care of all the money shot for all wedding vendors when you could not grasp the simple reason why photogs need to be fed at the right time. I rest my case. Ciao!

  6. YES! Leaving the colored lights off during the important dances makes such a difference in the photos!

  7. Cake vendors- leave a box for the cake top and/or a few extra boxes for any left over cup cakes.
    All vendors- show respect for another professional and make appointments well in advance when you need to visit a venue or other stop with your bride. Like you, I have a personal life and am not sitting in my office waiting for someone to drop in.

  8. Let’s keep in mind that our meals are being PAID for by the bride and groom. We shouldn’t be led to believe they are doing us a favor. We aren’t getting a free meal. A good tip is to clear it with the bride and groom beforehand that we must eat while they eat. We are in no way obligated to get in their good graces nor should our goal be to kiss up to them. We were hired to do our job. Yes, we should always be respectful, kind and appreciate but let’s not lose our focus here.

  9. The help of experts will help you to minimize all possible errors and problems that can spoil this your important day.

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