When Should a Wedding Photographer Eat During a Reception?

When Should a Wedding Photographer Eat During a Reception?

A wedding day is a marathon for photographers. Finding the time to grab a quick bite and refuel can feel impossible, but this is the perfect time to do it. 

Moving around, capturing intimate and candid shots, and being on your feet for hours can drain your energy levels. When capturing a wedding, missing key moments is not an option. With so much happening, a second's distraction can result in a missed shot. From the grand entrance to the heartfelt vows and joyous celebrations, a photographer needs to be attentive and ready to capture it all. However, amidst the fast-paced nature of the event, photographers often find themselves working up an appetite. To maintain focus and creativity, it's important to step aside, eat, and refuel. But finding the right time to eat without missing important photo opportunities can be a real challenge.

In my opinion, the ideal window for wedding photographers to eat is when the bride and groom sit down to enjoy their meal. Typically, during the wedding reception, there is a designated time for the newlyweds to dine and enjoy their wedding dinner. Nobody likes photos of themselves stuffing their faces with food, making this the perfect time for you to step away and eat yourself. By synchronizing your mealtime with the couple, you ensure that no significant moments are missed, and you are ready to capture all of the reception festivities.

During the wedding reception, as the bride and groom takes their seats, I would seize the opportunity to capture a couple of candid shots of them toasting and sharing a kiss at their table. Then I would let them know I was going to grab a bite myself but assure them that I would be close by just in case they needed anything. This way, I could enjoy a quick meal while ensuring that I am readily available to capture any spontaneous or important moments that may arise.

Image courtesy of Jada and David Parrish | https://www.jadaanddavid.com

To ensure a smooth experience, it is important to communicate your mealtime needs with the caterer. If the couple is having a plated dinner, it's crucial to inform the caterer to have your meal prepared and served at the same time as the bride and groom. Navigating this can sometimes be tricky, as some caterers may have a policy of waiting to serve the photographers and other vendors until after all the guests have been served.

To avoid any misunderstandings or delays, I recommend including a clause in your contract explicitly stating the requirement for your meal to be served simultaneously with the couple. One week before the wedding have  the couple or planner reach out reminding the caterer of this to avoid any confusion the day of. 

By strategically coordinating your mealtime with the bride and groom and establishing clear communication with the caterer, you can refuel without missing any cherished memories, ensuring that you are energized and ready to document all of the reception magic without missing a beat.

Jada Parrish's picture

Jada is a photographer and director specializing in conceptual portraits. Her work is known for its bold, colorful, and surreal style. Her creative style of portraiture lends itself nicely to work in both fashion and the music industry. She is one half of the creative duo Jada + David.

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I would also add that you should always have some food in your kit- granola bar, sandwich, whatever. Nothing worse than having a glitch/miscommunication/timing issue and missing your one opportunity to nourish yourself. And being hungry when everyone else is eating beautiful food is brutal!

Completely agree!! Snacks are crucial!

And a bottle of water.

That is amazing! I wish I was like that.

I'd also suggest that your contract specify a certain amount of time that you're on break and/or at lunch, and even whether the customer is obligated to provide lunch for the photographer (and assistant, if one is used).

That is a great idea!