brides magazine: do not feed your wedding photographer …

We came across an article by Sandy Malone, she’s a destination wedding planner and has had a show on TV. I’ve spoken with her personally on social media and this post is not to attack her. We have a different viewpoint from what she wrote and it is directly applicable to the area we live in, the Midwest – who typically experience very long, traditional, ceremonial wedding days. Also, we’re nice people over here.

Here is the article at Bride’s Magazine.

update: Bride’s Magazine removed the article. Controversy? february 5, 2016

second update: Thanks to Sean Molin you can’t delete anything from the internet, here’s the archive version. Bride’s Magazine simply deleted the post, thinking the negative social media would go away. I hope they plan on addressing the situation.

our viewpoint on feeding wedding vendors


Almost all bands have a rider in their contract that will require a meal. The meal will be given to them before guests arrive or during cocktail hour. While they should be playing during the meal (IF you have contracted that additional hour), then it is up to the band to either eat before or have a few of the musicians playing. Music should be softer in sound anyway, not a full blown band with singing while guests try to dine and talk.


Many do not have in their contract to be fed. It’s an understanding. If your photographers have been with you from the hair salon (at 10am), pre-wedding photos, ceremony, cocktail hour, grand entrances, a welcome speech … then it bodes that they need to eat. HAVE to eat. If you are unwilling to provide a meal for them, then expect that they have the right to leave the wedding to eat and then return. Who wants that? They don’t need anything special, although she is right, in many circumstances it is more difficult for the catering to provide special, less expensive meals. Either way, they need to refuel their bodies. NO PHOTOS SHOULD BE TAKEN DURING THE MEAL. It’s in poor taste and photos that will never be used in any photo album.

wedding planner team

See above for the photographers, same rule is applied.


It’s customary in our area to feed your DJ. They setup before guests arrive and then return to be on-site for 5+ hours.

who could you skip?

Perhaps you have certain vendors that “just showed up” (i.e. photo booth). They setup early and then are able to leave and return when the booth is to be open, may not require a meal. However, it’s better to feed vendors and have them on-site should the timeline need to be shifted due to unforeseeable circumstances.

While you should never need to contract a meal for your transportation driver that has to sit outside for hours to provide guests rides, we will wait until everyone is fed and IF there is left over food, go outside and give the driver a plate. Same goes for security (although most caterers will feed them anyway). This is not included in your catering final count. We do this, because we are all human beings and it’s a nice act of kindness.

final thoughts …

Your wedding planners will work with the caterers to have meals set in a different room while YOU eat. Please note, we don’t care where we eat. Usually it is the first time we have sat down all day and we literally gulf our food down. It’s not pretty. We’ve eaten with plates on our laps in stairwells. We aren’t complaining, our bodies need to fuel up.

Finally, know that we live in a geographical location that being gratuitous to your wedding vendors — that you will continue to see or interact with on social media or in person, is expected. We are not a destination location that you can whiz in, whiz out and never see that vendor again.

So please keep all of this in mind when reading articles that give this type of advice.

featured photo credit: pfe iphone

plan on!

managing your wedding guest meals

Had a great TV segment yesterday with Laura Kirtley (she’s getting married 11/16/13 up north). So these last few months it’s been The-Laura-Kirtley-Wedding-Planning-Show. HA!

The hot question that came up was how to manage your escort cards vs host/place cards for your guests with assigned seating.

Escort Cards: tell the guest which table they are to be seated.

Host or Place Cards: is placed at the actual seat where the guest is supposed to sit at their table.

Make sense?

This is definitely double the work and if you have A LOT of guests, it can be overwhelming (however we did this recently for about 300 people).

Why would a bride and groom consider this option of seating? If your invitation asked guests to select their meal, then it’s going to be really important for the caterer to know which guest gets the vegetarian, beef or chicken meal.

vegetarian meal place card

Here are some quick tips if you are considering this option:

  • You must give your caterer a floor plan as a master list to let them know what number of meals should be served at each table. This is one of our favorite tasks to do. It’s complicated, but since we love logistics, it’s what we excel in. See a photo above of a real wedding catering layout we produced that used BOTH escort and place cards. We had four different meals being served.
  • Do NOT think guests will take their Escort cards and put them at their place setting to help caterers serve them the correct meals. Will. Not. Happen.
  • Make it easy on your wait staff to be able to see at a glance which meal goes to each guest. I’ve seen suggestions to put a small “ink stamp” of a chicken or a beef in the upper corner. Sounds cute, but a nightmare for the wait staff. They need to be able to glance at the place card quickly, while holding food and to serve efficiently. See a photo above where we put large green jewels on the vegetarian dishes ONLY.

And if you want to hear my PSA to guests about changing their minds at the reception about what kind of meal they want to eat, then you’ll just have to watch my TV segment with Laura right here. Just don’t do it, guests-at-weddings. Just. Don’t. Do. It!

featured photo credit: pfe iPhone

plan on!

wedding details, napkins

Might sound silly, but a huge pet peeve of ours is how your napkin is folded on the table. It’s a detail that is often overlooked.

The pyramid, fan or bishop hat napkin fold should never see your wedding reception. And anything stuck in a glass goblet. These napkin folds are for business meetings, not your beautiful wedding.

However, if you get too creative on the fold, your caterer may not have the staff to implement a challenging fold for 300 guests. Remember too, that you have to use a stiffer 100% cotton napkin for some folds, which isn’t always what caterer’s carry. So be sure to check into that before you decide on a particular fold.

However it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Take a look what we’ve created at some of our weddings:

napkin fold ideas for weddings first  2 photos: studio b and 3rd photo: walker studio

The first photo, the bride Katie, decided to come in the day before the wedding with her bridesmaids and moms, and we hand tie bows/menus on each napkin. Definitely made a beautiful display on the table.

The second photo, the bride, Brittany, really wanted to have charger plates, however since we were having petits fours on the table it would have been too cluttered. I love this fold that drapes off the table. It gives a great presentatin and it’s easy to implement.

The final photo is our bride, Christy, really wanted silver chargers on the table. The table presentation was full, so in this instance it was better to go with a simple napkin fold and not take away from the decor.

What are you going to do with your napkins?

featured photo credit: pfe iPhone

plan on!




do not box in your wedding caterer :: part four

Part Four of our “don’t box us in” five part series about your wedding vendors!

Hmmmm….. good food. Hmmm…. good food at one of the biggest events of your LIFE, your wedding!

Sasha Souza once said that your guests will remember 3 things from your wedding: food, fun and service! Isn’t that true? If any of those things are sub par, then you will have problems.

Interestingly, your food costs could be one of your higher expenses depending on your taste palette and your guest count. So keep these things in mind…

Tips for the best outcome working with your wedding caterer:

1. Do not pack in 250 guests into a space challenged venue and expect your catering staff to serve a plated meal in a timely manner. This is where event planners can really help you with the floor plan and the real anticipated serving time (which can dramatically effect your timeline). There has to be enough space for the servers to walk around the table to set/pick up the plates.

2. Like with bartenders, do not skimp on the volume of servers that you are willing to pay for working at your wedding. It takes a lot of people to serve a large amount of guests. Most often there will be a line item on your catering proposal as to the number of servers they will bring. Look closely at that.

3. If you have guests that are suppose to have a specific plate, such as; vegetarian or vegan, make it easy for these people to be identified. Work with your wedding planner on where they will be seated so he/she can let them know.

4. Listen to your caterer when they talk about the best ways to serve the food. If they tell you it is difficult to keep your favorite dish hot and serve 200 people, then listen to them. Order that fave dish tonight for just to the two of you.

Trust your wedding caterer.

Featured photo credit: pfe iPhone

Tomorrow, part 5 and finale of this “don’t box us in” vendor series

plan on!



Just hors d’oeuvres?

Keep these points in mind:

  • Consider the time of the day to decide whether or not you
    want heavy or light hors d’oeuvres.
  • A party guest will consume an average of 6 hors d’oeuvres in
    one hour. Be sure to have enough!
  • Have small plates at the food stations.
  • Consider having pricey food selections hand-passed instead
    of setting them at food stations. Caterers speculate that guests will consume
    40-60% fewer food when it is passed. It won’t look like you are saving money,
    but you are!
  • Many people think that having a hors d’oeuvres reception
    will save them money. That is not always the case, so be sure to request a price
    quote for a dinner as well.
  • Be sure to let your guests know at the invitation level that
    a full dinner will not be served.