Meals at wedding, do you get fed? at

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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old August 29th, 2010, 02:37 PM   #1
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Meals at wedding, do you get fed?

A wedding video shift for us takes the whole day - two camera set up and usually about 8-12 hours worth of filming waiting around for things to "happen".

We used to just please ourselves about food and drinks and grab a bite to eat somewhere when the wedding party were having thier meal. However we stopped this as it meant usually travelling to somewhere to get food as the wedding reception venues locally are highly expensive or there is not the option for food.

So as of last year we started stating that the cameramen require fed and watered as part of the deal. This seems to work however we are now treated by the wedding reception staff as a after though or 2nd class citezens - 99% of the time we have to remind the reception venue about our meals that the bride/groom should have organised as stated in our T&C's it is hit and miss.

I spoke to a competitor a few years back that has been doing wedding videos for 30+ years and he always asks for a seat at one of the guests tables and have the full 3 course wedding meal with the guests I was shocked! - however I'm now coming round to his way of thinking and considering this just wondering what you guys do?
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Old August 29th, 2010, 03:32 PM   #2
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Well I don't the guests but I do very often eat what the guests eat at my own mini table. Or if thats not available I eat a sandwhich that the venue provides. Its in my contract that the B&G must feed me if I'm there for longer than a certain amount of hours. Most brides take this to mean full guest meals even though I just mean a sandwhich.. I don't complain.
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Old August 29th, 2010, 04:31 PM   #3
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I expect to be fed but I prefer not to sit down with the guests. If you are seated with guests at your table you are obliged to socially interact with them. I prefer to eat privately so I can get the benefit of a mental break. I can also eat more quickly so I can be on with things without appearing to be rude.
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Old August 29th, 2010, 05:54 PM   #4
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Unless I'm doing a special like a ceremony shoot that's only a few hours, I do expect to be fed but like Jim I prefer not to eat with the guests. More often than not reception venues here will set up a special table away from the guests for the photog, videog and DJ ... yep, sitting away from the guests not only gives you a mental break but also allows you to see what's happening ... more than once I have spotted a "filmable event" but only because I was able to have an overview of the tables!!

My "tactful" approach to brides that seem to be put out by the fact that you need to eat is that I tell them we can either go out and find dinner elsewhere so we might be gone 2 hours OR they can feed us. They always choose the 2nd option for fear of losing footage of events that happen while we are gone!!

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Old August 29th, 2010, 06:27 PM   #5
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I have on my contract "a meal is appreciated but not expected". As my prices have increased over the years, I find less people less willing to feed me, knowing how much they are paying me. I used to get fed all the time, now probably only 25% of the time.

When I have been promised a meal, kitchen staff always forget and serve me last - and it's cold. Or vegetarian. It sucks - that will never change.

I hate being seated with the guests - (a) because I like to eat fast... and messy (b) Uncle Bob usually wants to quiz me about the gear I use - because he "dabbles a bit" with video.... ARRGGHHHHH.... kill me now!!!
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Old August 29th, 2010, 07:22 PM   #6
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packed lunch? (that might be just a uk term)

I take a flask of soup, sandwich, can of coke, packet of crisps.

Altough if i get offered food, i take it!
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Old August 29th, 2010, 07:32 PM   #7
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Depending on a venue we have our own table and a full meal, or we get it somewhere else on the side (kitchen, bar, hallway, etc). I don't specify anything in the contract about food, but I know that B&G have to pay the venue for us the same as other guests. Once I had a situation that Bride told us (me and the band) that we are supposed to get full dinner and sitting, because she was charged full price for us. The venue never provided anything for us - she did a big scene, bashing the manager for his "cheapness". It was nice to see that my customer does care for me :-) But after many many receptions done with empty stomach I learned to bring my own food - sometimes it tastes better then what they're serving at the reception.
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Old August 29th, 2010, 07:35 PM   #8
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Years ago I put into my service agreement that I get fed OR I have the option to leave for up to an hour to get food. I do not brown bag it never have never will. Weddings, commerical work whatever. It has nothing to do with how much I am getting paid.
I do not need to sit with the guests or have the same meal but I DO need to eat. By the time the meal is served at the reception I've been on the job at LEAST 7 hours many times so don't tell me you don't want to eat. Now I can't say for sure but I think in the US there are some labor laws that speak to how long one should work before getting a break but since we are not talking about a typical 9 to 5 job we'll put that aside. I have eaten far to many fast food meals in my car over the years and I don't need to do that or eat a sandwich I brought from home when I'm doing a job and the reception is $125 a plate. A vendor meal? Fine. An open seat at the reception? Fine, but if you want me to do a great job on your wedding then at least feed me dinner or I WILL leave for up to an hour and should I miss something while gone, too bad.
I've been working this way for the last 20 years of my career and only 1 that I can think of did I have to enforce the "law" and go out.
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Old August 29th, 2010, 08:59 PM   #9
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Been filming weddings for 10 years and have always partaken of the reception food.

Our budget customers generally provide a buffet style meal, so at some point after the first few major reception events have happened, and after most of the guests have gone through (but well before it's only scraps left)... our crew will take a 15 minute break and chow.

For our higher end clients who go the multi-course deal, we've always been given a seat at the table with the photographer/dj/band to partake of the 3 course meal etc.

Same thing goes for the rehearsal dinner. We always get fed, because after all it is dinner time, and we are missing dinner time while filming.

Also, I prefer not to eat with the other guests as well, for all the reasons previously stated.

On a side note, I am in the South, and I guess it's Southern Hospitality, but it seems over 10 years I have never had one client who did not go out of their way to make me feel welcome at the event in terms of eating etc. It's as if they will take offence if you DON'T eat. lol

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Old August 29th, 2010, 10:02 PM   #10
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Regions differ.

In my area, most brides & grooms expect to feed the hired help. The photographers often take a break to eat while working. Whether I eat or not depends on the specific gig and specific situation.

I live and work from a mountain resort town. The surrounding area is rural although we are about 60 miles from our state's largest city. I'm one of the few professional wedding videographers around and there are hardly any part-timers either. I take jobs in a 200 mile radius. Whether and what I eat depends on the job.

Some of the weddings I shoot in my town are quite small --- maybe ten to twenty guests who have traveled from a couple of states away to get married in the mountains. They'll have a dinner in a reserved room in one of the town restaurants after the ceremony. These are usually only three hours or so of work for me; shoot some preparation, shoot the ceremony, talk to the guests on camera, shoot a ritual or two and some toasts, and go home. There's really no way to feed me nor, to my thinking, any need for them to do so.

It's not that much different when I'm shooting the larger local weddings where the ceremony and reception are held at one of our nearby resort facilities. These can be three to five hour gigs. Virtually every couple I've ever worked for has expected me to be fed. Even if they did not, I know most of the resort staff -- maybe shot their weddings or their kids' weddings --- and would get fed if I wanted to eat. But there's always stuff going on with the larger events. I find it hard to keep track of things and my equipment and try to eat. So, maybe I'll grab a roll but usually I find it easier not to bother with eating. Anyway, celebratory food tends to be heavy and rich and I'd usually prefer to wait until I get home and can relax before I eat.

Same thing when I go down to the nearby city and shoot a wedding there. It's easier for me to just pay attention to the video stuff and wait to eat until I get home.

Then, there are other jobs. In some of these, the site may be three or four hours away. Maybe there's a a very long day with multiple events where there there are real breaks in the action. (I've done a couple of huge things where festivities were spread over several days.) So, I may pack some food for the trip, and the folks (particularly the ranchers) really want you to eat and would feel slighted if you do not. I've done a number of weddings for local restaurant families where the photographers, musicians, dj and I were as much guests as hired help. (This happens when you work in small towns), So, in these situations. I try to avoid eating with the guests for the reasons everybody has outlined above plus one other: if you get distracted talking to guests, it's too easy to spill food on myself or equipment. Trust me, you do not want barbecue sauce on a lens. It can be very difficult to get it all off.
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Old August 29th, 2010, 10:27 PM   #11
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Getting fed at the reception is a must. If you're working 8+ hours on the wedding day, there's no way the client can expect you not to eat. And bringing your own food is not an option when you're on the run.

Tell them you need to get fed along with the other vendors.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 12:11 AM   #12
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Sorry folks but the sort of treatment many expect, and get, is one of the things we're trying to change. The simple message is "get real".

Does the painter who comes to decorate your house expect you to serve him a meal at midday or does he stop to eat his sandwiches and drink his tea from a flask?

Does the gang who come to remove trees from your yard get sat down to a two-course meal at noon?

For 30 years we made bi-monthly programmes in a studio for a multinational blue-chip client. Far from covering the cost of my seven-man crew's meals they expected to be fed sandwiches and drinks by us, and anyone whose worked in a large studio will know that they invariably have catering facilities on site or nearby. The cost was, of course, built into our quotation.

I think that to expect the clients to fork out for another two or three guests at the wedding breakfast is unreasonable. It's tantamount to increasing your income by stealth.

Now I'm not suggesting that we're camels and can go all day without sustenance, nor do I expect to subsidise the job from profit. What I do suggest is that the business should stop treating itself as some sort of pampered speciality, build the cost of its food and drink into the product price and behave like the professionals we all claim to be.

Sorry to make waves but this is something about which I feel very strongly.

Last edited by Philip Howells; August 30th, 2010 at 08:14 AM.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 01:20 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Philip Howells View Post
Does the painter who comes to decorate your house expect you to serve him a meal at midday....
Interesting point. We are renovating our house at the moment and my wife serves up the contractors an endless supply of baked scones, muffins, sandwiches - keeps the coffee and tea flowing all day.

She doesn't have to, but guess who benefits? Guess the quality of workmanship we receive?

Hence my contract wording... appreciated but not expected. Let brides decide the ettiquette - so I can decide what time/effort to devote to editing and special touches. Ha ha.

(Actually that could be a good motto.... "If you want a good video - pay me, If you want an AWESOME video - pay me and feed me!")
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Old August 30th, 2010, 07:14 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Philip Howells View Post
Does the painter who comes to decorate your house expect you to serve him a meal at midday or does he stop to eat his sandwiches and drink his tea from a flask?
I disagree, Philip. Your painter is not expected to work without pause, break, or food for 12-16 hours, doing his best to make sure he doesn't miss any important moment of the day. When he takes his hour to go chow, you don't get upset.

If a client doesn't want to feed me, then they have to expect that something might be missed while I take my hour off to go eat somewhere. Whenever this is explained to them, guess what? They prefer to supply the meal and have you stay on the scene.

I'm perfectly happy to feed myself, but am very grateful when the clients decide to feed us and let us sit in the hall at the dj/band table. Here in Montreal, that's almost always what happens. It's a win win situation. We get to sit down and take a break, enjoy a bit of dinner, and they have their photographer/videographer with them in the room at all times, ready to react to whatever happens. It just makes sense.

Even at events where they sit us in a separate room to eat, I spend the whole time stressed out that I'm missing something.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 07:48 AM   #15
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I have added a clause to my contract that I make brides aware of and it states: That if a meal is not provided, then I may have to go off location in order to get a meal, which may result in some footage being missed." Of course I leave a camera man behind in case something does happen, but this usually catches their attention that providing a meal is important for their video.

Fortunately I have a second cameraman who believes it's bad luck to eat while filming. So he doesn't touch a cracker when we are working. Funny guy.
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