Short answer: Yes, please.
Longer answer: I want to write this in the least entitled way possible, to help you (the client) get the best photographs of your wedding while also making my life easier. Let’s talk about this with the 5 W’s.
Your photographers. I can’t speak for the other vendors at your wedding, like the DJ or band, who I assume eat at some point during the night, etc. Right now I’m talking about myself and your second photographer.
It’s a very physical job. All day I carry a ton of weight in camera equipment on my body — so much that, if I put my bags down on the right front seat, my car beeps that my passenger doesn’t have a seatbelt on. I run probably 2-3 miles back and forth over the 8 hours.
Most likely, we have been photographing for at least 4-5 hours before your dinner service begins. Most of my clients have us photographing the getting-ready portion of the day, ceremony, formals, portraits, and cocktail hour, before we see any food. Before we’ve been shooting, we’ve been in the car to get to the venue, so it may be 6 hours since we’ve had a meal. I always make sure to pack some protein-heavy snacks to nibble on between events, but by the time the hors d’oeuvres start making their rounds and we’re still photographing your guests socializing at cocktail hour, our tummies are rumbling. So a meal in the middle of what amounts to probably a 10-hour work day (7-8 hrs of coverage and perhaps 1 hr for travel each way) is much appreciated.
What should you feed us? Your catering service can include us in your catering head count, or you can opt to give us a vendor meal. Either one is appreciated, although I do want to point out the difference between the two, because I’ve had clients who have said they’ve put us in the catering count but the caterers gave us vendor meals instead. And when the clients found out what we’d been served, they were upset that they’d paid essentially for two full meals and learned their money went into what is essentially a cold sandwich and chips. If we are added to the catering head count, we eat what you have chosen for your guests to nosh on. Typically it is hot, and if it’s part of the buffet line we can avoid foods that we can’t eat (I’m lactose-intolerant so I’m always saying no to the mac-and-cheese plates that are so tantalizing!) and double-up on things we can eat (like an extra helping of grilled veggies… mmm!)
I am not a diva about food, and will happily take any meal that I can get — as long as I can eat it. I always feel terrible when I have to find a coordinator or catering manager to say, I’m really grateful that you’ve given me this cheeseburger, but I really can’t have cheese… could you please take the time out of your day to find me something else? 90% of my clients have buffet weddings… it’s seriously easier to just let us pop through the line and help ourselves to foods we can eat.
We photographers really appreciate being in the same room or area as your guests when we have our dinner. It doesn’t have to be at a table — I’m fine with perching on a bench somewhere — but we would really like to be able to see what is going on. If there’s an impromptu toast by your Aunt Muriel, for instance; or maybe people are clanging on their champagne flutes for you to kiss… we will see that happening and can grab those shots. If we’re banished to a separate “vendor” room for our meals, or the kitchen, we won’t know what is going on.