Every event supplier working a wedding works incredibly hard, long hours. In fact, most of us have put in more than a full day’s worth of hard, physical (and mentally-challenging) work before the actual event event begins and guests arrive. Further, depending on the service you are providing, your “break” time may be at a different time than when it is suitable for the main vendor meal break. I respect everyone’s vibe and the right to a well-deserved break and nourishment to provide the energy to keep going and doing the stellar job that they need to do.
That said, a wedding is a production. It is about providing the client and their guests with the experience of a lifetime. In order to create this magic, no matter how casual the event, there are certain professional standards that any wedding and event professional “gets” as necessary to create that backdrop of magic for the event experience, and those include: professional attire (sorry, Birkenstocks may be comfortable for you, but don’t really set the tone even for the most “casual” of weddings, particularly when you are being paid to provide a service on one of the most important days of someone’s life); not smoking in front of guests; not taking personal calls in front of guests; not taking a break in guest view when possible; not drinking from the bar (or at all) – not even on a break; not eating your meal (or any food for that matter) in guest view when possible.
But the worst offender of all of these? The event partner who demands that their vendor meal be given at a distinct time completely at odds with the rest of the event and perhaps even before guests have eaten. And if it is a buffet, asking to go through the buffet line before it’s open to guests is the height of poor taste and lack of professionalism. If you don’t know these basics, you won’t be working with me. And if I’ve “inherited” your service from the client (that is, they chose to hire you and not through me), and you do this, I will make sure you are not referred again and will let others know of your unprofessionalism.
You see, event partners who have the mindset of entitlement either fall into the 1) Ignorant and Inexperienced Category (in which case, I’ve found that letting them know the why and wherefore of vendor meal time always makes sense and they rally) or the more common 2) It’s All About Me Category, and this special group of treasured event partners is to whom I direct this BLOG. Just because you are entitled to a meal morally or even legally in your contract, does not mean that the timing of it needs to make the entire wedding- including the paying clients and their guests – revolve around you and your service. And please don’t mask your request to eat at a different time as being a “need” for your unique service because of “timing issues” only you face. We all have times that are more ideal for us to eat during an event and they vary greatly.
What most in the “It’s All About Me” Category do not understand is this: while every event partner makes up the entire soulful gorgeousness of the (metaphorical) “symphony” that makes a wedding, the most crucial element of the wedding at the heart of it all is the meal and the timing of it. Caterers and Chefs go to great lengths with the Coordinator to figure out when the kitchen will be able to dish up or invite event partners to eat and it is 99.9% of the time always after guests have eaten. Larger resorts are often able to create a Vendor Meal/Break Room where a buffet is set up for hours and vendors can eat whenever they want. This is of course ideal, but not the norm for many of the weddings that are not at a resort and don’t have the extra room, kitchen prep staff, etc. to oversee an entire Vendor Meal Room (this is a cost to the client, too, don’t forget).
Guests first, because the quality experience belongs to them. If /when it is evident food is left over after guests and the kitchen staff has reached a pause behind the scenes, this is when the event partners meal time is generally planned. And for good reason. I’ve found that most event partners have not ever worked in a professional kitchen or really observed the clock-work and timing necessary to produce a flawless meal and service for the guest (triply so a large group of guests), and as such, just sees “food ready” and presumes that because they require a vendor meal , they can dive in anytime. By insisting on a special meal time for them exclusively, they have singlehandedly made the event about them and interfered with all the planning that has gone on prior, and in some cases, sabotaged the integrity and experience for the guests (and other event partners).
Because it may not be convenient to eat at the pre-designated Vendor Meal Time, true event professionals bring a snack to tide them over. They “adult”. It is much easier to save a vendor meal for an event partner for later than the vendor meal time, than it is for the vendor to waltz up and ask for their meal early. So if you can’t eat at the designated vendor meal time, let your Coordinator or Catering Event Manager know, and a meal will be graciously pulled and saved for you for when you can take a break later. You will get your meal.
Knowing how to be a good event partner and respect all other suppliers working on the same team is paramount- but triply so with the caterer and food, which is the backbone of the timeline and success of the event. While many will not tell you to your face, I guarantee that they are taking notes about who is professional and who is not and will remember your name for better or for worse the next time a client asks for a referral for your service.
Autograph your work with excellence. You never have a second chance to make a first impression with clients- or your fellow event partners. And these are the folks sending you business year-round, so their satisfaction with your performance is equally important- if not more.
Tags: caterers, catering, event partner meals, how to behave, professional etiquette, professionalism, vendor meal, vendor meal policy, vendors behaving badly