As a cost cutting measure, venues and caterers usually offer meal options for your other vendors which are cheaper than the catered food. But as you’re meeting with other wedding vendors, and looking over their contracts, you’ll find that there’s usually a section in there which requires you to provide them a “hot meal” or “the same meal as your guests”. In other words, you can’t use the cheaper option.

These clauses aren’t in there because your vendors are snooty and always need to eat fancy food. They’re there because sometimes those vendor meals are very, very bad; think stale bread, cheese and crackers, or an actual “lunchables” box. Like, for an 8 year old. Your vendors are working hard all day and you need them to have a substantial meal.

The thing is, even if you’ve agreed to provide your vendor with a “hot” meal, you might not necessarily need to. Vendors differ. Some see the fancy food as a perk of the hard work they do. But some, on the other hand, just need to make sure their corners aren’t being cut.

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What’s the cheaper option?

The truth is, not all vendors want a heavy, rich meal. A pile of creamy mashed potatoes and buttery steak might not be the best option for someone who has to remain very active and sharp. So the more important question is what is the alternative? Would you enjoy eating it in the middle of a busy and exhausting day?

Ask your vendor or caterer what the alternative is. It shouldn’t be a problem for them to show you a quick snapshot of what they give vendors, since these meals are typically standard and prepared in advance. You be the judge.

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Will it change when they get to eat?

Eating during a wedding reception can be a problem for wedding vendors. The best times to serve vendors and the best times for them to eat are usually mismatched. It takes time to plate the meals your guests are eating and even though the best time for your vendor’s food to available for them is as soon as food service begins, this practice isn’t standardized and it is easily forgotten, to the detriment of the quality they produce.

The less expensive vendor meal option, on the other hand, is usually prepared in advance and can be more easily made available right away–or even at the very beginning of the reception.

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You can ask them what they prefer

If you have agreed to provide your vendor with a hot meal you’ll need to honor that, if that’s what they prefer. But, don’t assume that just because it’s in the contract, it’s not worth asking about. It may be a valid opportunity to save money.

Make sure the cheaper option is of good quality–that you would like it–and then just ask them what they would prefer. Some of your vendors, videographers and photographers notably, may be eager to take a less expensive, but good-quality, chicken sandwich or salad wrap. Just ask.