Or is it okay to let the pros decide when they're ready to eat and drink?

By Helen Sondag
September 24, 2019

A well-structured timeline is essential to a wedding that runs smoothly, but just how detailed do you need to get when laying out the day-of schedule? Depending on the amount of time their services are required, certain vendors may need to step away to eat (or simply catch their breath) throughout the ceremony and reception. "Most seasoned and professional vendors will respond and react to the events of the day and modify their breaks—or lack thereof—as necessary to be flexible and fully present for the bride and groom," says Virginia Edelson, founder and principal of Bluebird Productions.

Typically, this means taking a break whenever things are running smoothly and their services are not needed—or after key events have been completed, Edelson adds. However, there are other factors couples should consider when thinking about breaks for their pros. Here's how to determine if breaks should be built into the itinerary or simply left up to the discretion of the vendors you've hired.

Check the contracts.

When booking your vendors, it's important to read and understand everything in the agreement—and that goes beyond the deposit and fees. "Most vendor contracts will identify required breaks that the client must abide by," says Michelle Leo Cousins, owner and lead designer of Michelle Leo Events. "When an event planner is involved, they can coordinate scheduled breaks against the structure of the event to develop a timeline that works well for both client and vendor."

Ask each vendor what they prefer.

Of course, some contracts may contain nothing relating to resting and refueling. In that case, Cousins says it's common courtesy to have a conversation with said vendor to understand their needs. In other words, just ask! "Every vendor has a different approach to breaks, and understanding their approach is helpful and can also help build trust between client and vendor," Edelson adds. "As with everything in life, clear communication and clear expectations set up a couple and their vendors for a successful relationship."

Think in terms of hours.

Consider the length of time everyone will be working. "Every event is different and therefore, the time required by planners, photographers, and videographers will vary from each event," Cousins explains. Officiants and other vendors performing short services won't need a scheduled break, for example, but those employed for most of the day do. "Generally for planners, their time commitment depends on two elements: the event setup and the event execution. If the venue allows, some setup may take place the day prior to the event, whereas other venues only allow setup to begin the day of the event," Cousins says, adding that from setup to cleanup, a planner can work anywhere from 10 to 16 hours. Meanwhile, she says, photographers and videographers chronicling everything from getting ready to the send off might spend eight to 10 hours working your event. Most companies allow employees to take around 15 minutes for every four hours worked, so you could use that as a general guide.

Give them options.

"As a planner, we always remind our vendors in advance that food will be available for them and offer two times—one early in the day and one after dancing is well underway," Edelson explains. Be strategic about dinner breaks. For example, Cousins says the best time for planners, photographers, and videographers to eat is when guests are eating, or during downtime following the toasts and speeches. "As soon as dinner is complete for both guests and vendors, everyone can resume and nothing is missed," she says.

Set up a snack table.

Edelman says that she usually reminds vendors to bring snacks and water since timing is subject to change, but sometimes she'll also set up a "snack table" with items that are easy to grab on the go. "We like to create this area in our makeshift production room," Edelson explains. "This is typically near the band's green room or wherever else we can find a small corner that is not visible. We like to include trail mix, popcorn, granola bars, protein bars, fruit, veggies, chips, and hummus, as well as plenty of water."


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