Where Does the Wedding Photographer Sit During Dinner

Where Does the Wedding Photographer Sit During Dinner?

It wasn’t until recently that I even thought this would be a subject to write about but there certainly seem to be many couples who want to know where their wedding photographer should sit during dinner.  Although there are about a bazillion blogs out there addresses the issue of whether or not a photographer is to be fed at a wedding (hint: if you want a happy photographer, at least give them a nibble or two!) but there are few, if any, asking questions about where does the wedding photographer sit during dinner.  Guess it’s my turn to open up a big ol’ can of worms with my answer…

Where Does the Wedding Photographer Sit During Dinner

Why does it matter where the wedding photographer sit during dinner?

It matters because candid moments happen during receptions, and you need to make sure your photographer is in a prime position to be able to capture those moments.

Wedding photographers will not photograph someone who is eating, but we will watch what’s going on quite intently and anticipate where the action will pop up next. Think “whack-a-mole” but for photos! If a photographer is seated central to where the action is likely to be, the odds of us being able to do a quick turn, get our gear to our eyes and capture that moment before it disappears is much, much higher than if we’re at the back of the room or worse – in a separate room.

Candid moments aside, when it comes to determining where the photographer sits during dinner, you also need to consider how obstrusive our walk to-and-from the points of action will be. This means that every time another speech happens, or a toast, or a game or cake cutting, we’re getting up and moving around. Your guests wouldn’t appreciate it if we have to weave through tables each and every time – so keep us central to the action.

Where Does the Wedding Photographer Sit During Dinner

What’s a vendor table?

One of the more popular options for determining where a photographer sits during dinner is to stick us at a vendor table. While I understand that not all couples want to sit their vendors at the same table as their guests, vendor tables only work if they’re actually located in the reception room and if we still have the ability to get to-and-from the action quickly and without disturbing guests.  

Where Does the Wedding Photographer Sit During Dinner

Sitting in another room…

Vendor tables are cool and work totally well if they still provide us unobstructed access to where the action is occurring but also if they’re in the room that we’re supposed to be photographing in. Are you following me with this one? ‘Where does the wedding photographer sit during dinner’ should be a simple question…. in the freaking room the event is taking place in!

I know, you probably re-read that a few times and wondered if I’ve (finally) lost my last marble… I’m serious though. Some reception locations do not allow vendors to have a table in the same room as the reception is in. In their eyes, if they wouldn’t let their serving staff eat in the reception room, other “vendors” shouldn’t either. The thing is – your media team (DJ, live music, MC, photography and video) have to be present in the room that they are working in. Taking us out of the room literally prevents us from doing our job and jeopardizes the clients overall experience and end product.

There are some wedding venues in Toronto that have made excuses for why you must be seated in a different room (and sometimes on a different FLOOR!) and those excuses include everything from “you’re at max capacity for the room, we legally can’t have them in here” to “it’s not esthetically pleasing“. Here’s what I have to say to that:

If you’re a couple who has paid for a photographer and your venue is giving you every excuse in the book to not let them be in the room at all times, ask them where it states in your contract that vendors will be placed outside of the main event space.

If your contract does not explicitly have language that indicates your vendors must be in a seperate area for parts of the evening, insist with your venue that your vendors be treated like any other guest or ask them what kind of compensation they’ll be providing you if your vendors cannot perform their duties to the venues interference.

It’s never fun to have a conversation that gets that intense – but as vendors teams, we should be making every effort to set each other up for success! We’re all there to serve our clients, so it really makes no sense for some venues to have policies that put other vendors at risk of not being able to perform their duties appropriately. Sometimes the wedding industry needs to get out of their own egos and realize that we’re all people trying to do a job for the sake of the couple who has brought us together.

Where Does the Wedding Photographer Sit During Dinner

Bonus Tip: Serving Time

It’s one thing to try to be strategic about where the photographer sits during dinner, it’s another to totally slay that strategy by upping your game! How do you do this? By making sure that your vendors are fed at the same time as the head table.

Hear me out on this one – I promise that it’s not because we think we’re more important than your guests. This is strictly for practical reasons. Some vendors – like video and photo – need to stay on the same timeline as the couple so that they can be the couple’s shadow. When the couple is eating, the vendors should be eating (nobody wants photos of themselves eating!) and when the couple is ready to get up, wander around and greet guests, the vendors should be ready too.

Where Does the Wedding Photographer Sit During Dinner

Where does the wedding photographer sit during dinner? Summary

If you have a media team of vendors, whether that’s an MC, DJ, live music, photo or video, they need to be present in the room that the event is occurring in if you want them to be able to do the best possible job for you. Sitting at a vendor table is totally cool if they still have easy access to get to/from the action and if that vendor table is in the same room as the event. Bonus points if you arrange for your vendors to eat at the same time as the head table – you’ll get even better photos because your photographer will be able to be available every minute that you are!

Wondering where does the wedding photographer sit during dinner shouldn’t be rocket science – but for some venues, it seems to be an overly complicated experience and clients are being given information that can put their photos (or video) in jeopardy. At the end of the day, each and every vendor has been hired to be there for the couple and we need to set each other up for success for the sake of that couple!

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