This was something that no couple seemed to have a solid idea of when I was still photographing weddings, and one of the things that can make the whole thing super awkward. If you plan on having your photographers stay during and after any meals served during your reception then yes, you need to include them in the meal or at least provide a separate meal for them. The same goes for all other vendors including DJs, childcare providers, planners and any other outside crew you’ve hired to stay with you throughout the majority of your wedding day.
In some cases, my assistants and I were just added to the meal, asked if we wanted chicken or fish, and given a table off to the side so we could eat and rest for an hour (because photographers aren’t going to take pictures of you during your meal). Other times, we were provided with a separate meal, like delivered pizzas and salads in a back room where we could all just take a minute to decompress, check our phones and have a bite before returning to work for the rest of the evening.
While it may seem like a hassle to spend extra on feeding your photographers and other vendors, it’s really just a common courtesy that should be extolled to anyone working what is likely to be a near 12-hour day. The only way you can get away with not feeding your vendors is if you give them an hour off to go out and grab a meal off-venue on their own. Either way, people gotta eat to stay busy!
One thing that all photographers and anyone else working your wedding should not be included in is the drinking. Anyone who’s providing a professional service shouldn’t be drinking on the job, plain and simple, so it’s not a bad idea to let any potential DJ’s, day-of coordinators, photographers and makeup artists know that you’ll be feeding them but expecting them not to imbibe. If any of them seem to take issue with this maybe skip along to the next vendor on your list.