Every wedding photographer will have a slightly different dinner policy, and this can most definitely be found in the wedding contract. It is most common to set aside a plate of catered dinner for both the wedding photographer and their assistant/second shooter. This way they are still at the wedding venue and don’t need to take time for travelling to get a meal, or feel lonely in their cars with sandwiches! When the photographers are seated in the room, they are still feeling the wedding vibe and guests get an opportunity to talk with them too. Most of the time, we are too busy to have any deep conversations while on the job, but let me tell you, guests Jim, Joe, June and Josh all want to ask what camera I’m shooting with! Dinner break gives us time to chat freely with the other guests at the table.
Why don’t photographers take pictures during dinner? We will take photographs of the full dinner, dessert, and snack sets when they are just served and plated. But hardly anybody feels hot while eating roasted garlic and mushroom penne. Nobody wants a camera on them while they’re eating, so we take a break and refuel ourselves too. The only exception to this standard rule, however, is kids and cupcakes! So we may sneak around during dessert time ;)
Wedding Flow Tip: Many photographers have their cameras right at their side during dinner and are ready for any spontaneous happenings, but some of them state clearly in their contract that they would like a solid X amount of time for a break, without picking up their camera. If this is the case, I highly recommend seating the photographer and their assistant among the first for receiving their dinner. This way, their thirty minutes starts sooner, and once things start happening again after dinner, the photographers won’t miss anything due to time remaining on break.