Dinner Time! Capturing your Wedding Meal

I don’t usually take pictures of people eating at a wedding. Most people don’t want a camera pointed at them when they are enjoying the food and the pictures are…well, often not flattering. On the other hand, brides work hard to provide something nice. So generally I still feel compelled to do something with food.

Food itself, of course, can be pretty photogenic. Plus it’s an important part of the complex ritual of a wedding. Food at a wedding, from the hors d’oeuvres at the reception, to the dinner, the cake and the late night snacks, are present a good portion of a marriage day. And that doesn’t count rehearsal dinners.

Cheese and Crackers

Often your food choices will provide the center piece for everyone’s socializing. The conversation starters and excuse to talk to strangers.

Table from Above

You’ll spend a lot of time figuring out what to serve, when to serve it, what people might want, etc. Since it will all be gone the morning after, you might want to have your photographer capture this center piece of your planning. Equally important, since food is such a pervasive a part of your day, you really can capture the ‘flavor’ of your day (pun intended) with a few shots of what everyone will be enjoying.



A friend of mine Gourmet magazine once told me people “eat with their eyes”. Don’t know that I totally agree but it’s certainly a key part of the gastronomical experience. The best caterers know this. So do you or you wouldn’t have spent some much time thinking about it. What’s more eye friendly than a nice photograph of great food?


Besides, it often is something very personal. These cup cakes were made by a family friend. The little boxes were a very special favor, individually made and packaged by a very special aunt.
Cupcake Cake
Pictures evoke memories. I remember this steak. I eat a lot of wedding dinners but these little gems were served at a Maine inn famous for it’s fine food. It was the best steak I’ve ever eaten . . . and I remember what it tasted like.
Steak Waiter
However, not every wedding has gourmet food. That doesn’t matter. While not everybody has a “Bubba” cooking at their wedding, you’ll probably have something equivalent. Bubba’s as perfect as the great steak above . . . and sets the tone for this backyard bash. Remember my “flavor” comment?
BubbaSteak Fire
Food can be serious or whimsical. So tell your photographer to pay attention to it. However, have him/her avoid the chewing part. I concentrate on the fun that happens with and around food. People are usually relaxed and concentrating on what they are eating. Makes for good photographs. So with a little care your photographer capture the fun without the mess.
Little Girl

Buffet KissCupcake Eyes
Now I haven’t talked about the wedding cake. That’s a complex tradition which continues to be a major ritual in today’s weddings. Even the simplest approach to a cake can be lovely. However, if you want a great picture of your cake, put it where it has beautiful light. A competent photographer can capture a pretty cake in most any light but great light makes for more memorable pictures.
CupcakeCake LightCake SunsetCake Roses
Oh yes, while a formal picture of a pristine cake is always part of the coverage, a little ‘after the ritual’ shot is often very poignant reminder of what has gone before.
Chocolate CakeWhite Cake
So the take away thought here is that after you’ve given your photographer your “must have” shot list, gently remind her/him that there’s lots of planning gone into whats being eaten and you want some of it memorialized.

Food for thought.

About the Author:

Dan Derby, Wedding Photographer

The spirit of a wedding day lives in fleeting events, unfolding without direction. Wedding photojournalism is how the story of a wedding day can be captured artfully. Trained as a designer (BA & MFA) and skilled in visual story telling, Dan Derby works quietly throughout your wedding day making sure this happens. He is based in New England but travels where ever he’s needed.

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