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Box lunches: Friendly courtesy or shameful waste?

In recent years, many caterers, especially those that come with the venue, have begun offering their clients the option of providing their vendors with box lunches. The advantages are twofold: it assures that all the vendors will be "kept in line", meaning your guests won't have to see them filling up at the buffet; and it ensures that you won't run out of food because the vendors ate it all. But is this really what's going on here?

I deejayed a wedding at a "Castle" south of Tacoma a couple years ago. All the vendors were served box lunches, consisting of a cold sandwich, an apple, and a cookie. There may have been some potato chips in there as well. Basically, when you've seen one box lunch you've seen them all. As my assistant (who happened to be my wife on this particular occasion) and I were finishing our meal at an outdoor table away from the guests and wedding party, the Bride happened to stroll by. She was very friendly and asked if we'd had a chance to go through the buffet yet. We kind of did a double take before I politely declined, and thanked her for the box lunch. Apparently, she wasn't even aware that box lunches were being served to vendors. But here's the deal: when she got the bill, you can bet that she paid extra for them. So, instead of allowing the vendors to grab a plate and have a bit of food that was already there, thereby wasting less, this venue was charging her extra for food that wasn't really necessary, and that she hadn't even ordered to begin with.

All brides and grooms understand that providing a meal to their vendors, who may be putting in a 10-hour day, if not more, is just common decency. By suggesting that declining to purchase box lunches will result in their getting nothing to eat is, I think, nothing more than a cynical ploy to increase their profits.

So, if you are planning a wedding and the discussion turns to vendor meals and the caterer/venue suggests box lunches, make sure you ask them if this entails an additional cost, and if so is it really necessary? Do you really want to be the couple who would rather throw food away than provide your vendors with a warm meal?

I wouldn't think so.

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