The key word here is "expected"! And my thoughts on this as a professional photographer who has photographed 1,000 weddings is NO! You should not be expected to feed them, but I promise you they will very much appreciate it if you do, and it could be beneficial to you. If you choose not to feed them then you should expect them to be able to find an out of the way spot in the back of the venue to eat the packed lunch or dinner that they brought. Let me clarify here I am talking about weddings where the vendor is there for 8-12 hours for the day (not someone who is only at the wedding/event for 5 or less hours). As a professional photographer I have never had a bride tell me they were not able to feed me at the event, I have always chosen to make sure that every guest has been fed first and my team has always eaten in shifts. This allows us to always be ready to photograph something that might pop up unexpectedly. You should also be very careful and review each vendors contract because some will put it in the wording that they demand to be fed. Totally unacceptable to me but some people will feel entitled. If you choose to feed your vendors and can keep them at a back table in the same room as you and your guest it will make their job easier and better be able to serve you.
When should they eat?
This is a question that can be kind of up in the air, since every wedding’s timeline is a little different. However, it’s always a good idea for your vendors to eat while you and your guests are eating. There’s usually not too much happening in which the photographer would have to capture photos or your DJ would have to emcee anything. Try real hard to make sure they eat during that time, because if they don’t, they might not get a chance to eat the rest of the evening! It also helps to let your caterer/venue know that you want your vendors to receive their meals during guest dinner time.
Where should they eat?
This is another one that’s up in the air, because it’s dependent on the vendor, what kind of wedding you’re having, your space, etc. If your vendors don’t care where they eat, it’s best to have them eating in a location that is close to where your dinner is taking place. Being up 2 floors is not the best idea. Usually a venue will have an extra room close to your reception where they will put the vendors’ meals- ask them if they have a recommendation.