One of the more controversial topics discussed in many wedding threads and on many wedding websites is that of tipping your service providers. After much research and study I have found that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to tipping. Where one person will disagree with what I say others will find what I say enlightening and good advice.
Tipping someone is a way of acknowledging the excellent service they provided for you. Your wedding should be no different. I know weddings can be expensive and tipping your service providers becomes an after thought. I mean many times we think to ourselves, “If they wanted a tip they would have just included it in their price” or “I am not tipping them, I already spent $XX on their services.” Tipping someone is not law and many vendors do not expect it. However, Many times we get so caught up in the day that we forget to acknowledge all the people who made it possible.
The Oxford dictionary defines a tip as a small sum of money given to someone for performing a service. Many wedding professionals do not expect a tip. However, when it comes to tipping one rule of thumb is did that vendor go above and beyond the call of duty?
Ever wonder who, how and when you should tip? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone – not even close. Most of us take a guess at the amount and hope that we are thought of as a generous person rather than a cheapskate.
When creating your wedding budget it is suggested that you set money aside for tipping your service providers. This way you have already figured it into your budget so you won’t feel like you are having to spend money you were not planning on spending in the first place.
Here are just a few guidelines/suggestions to consider if and when you plan on tipping at your wedding.
Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Beautician – Plan to tip them just as you would for any regular appointment. 15-20% is typically the norm. If they have assistants helping them another $3 – $5 per assistant is considered a good tip.
Photo by~Fairytale Hair & Make-up
Officiants, Clergy, Ministry – Many times officiants do not ask to be paid, let alone tipped. If they are performing your service for free it is suggested that you make an extra donation to the church. If your wedding is performed by a civil employee such as a judge, clerk, or other nonreligious official, then forgo a gratuity. Such officiants are paid a flat rate and are usually not permitted to accept tips or donations — local law may actually prohibit it. A thoughtful card, however, is always appreciated. There are some officiants who are not tied to a church or a government and in their case tipping would be accepted. Typically about 10-15% is standard.
Transportation (chauffeurs, limousine drivers, horse-drawn carriages, etc) – Many times these vendors will include a gratuity directly into their bill. If they do not or if you want to reward them even more for their service on your wedding day then the norm is to tip them 15%-20% of the total cost of the bill. If your wedding has run late and you are keeping them longer than originally planned or if the driver has gone above and beyond for you it is highly encouraged to give them a great tip.
Photography by~Swensen Photography
Chauffeured Vintage car by~Something Vintage Something Blue
Catering/Venue Manager – Traditionally the caterers and venue management will calculate a tip into their cost estimate, in the form of a service charge. Many times this tip is divided up amongst the staff that has helped out with the event. However, if this isn’t the case it is it is highly encouraged to tip at least 15%. Keep in mind that it isn’t just the head caterer but the Chefs who prepared the food, the servers who attended to your guests needs and the other staff that supported the team. Make sure that all who helped get a piece of the pie (no pun intended).
Photo by~Silver Whisk Catering
Photographer or Videographer – Typically you do not need to tip your photographer or videographer. However, the same rule applies with other traditional non-tipping services. If they do a fantastic job go ahead and give them a tip. If they do not own the business it is especially considerate to tip them $50 bucks or so.
Wedding Band or DJ – Tipping bands and DJ’s is not generally expected but is always welcomed. If you do plan on tipping band members $20-$25 per member is a nice tip. If you plan on tipping your DJ $50 – $100 is a recommended. Again if the DJ doesn’t own the business it is always nice to tip them.
Photography by~Tiny Comet
Delivery and Set up Staff - This includes, florists, cake vendors, decorators etc. – While you don’t need to tip the florist or cake designer or head decorator directly many times someone else will deliver the flowers or cakes and it is always wise to tip them for their service. A tip of $5 for the delivery is considered a nice tip and for the staff that helped set up and decorate your event $5-$10 per person is a good gratuity.
Photo by~Design Elite
Wedding Planners / Designers – Most wedding planners wouldn’t expect a tip. However, the rule again applies if they do a fantastic job 10% of their bill or commissions is considered a good tip.
There are obviously other services that can be provided at your wedding. Covering every little service could and would take forever. Assign a trusted person (best man, father of the bride or groom etc) to handle the tipping so you can focus on your wedding and your guests.
One thing most wedding vendors would agree on is that tips are not always expected but are very much appreciated. That being said there are other ways you can reward your vendors that may even mean more to them in the long run then just a tip. Here are just a few:
Thank you notes with a “testimonial” of the great service they provided – These notes can go a long way. Many vendors will use your comments for their advertising purposes. Plus it is nice to know that what they did was appreciated.
A Personal Letter of Recommendation - Even more than a thank you note a letter of recommendation is a more formal way of letting the world know that a particular vendor has your stamp of approval.
A Small Gift of Some Kind – Gift cards, small photo albums with pictures of the vendor doing their job, movie tickets etc.
Referrals – Probably more than anything a personal referral from you to a friend, co-worker or family member will go farther than anything. Referrals are the number one way for a wedding professional to build and grow their clientele. If you know of someone getting married make sure they know of the fantastic vendors who helped you with your wedding. Chances are above anything else referrals are the lifeblood of most wedding professionals business.
I hope this gives you some good thoughts and ideas. Remember while there is no law regarding any of this if you feel you were provided with exceptional service make sure the people providing the service are aware of how much you appreciate what they did for you.
That is through referrals and recommendations. Nothing means more to a wedding professional than loyalty and referrals from the people they worked with.
One piece of advice I would give to every bride is this. If you are keeping your vendors at your wedding longer than you had originally agreed upon make sure you do something extra special for these vendors. Do not take advantage of them. Yes it is your wedding day, but they have lives and families too. If you are keeping them at your wedding longer than you had agreed upon for any reason it is very important that you reward them in some form or another for going above and beyond. Also, if a vendor does something for you at no extra charge or if you receive a free service for whatever reason you will want to keep that in mind as you consider their tips.