A Few guidelines on Tipping your Wedding Vendors
“How much should I tip my wedding vendors?”
This is a question I am asked all of the time by my clients, and to be honest, it’s a difficult one to answer, but I thought it would be helpful to blog on a few tips on tipping your wedding vendors.
For starters, it is important to know that the servers and bartenders at your wedding are paid an hourly rate typically between 12.00-20.00 per hour, which is significantly more than a waiter at a restaurant.
In my opinion, there is also a difference between a tip and gratuity. A tip is the automatic 15-20% we add to the restaurant bill, or the change we give to the barista at Starbucks. Gratuity on the other hand, is an expression of gratitude. Gratuity is the money you put in the street musicians hat, in appreciation for the music they provide, or the 5.00-10.00 you give the the bell captain for helping you with your luggage.
So, my recommendation is you are not required to tip your vendors at all. However, if you feel that any of your vendors have added to your overall experience, above and beyond what would be expected, then you may want to consider offering a gratuity.
The vendors that are hands on at your wedding are the ones you could consider. This would include; your photographer, videographer, musicians, headwaiter, chef, hair and makeup stylists, and well, yes, your wedding planner.
I personally have received gifts, thank you notes, money, and sometimes a fabulous hug and a sincere thank you. They all feel good, but are certainly not expected.
Whether or not your vendors are the owners of their company or employees, should not make a difference, you also do not need to tip the entire team, every server or each band member. The gratuity should go to the lead person of each team ie: headwaiter, bandleader,lead photographer…they will disburse the gratuity as they seem fit for each member of their team.
Some clients like to give gratuity at the beginning of the event because they feel it will help “encourage” good service. I feel that gratuities should be given at the end of the event, to recognize exceptional service. I also recommend you organize your gratuity in envelopes prior to the wedding and give the envelopes to your wedding coordinator to distribute. He or she may have a better ” behind the scenes” view of who really went above and beyond, and who maybe did not. I’m a real stickler when it comes to not rewarding mediocre performance.
Ok, so what is the right amount of gratuity. It’s not a percentage, it really comes down to what you feel is appropriate. It should not be based on the fee you paid for each vendor. for example, if you hired a band for $8,000.00 you certainly wouldn’t give them 20% – again it is a gratuity, a thank you, not a “tip”
Here is a range.
- DeeJay – 100.00 – 200.00
- Band – 200.00 – 500.00
- Photographer with second photographer – 100.00 – 300.00
- Head Server – 100.00 – 200.00
- Head Chef – 100.00 – 200.00
- Hair and Makeup 40.00 – 75.00
- Videographer – 50.00-100.00
- Transportation/Drivers – 25.00-50.00 ( gratuity is often included in their contract so be sure to double check this in advance)
- Bartenders – 25.00 – 50.00
- Wedding Planner – your discretion
Of course, this does add up to a significant amount of money (800.00-1,500.00) and you have probably already made a significant financial investment, so I want to assure you, a thank you note or follow up email, truly goes a very long way.