While the journey to “I do” is filled with decisions and details, an often-overlooked aspect of wedding planning deserves the spotlight: tipping and gratuity.
These aren’t just financial transactions; they’re expressions of gratitude for the hard work and expertise that each vendor brings to your day.
From the photographer capturing those fleeting moments to the caterer crafting an unforgettable feast, a dedicated team of professionals ensures your special day runs seamlessly.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll demystify the world of wedding tipping. Keep reading to discover whom to tip, when and how to do it, and uncover alternative ways to show appreciation.
Understanding Wedding Tipping
There are hundreds of moving parts (and people) behind the scenes that are the key ingredient to a successful event. From the chef in the kitchen who you may never actually see to your photographers who have worked tirelessly for 10 straight hours capturing all the special moments throughout the day.
Understanding wedding tipping can sometimes be perplexing. Which vendors do you tip? How much is appropriate? When and how should you do it?
Let’s break down the basics and get a clear picture of this often misunderstood aspect of wedding planning.
Whom to Tip
Key Wedding Vendors: Certain wedding vendors are central to the success of your big day, and they should be at the top of your tipping list. These typically include:
- Photographer and Videographer
- Caterer and Waitstaff
- Ceremony Musicians
- Reception Band or DJ
- Onsite Venue Coordinator
- Hair and Makeup Artists
- Bridal Attendant
- Onsite Planning and Design team
Factors to Consider When Deciding How Much to Tip
Determining the appropriate amount for tips can be a bit tricky, as it depends on various factors:
Budget Considerations: It’s important to understand that tipping is not based on a percentage of the overall cost of the wedding or services. It’s a self-selected amount you choose as a gesture of your appreciation for their hard work.
Industry Standards: It’s helpful to research industry standards for tipping in your region. These can vary widely, so understanding local norms can guide your decisions. Your wedding planner will be happy to create a vendor list with tip range recommendations.
Tipping is not required, and vendors are not working for tips at your wedding. But giving one is a nice way to say, “Thank you for making my wedding more successful than I could have imagined!”
When it comes to when and how to distribute the tips, they typically get handed out on the wedding day (we recommend the end of the night). But it’s wise to have envelopes with the vendors’ names and the designated amounts ready in advance. You can entrust your planner to distribute the tips on your behalf.
The benefit of having cash ready in envelopes is that you can adjust your tipping plan. Vendors may go above and beyond or face challenges during the event. Whatever the case, your wedding planner (who has eyes on everything!) can easily remove or add to your tip to reflect the circumstances.
Tipping Guidelines for Specific Wedding Vendors
Tipping is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Different vendors play unique roles in bringing your wedding vision to life, so their tipping guidelines can vary.
As we work together on this aspect of wedding planning, we’ll send you specific guidelines based on who your vendors are. But to help you understand what it might look like, let’s explore some examples.
Photographer and Videographer: A typical tip ranges from $150-250 per person (lead and second photographer/videographer), especially if they go above and beyond or provide additional services like extended coverage.
Caterers and Waitstaff: We suggest giving the catering captain one lump sum to be distributed accordingly among the staff. And ask your wedding planner for guidelines on how much to include depending on the number of staff.
Musicians: A tip of $100-200 per band member (plus the sound technician) is an adequate range. For a DJ, $200-500; ceremony musicians, $75-100 per musician.
Hair and Makeup Artists: Like hairstylists and makeup artists in other settings, a tip of 10% to 20% of their fee is a good starting point.
Officiant – It is not uncommon to invite the officiant to join guests for cocktails and dinner. Or you could consider a tip ranging from $150 – $250.
Bridal Attendant – This is a vendor we highly recommend having on the wedding day team and should be considered on your list of vendors to to tip in the range of $150 – $250.
On Site Coordinator – Many venues have an on-site coordinator who is there behind the scenes in case there are any specific issues related to the venue from power to plumbing. A tip in the range of $100 is always appreciated
On-Site Wedding Planning and Design Team – We suggest checking with your wedding planner to find out how many people will be on their team for the day. Depending on the size of the wedding or complexity of the logistics, there could be as many as five individuals putting in the 14+ hour day from setup to breakdown.
Alternative Ways to Show Appreciation
While tipping is a common way to express gratitude to your wedding vendors, it’s not the only way. Alternative methods to convey your appreciation can be just as meaningful.
Consider these creative ways to show your thankfulness to the professionals who make your special day extraordinary:
Personalized Thank-You Notes: Craft heartfelt, handwritten thank-you notes for each vendor. Personalize the messages by mentioning specific moments or details you loved about their service. These notes become cherished keepsakes for vendors.
Online Reviews and Testimonials: Share your positive experiences with vendors by writing glowing reviews on Yelp, Google, or wedding-specific websites. Your words can help their business thrive.
Thoughtful Gifts: Consider giving your vendors a small, meaningful gift as a token of appreciation. This could be something related to their profession or a personalized item that shows you thought of them individually.
Food and Beverage: Order sandwiches or pastries for the setup team to enjoy. A well-fed vendor is a happy vendor, and this small gesture can go a long way in showing your gratitude.
Recommendation: If you are thrilled with a vendor’s services, recommend them to friends, family, and colleagues who may be planning weddings in the future.
Dealing With Tipping Challenges
While tipping is a common practice to show appreciation to wedding vendors, it can sometimes present challenges or uncertainties.
Here’s how to navigate some common tipping challenges that may arise during your wedding planning process:
Tipping Business Owners vs. Employees:
Challenge: Understanding whether to tip the owner of a business (e.g., a photographer who owns their studio).
- Determine the Norm: Start by researching industry norms in your area. Some couples choose to tip business owners less than employees, while others tip both equally. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
- Ask for Guidance: If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to ask your wedding planner for guidance. They can provide clarity on their preferences.
- Consider Quality of Service: Ultimately, the quality of service may influence the decision. If the business owner goes above and beyond, you might choose to tip them generously.
Gratuity Included in the Contract – Should You Tip Extra?
Challenge: When your vendor contracts include a service charge or gratuity, you may wonder whether providing additional tips is necessary.
- Understand What Gratuity Means: A service charge or gratuity is NOT considered a tip. These fees are automatically added to your contract and aren’t reflective of how well a vendor performs. Tips, on the other hand, are a show of gratitude. They are your way of saying thank you for a job well done.
- Read Contracts Carefully: Review your vendor contracts to understand what the service charge covers. It might already account for tips for the employees.
- Discuss with Planner: If you have any questions on whether or not gratuity is included, ask your wedding planner. They will be happy to review the contracts. If a tip is included, it is usually clearly stated at Tip/Gratuity included on the contract.
Handling Unexpected Situations or Subpar Service:
Challenge: If a vendor delivers subpar service or faces unforeseen challenges during your wedding, you might question whether tipping is still appropriate.
Let your wedding planner handle it! Since they have eyes on all the moving parts, they will be the first to notice substandard service and will typically return the tip envelope to you or distribute it at their discretion to vendors who went above and beyond.
One Last Tip on Tipping
While wedding tipping may seem like a small detail in the grand scheme of your wedding, it’s an essential gesture of appreciation for the professionals who make your dream day a reality.
Enlisting the services of a wedding planner can simplify the process, ensuring your gratitude is expressed gracefully and that your wedding day is an unforgettable experience for all the right reasons.
Contact us, and let us help you navigate the world of wedding tipping with ease and confidence.