One of the most common questions we get as our clients wedding day gets closer is what wedding vendors should we tip. While there are many different variables that can come into play, I wanted to share some general advice and suggestions for what to consider when putting together your vendor gratuities.
First, there are of course some vendors that require a gratuity for their staff, and most often this is written into your contract and added to the final balance. These vendors usually include your caterer or reception venue, transportation, and beauty team. Make sure to check your contracts with these vendors to see if your gratuity has already been included, or if there is a required amount you are responsible for. Outside of that, gratuities should be considered for those vendors who have helped you make your day special. The most general summary I can share, is that if the vendor is working for someone else (for example, a photographer shooting for a larger company), it is more common to give them a gratuity. If they are the owner of the company, it is less common to give them a gratuity. My personal opinion, if you’re grateful for that persons role in your big day, it’s never a bad thing to show your appreciation! If you have had issues or concerns, don’t feel the need to give them a gratuity.
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Now, how much do you tip? The only real “protocol” would be the standard 15-20% that you would consider in the rest of the hospitality world. However, if you paid $4,000 for a photographer, they are definitely not expecting a $600-800 gratuity. What I typically recommend is to consider how much this vendor assisted you throughout the planning, and anywhere between $50-200 would be appropriate. Your budget might not allow for you to tip all the vendors you would like to, so as an alternative you can consider a different thank you to show your appreciation. If you know your DJ loves a certain kind of beer, or your photographer loves a good glass of wine, pick up a case or bottle as a thank you for them. Pair this with a nice thank you card and review of their services online, and they will be very grateful!
One other note to make while we’re talking about vendors and wedding day payments is about any final payments that you might need to make. While most of your vendors will require final payment in full well before the wedding day, some will allow you to make these last payments on the day of. I strongly recommend that you take care of these payments beforehand anyway, most won’t have an issue with this. The reason is, if you or whoever has been designated to pass out the gratuities gets distracted and forgets, it’s not uncommon to mail them to the vendors after the wedding. Final payments, however, are required, and it’s no fun for anyone to have a limo driver or DJ ask you in front of your wedding party or guests for money. It’s much easier to just take care of it beforehand to avoid any inconvenient or embarrassing moments on the wedding day.