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Wedding Vendor Tipping

Photo: @monnetteco

Hey guys, today we're going to talk about one of the most common questions that I get asked by my clients as their wedding day gets closer.

And that is, "what wedding vendors do we need to tip?" Now, there are many different variables that can come into play, but I can share some general advice and suggestions for what to consider when putting together your vendor gratuities. There are going to be some vendors that require a gratuity for their staff. Most often, this is going to be written into your contract and added to the final balance.

These vendors typically include your caterer and/or reception venue, transportation, and your hair and makeup team. So 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 that you're responsible for. After that, gratuities can be considered for those vendors that have really helped you make your day special.

The unwritten rule is that if the vendor works for someone else, for example, a photographer shooting for a larger company or a DJ that, again, works for a larger company, it's more common to give them a gratuity than those that are the actual owners of the company. In my personal opinion, if you're grateful for that person's role in your big day, it's never a bad thing to show them your appreciation.

However, if you've had issues or concerns, you don't need to feel pressured to give them a gratuity if it's not part of the contract. If you're unsure if you want to give a certain vendor a tip, or maybe somebody really shines on your wedding day but you didn't have anything prepared for them, you can definitely mail a gratuity, thank you card, or a small gift after the wedding.

So let's list out the vendors that commonly expect a tip: the catering team, including bartenders and wait staff, hair and makeup, your transportation company, if you have an officiant or if you're working with a church, and ceremony musicians or live musicians are often in the category of vendors that expect some kind of gratuity or tip after their service.

Wedding vendors that are considered part of the optional category would be your photographer and videographer, your DJ or band, your wedding planner, your baker, florist, photo booth or other entertainers, rental companies, and your venue coordinators. Now, again, this is just the very general rule and I'm a strong believer that a gratuity is really a sign of appreciation for their service. Now that we've talked about what vendors to tip, let's talk about how much do you tip your vendors.

Again, if there are vendors that have a required gratuity, make sure to check your contracts. It's often outlined there how much the gratuity will be. And just a reminder, if you haven't checked out episode 16 of the podcast, Wedding Catering 101, the gratuity, service fees, and taxes often are not included as a part of your food and beverage minimum.

Just make sure that you're looking at those fine line items as you're going through those contracts. If there's nothing outlined in regards to how much of a gratuity is required or suggested within your contracts, the only real protocol would be that standard 15% to 20% that you see commonly at restaurants, and the rest of the hospitality world.

However, if you paid $4,000 for a photographer, they're definitely not expecting a $600 to $800 gratuity. If they've really blown you away and you want to give them that size of a gratuity, I'm sure they would appreciate it. But I typically recommend you consider how much this vendor has helped you throughout the planning process. Anywhere between $450 to $200 would definitely be appropriate and on par with what I've seen in the past.

So if you've really appreciated the help of your day of coordinator, and you want to give them an extra hundred dollars on the day of the wedding to show your appreciation, that would definitely be appropriate. Now, what if your budget just doesn't allow for you to give out the cash gratuities that you would really like? There are definitely some alternative ways that you can show your appreciation without breaking your budget.

For instance, 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 a bottle for them along with a nice thank you note, and that will really help show them how much you value their help. Another great way to show your appreciation without spending any additional money is to leave reviews on sites like WeddingWire or TheKnot.

You can also make sure to tag them in social media posts after the wedding and make sure to recommend them to family and friends. These last two items might seem simple, but I can tell you as a small business owner, often these referrals and positive reviews can go a lot further than even the most generous tip.

And one last tip on vendor tips: for those tips that you know you'll be giving out on the day of the wedding, I recommend that you put them in individual envelopes and mark them with who they are designated for. You can give these to your day of coordinator to pass out or somebody in your wedding party. But if things get a bit too crazy on the wedding day and it is overlooked, again, you can definitely follow up after the wedding day. All vendors love getting a thank you card from their clients! And if there is a little extra bonus in there afterwards, they will definitely appreciate that.

Do you have any vendors that you're unsure about whether or not you need to give them a tip? Head on over to the Wedding Planning Collective Facebook Group and we can chat about it.


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