To Tip... Or Not to Tip?
Welcome back friends! Over the last few days, we have received a remarkable amount of questions from our Wedding clients regarding Vendor tipping. To some this may seem silly, "Why would I pay them more for doing their job when I already paid so much to hire them?" while others find it an expectation, "Why wouldn't I tip? If my 'vendor' is outstanding, they deserve it!" As always, it's completely up to the couple (or whomever is paying for the event, mind you) if tipping is something that should be part of the event budget or not.
In my experience, tipping has become somewhat scarce in today's society. With event budgets getting tighter and tighter and with vendor pricing getting higher and higher, it's not all too surprising. The vendors I have had the pleasure of working with share this notion that "tipping is dead," but the hope of exceeding everyone's expectations and earning a little something extra will always remain. It's becoming increasingly harder and harder for small businesses to stay afloat without shooting their prices sky high and driving clients away or devaluing their products or services by lowering them to attempt attracting more. But any who, after doing some research (and based on my experience with Wedding Vendors) here is a nifty guide to help you decide whether or not tipping is for you!
This vendor can be tricky. Customarily it is expected that you tip your On-site Coordinator, Banquet Captain/Manager, Bartender (if employed through the Venue) and any staff you deem exceeded your expectations. Tipping these vendors can range anywhere from 10-20% depending on the specifics and total of your Food/Beverage bill. However! With this being said, double check your contract with the Venue. It is becoming more and more common for Venues to automatically charge a gratuity in your contract total; which means you do not need to tip again!
Another thing to watch out for is making sure these employees are allowed to take tips. Bartenders are a gimme, but in most cases, the other staff of the Venue are not classified as 'tipped employees' through their employer and therefore are unable to accept tips even if you want to give it to them. Have a chat with the Venue manager if tipping is a must for you.
Wedding Planner/Day-Of Coordinator
Tipping your Wedding Planner or Day-Of Coordinator is purely optional. While they both work extremely hard to ensure very detail and every puzzle piece fits snugly in place to make your dreams and visions come to life, it's not expected by any means (we would know!)
Wedding Planners, us included, typically charge a percentage based on the intricacy, expectations and budget of the event. Wedding Planners, on average charge around 20-25%, (we charge 15%)or more, of the total wedding budget (we'll have a post about how pricing is explained later, don't worry) so it is expected that they would charge a reasonable amount for the services they provide without expecting more. Some may also include an automatic gratuity in their contract, similar to how venues do, so you don't have to worry about it, while others probably don't even think about earning tips. So again, everyone is different, check your contracts and ask questions! If you were to tip your Wedding Planner, anywhere from 10-50% of your contracted rate would be appropriate; or even a nice gift such as photos for their portfolio. In our opinion, the best tip is a raving review of your time spent with us.
Now for a Day-Of Coordinator, it is a little more common to tip. They are working hard to put all those intricate details together and making your vision become reality. They are the fairy-godmothers of the wedding world, if you will. While some charge an automatic gratuity, (check your contract!)many don't think about getting tipped the day of your wedding. If this were something you felt adamant about, it would be appropriate to tip between 15-25% of your contracted total balance.
Now in this day and age, just about anyone can officiate a wedding, (it's awesome!) so tipping is probably not necessary when it comes to your best friend or cousin. However if you hire and officiant, and it's not included in the contract, it is expected to give some sort of tip. For a church oriented Officiant, it is customary to give a donation to the affiliated church ranging from $100-500, or as you see fit. For non-religious officiants, you can tip anywhere from $50-100 at your discretion.
While they may seem to play a very insignificant role for a very short amount of time, you can't get married without them! So if they make your ceremony extra special and bring a special charm to your wedding, let them know with a nice tip.
Tipping your Musicians and DJ is completely optional but preferred. It depends on the intricacy of your event (locations, preferred music style, etc.) but typically they don't expect any other compensation.
With that being said, we always recommend tipping live musicians. This is their livelihood and lugging all those instruments around can get expensive! The hope is that your guests will tip them $1 for any requests, but if they blow their regularly scheduled performance out of the water and really wow you and your guests, they deserve much more! Depending on the size of your band or musician group, it's reasonable to tip $35-45 per musician and believe me they will truly appreciate it!
When it comes to DJ's or MC's, tipping is more infrequent. Most charge based on the music you request and have a built in gratuity or it's simply part of their pricing structure. But if your DJ really performs well, gets your guests involved and does more than you ever hoped for, tip 'em. Anywhere from $50-150 depending on the specifics of their employment is average to tip a DJ. If they have to move their gear from one place to another or do any outlandish requests, I recommend tipping on the higher side; they worked hard!
While most Photographers/Videographers don't expect a tip, it's definitely appreciated and warranted should they exceed your photography/videography visions. Generally, you won't really know how well your Photography/Videography vendor did until a little while after the Wedding is over, apart from how pleasant they were to work with and see in action the day-of. In that case you have two tipping options:
1) If you absolutely love your vendor, they are a blast to work with, and you know their work will be fantastic no matter what, go ahead and tip them the Day-Of. Anywhere from $50-200 per photographer/ videographer is about average.2) If you loved your vendor but really aren't familiar with their work, you can always wait until they send you the final project to determine if you want to tip or not. If you decide to tip, $50-200 per staff member is still appropriate but instead you can send it with a thank you note and surprise them with your print order!
Last but certainly not least, your Transportation vendor will expect a tip after your event has ended. Whether it be Valet parking, a guest shuttle or otherwise, your drivers are the only way yo and your guests can get around safely and thus deserve a generous tip.
While it's very common to see gratuity added into a contract with Transportation vendors, it is always good to double check and be prepared if it's not. As long as your vendor is on time, genuinely pleasant to you and your guests and doesn't get lost, it's reasonable to tip about 15-20% of your contracted total to that company.
However if you have different companies with only one driver (shuttle, limo, or otherwise) I recommend tipping each driver about 10%-15% depending on their involvement in your event.
Since every Wedding is unique, you may have more vendors than those we have listed. If that's the case and you want to tip them, it's best to base it on a percentage of their contracted services. 10-20% is average and perfectly acceptable in the tipping world. You can always compare their services to other listed above and tip according to their similarities. While tipping is always appreciated by vendors, it is never required. You know your budget better than anyone, so any decent vendor won't be upset if you are unable to tip an extraordinary amount. You also know your vendors (hopefully!) and will witness their work first hand; if they don't meet your needs and expectations, you do not need to feel obligated to tip.
The goal for vendors is to create the most memorable day of your life in an easy, seamless, magical sort of way, with the hope that you will love and recommend them to others. Finding Vendors like this can be very hard with overly saturated vendor markets, but know if they don't spark that magic from the beginning of your partnership, they may not be the best fit for when it really counts.
I hope this guide will ease any questions or concerns when it comes to tipping your wedding vendors! Be open and honest with your vendors and they will (hopefully) do the same!
Thanks for reading! See you next week!