That is the (big) question.
We all know that wedding vendors are instrumental to the success of your big day. But why are there so many gray areas when to comes to wedding planning? One of the subjects of heated debate is (surprise, surprise) tipping. Because of the conflicting views, we've decided to take it to the (Instagram) polls, and we were pretty surprised with the results! A whopping 89% of you said that tipping your wedding vendors is a must, while the tip averaged around 15%.
According to Tiana O'Neal from Salon Bella Vita, tipping is all at the client's discretion and based on service satisfaction. "That said, gratuity is greatly appreciated, and like most other service industries, 15 - 20% of the service price is customary." Megan Cary Styling & Makeup Artistry agrees: "Yes, definitely. Well, especially hair and makeup as if it's in a salon." Nancy Rice Artistry is of the opinion that they are a service provider, so a tip is greatly appreciated. "20% is customary."
The rental company Theoni Collection has a slightly different perspective: "By no means do we require or even expect a tip on a job. If the client believes our drivers go above and beyond, they have been known to receive one. We never go into a job automatically expecting one."
We also received a bunch of questions on this topic and decided to get more experts involved. Here are a few of your burning questions answered!
How do you show appreciation to your vendors?
"Tipping your vendors can feel like a lot of 'extra' - extra budgeting, thought, and calculation, and a lot of couples want to know if it's necessary. As a photographer and elopement planner, I will tell you I never expect to be tipped. Still, I always appreciate the extra thought that goes behind it. When you're working with people who aim to exceed your expectations, it's always a nice gesture to go above and beyond for them, too! Whether it's a gift basket, a gift card for a massage (let me tell you, we need those, ha!), or cash - I know I am so thankful for the thought and intention of those things. And of course, one of the best 'tips' you could give your vendors is a glowing review about how they truly made your day incredible!" - Ruthanne Z. (Photographer & Elopement Expert)
Which wedding vendors should you tip?
"The wedding industry is the provider of services and goods for a wedding. The industry is full of planners, caterers, photographers, videographers, florists, suit and dress shops, musicians, rental companies, stationery providers, hair and makeup artists, and many more professionals. The number of hours a particular vendor spends preparing for your special day will blow your mind - so many details and moving parts! So how could you possibly thank everyone for all their hard work before the wedding and on the wedding day? Tips and Reviews.
The number one question I get as a Wedding Planner when it comes to thanking a vendor is: 'Should I tip a vendor, and how much is appropriate?'
Let us get real for a second! Do a quick internet search "tipping vendors at a wedding." You will find hundreds (if not more) of blogs and information on correctly tipping your wedding vendors. You will find the breakdown by percentages or dollar amount, and you will also find information on who NOT to tip .... wait, WHAT? Tip some vendors but do not tip others? As if planning a wedding was not confusing and stressful enough, now you must figure out tipping?
We work with many clients who have a heart the size of the moon and others who will only tip because the contract 'made them' (yes, I have heard this!)
Every person working your wedding is eligible to be tipped. Now with that said, it should be mentioned some Catering vendors add in a line item on your proposal 'gratuity' with a percentage next to it. Why do caters do this? The employer will ensure the serving team gets tipped out for their hard work by paying the gratuity upfront. The difference between a gratuity and a tip is that gratuity is a fixed pre-paid amount. In contrast, a tip is a voluntary contribution to the hard work performed. Therefore, it is not necessary to tip a vendor who has already asked for a gratuity upfront.
So, who exactly do you tip? My suggestion is any vendor who worked your wedding, and you want to show appreciation. That is every service provider that contributed to your day. Look, weddings get expensive, and we know! But, do not worry so much about HOW MUCH to tip rather than the gesture of doing so. For example, I have seen a photographer get tipped anywhere from $25 all the way to $500. If you know you want to tip, your vendors work this into your budget from the beginning, so it is not stressful for you the week of the wedding.
Keep in mind, your budget is not the same as others, and some of your vendors may have asked for gratuity upfront. But my rule of thumb, if you had a good experience with the vendor and the vendor provided all promised services, thank them!
There are other ways to say THANK YOU to a vendor, in addition to tipping, like reviews. I think there is the whole idea that reviews should only be written when we are dissatisfied with services. This is not true! How many times have you wanted to visit a new restaurant in town or a new hair salon, but you weren't sure if you should try them out? What do you do? You go on a review search. You start looking for other people's guest experiences. You may even post something on your social media asking 'Has Anyone Visited...' wanting to get personal reviews. Reviews are so important for businesses to attract new business. And trust me, wedding vendors read their reviews! If you have a budget that may not allow for a heavy tip, try tipping and taking the time to write a fantastic review for the team that made your day wonderful. The biggest piece of advice I give all my clients is to not stress out about it! Tips are not expected but appreciated when they are presented." - She Said Yes Weddings (Wedding Planning)
Should you tip a photographer, and if so, what amount or percentage is reasonable?
"Tips are always nice but never expected. Especially because I never grew up with the tipping culture and think it's a very strange culture/tradition in general - we never expect our couples to tip. However, we never turn tips down and always appreciate the tips we receive but ultimately never assume or expect them. The amounts vary, and I can't really say there is a 'standard,' but the range is typically from $100 - $300 after an entire wedding day. Because it's a service we perform, I believe many couples feel better when they have a tip for us. It really does give us a little extra boost of energy at the end of the night, especially when it's accompanied by a sweet card or thank you note. We love receiving little notes and cards from our couples." - VILD Photography (Photography)
Who can give a tip to the vendors at the wedding? Your planner? Your parents?
"Selecting someone other than yourselves is key! You will be too occupied enjoying your wedding and could very easily forget to distribute the envelopes.
Asking your planner to distribute tip envelopes to your vendors is certainly the easiest option. Still, sometimes the parents feel it's their place to do this, and they would like the opportunity to thank the vendors themselves. If your parents are paying for a large portion of the wedding, ask them if they would like to distribute the tips. Some parents prefer to avoid this pressure, and others would be happy to gift your vendors. Just make sure the individual(s) you ask are not the forgetful type. In either of these cases, your vendors will be stoked!" - OFD Events (Wedding Planning)
Is the service charge the same as the tip?
"For D'lish Catering, the Service Charge or Production Fee (as we have recently started calling it) is not a tip.
The Service Charge/Production Fee goes into all the hours leading up to the event or behind the scenes. This orchestration includes the hours spent creating, planning, and editing contracts, ordering menu items/rentals, scheduling, and prepping the food for the event.
Our per-person pricing on the contract only includes day-of-event labor and food costs, but there is so much more that goes into the event before the event happens." - D'lish Catering (Catering)
Can you tip wedding vendors with a check?
"Tips are always so appreciated! I have never had anyone tip me with a check (although it would not be a problem). It's typically done with cash or Venmo." - Holly Fleur (Floral Design)
Do you tip on the entire amount of our catering bill (that includes extra fees and tax)), or do you just tip on the food pre-tax?
"We do not tip on the entire amount. We add a line item, "service charge," that includes tip, logistics, communication, travel, and planning. This charge is calculated at a percentage base on food cost/service alone. Taxes and extra fees are not calculated in this charge. We offer the customer the option to add a custom tip on top of the auto service charge if they would like. Our software offers this on a percentage base or custom amount." - Tahoe Fullers (Food Trucks & Catering)
How do vendors feel about being tipped with wine or a gift versus cash?
"I get tipped pretty often, and I'll decline it once, but if they insist, then I'll gladly accept! I, of course, appreciate it so much, but it's never expected. If someone is very gracious in tipping, I will select a photo and offer them a print as a returned favor. Getting tipped with wine isn't very common, but I have developed a film with a bride's wine before. I feel like it's a neat tie-in to their day!"- Calvin Hobson Photography (Photography)
When is the best time to tip a vendor during the wedding day?
"I would say anytime during the day is fine as long as it's in a sealed envelope with the vendor's name on it." - Reel Eyes Media (Videography)
More questions on tipping? Please don't be stingy; send them our way. Email your questions to [email protected] or slide into our Instagram DMs to get them answered.