Tipping Your Vendors/Staff

The two most common questions that I get from my wedding and party planners is “Which vendors do I tip? And how much?” The downturned economy has made this concept even more touchy considering that you’re writing some pretty significant checks for services & products and then to think “You want MORE?!” on top of that becomes daunting. Unfortunately, there is no straight answer but there are easy guidelines to follow.

Quick Reference
When you go out to dinner, you tip your waiter or waitress, right (barring any major issues)? You will use the same tactic to determine your level of happiness with your vendor service in the same way that you would calculate a tip for your waiter after dinner.

Here are some tips and suggestions to clarfiy the role of “The Tip”.

Quick Answer
Q: Who do I give a tip to?
A: Everyone involved (including: officiant, coordinator, florist, DJ, hair & makeup, limo driver, etc.)

Q: How much do I pay?
A: 10-20%

The Not-So-Quick Answer
How much you pay a vendor depends on how much you loved their service/product. If that vendor made your planning process easy, maybe saved you money in the long-run, and was a joy to work with, you might tip her 20%. If you were satisfied with her service but she didn’t go above and beyond, you might tip her 13 or 15%. And so on…

If you tip less, that doesn’t mean that you didn’t appreciate their service but that’s maybe all that you can afford – especially in this economy. And if you decide not to tip at all or only tip 10%, send them a raving testimonial/thank-you, that will show that you appreciated their service as well.

Special Considerations
Catering staff – check your contract to see if they have already accounted for a tip in your estimate (usually 15-20%). If it’s NOT included in the contract you can either pay 15%-20% of your total catering cost or you can pay the staff individually (which requires more planning on your part – $100-$200 for the banquet captain, $50 for each chef, $30+ for each server/bartender.

Photographer/DJ/Coordinator/Florist – Some wedding websites say that photographers, DJs, florists, coordinators, etc. who own their own business do not require a tip because it’s built into their pricing – this is not the case, in my experience. A tip is a sign of your appreciation of their services and isn’t ever expected but always appreciated – especially if you got a lot of value from their service. The 15-20% rule applies here.

Hair/Make-Up, etc. – 10-20% depending on how much you loved your service.

I suggest giving tips in cash. Or, if you don’t want to carry around a bunch of cash or a tip is unplanned, you can write a check to Cash and that vendor can then take it to the bank and get the cash.

You will want to put any tips that you decide to give out into envelopes that are pre-labeled with their name or their role in the wedding (ex: For John Smith OR For Officiant). You can give those envelopes to your wedding coordinator at the beginning of the day and s/he will distribute the envelopes to the vendors. This is true for any final payments as well.

Be Sure to…
… send a follow-up Thank You email or note to all of your vendors. If you had a mediocre experience (not bad, but not great), tell them that you were happy with their service and appreciated their time on the day of the event. If you had a terrible experience, be SURE to tell them – it may be awkward at first but both of you will be grateful in the end. If they did a stellar job and you would recommend them to a friend – tell them that! Getting a rave review is one of my favorite things about my job!

Thank you for taking the time to consider tipping your vendors – they will appreciate you being appreciative!

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