A question we get asked often- who do I have to tip and how much? When you are spending approximately one zillion dollars (or at least it feels like it) on this big event it feels like adding insult to injury to have to dish out even MORE the last couple of days.
Here are a few simple rules we go by…
1. There is “wedding world” and then there is the “real world”. The real world existed back when you weren’t engaged and all your thoughts didn’t revolve around guest lists and pinterest…do you remember that world? It’s ok, you’ll return soon. Rule #1 is anyone you would tip in the real world should get tipped at your wedding. For example: you go get your hair done in the real world and you should tip your hairstylist in wedding world. This applies for drivers, and of course catering staff (more on catering in a minute).
2. Wedding-specific vendors- photographers, coordinators, DJ’s etc.- don’t count on tips. They set their prices based on NOT making tips unlike those “real world” vendors. Tipping your wedding-specific vendors is totally optional and should be based on whether or not they truly deserve it! Did your DJ go above and beyond during planning, giving you an extra venue walk through to ease your mind? Did your photographer arrive an extra hour early on wedding day to make sure they got all those pretty shoe shots? They probably deserve a tip. So you want to tip your wedding vendors- they really appreciate it! But how much? You do NOT need to tip 20%. Let’s be real…your photographer cost you 3 grand! Anywhere between $50-$200 is perfectly acceptable for these wedding specific vendors.
3. Tips don’t have to be money! I have received sweet gifts like hand written notes, gift cards, bottles of wine etc. Gifts are also a great way to tip “friendors” in the situations where giving them money is awkward. Another tip that every vendor will appreciate post-wedding…a really great review online! Reviews help their business and to receive a really good one- especially unsolicited- is the best feeling.
4. OK…Catering. This one can be confusing and while you don’t want to stiff those hard working servers, you certainly don’t want to overpay on your biggest wedding cost. Check out your contract…if it includes anything 18% or above as a “service fee” that probably includes tip. A 3 or 4% administrative fee is going straight to office expenses or commission to the sales person you did your tasting with. Also- catering servers usually make more per hour than your local restaurant servers- so again, 20% isn’t always necessary- $50 per server might be perfect. With so many different types of catering these days (what about food trucks!) my best advice is to flat out ASK your contact.
5. How do you prepare and distribute these tips? If there are people you know you want to tip ahead of time, put cash in envelopes and give them to your coordinator to distribute at the end of the night. That being said- don’t be afraid to wait til after the wedding! I have seen couples give tips ahead of time and to be quite honest- the vendor didn’t deserve it. You may be surprised at the end of the night who really pulled through or went above and beyond! A thank you note with cash a week after the wedding is a wonderful surprise and can mean even more than a obligatory tip.