When dealing with wedding vendors, few things can make a bride and groom as unsure of themselves as trying to figure out tipping.
If a gratuity is built into your contract, that’s an easy answer to your questions. But if you have to decide on your own, then when to tip, how to do it, and how much to give is not always straightforward.
To sort through the confusion, we have the low-down on tipping wedding vendors. Whether you want to acknowledge excellent service or simply say thanks for being part of my big day, these dos and don’ts will help you tip with as little stress and hassle as possible.
DO tip for exceptional service
Vendors put a lot of time into your event — we’re talking hours and hours beyond the time that you actually see them face to face. So if you’re pleased, it’s important to let them know that.
By the same token, if service was extremely poor or unsatisfactory, don’t be afraid to not tip. Hopefully, it will prompt your vendor to ask why you weren’t pleased and give them the chance to improve things for the next couple.
DON’T hand anyone a handful of cash
Giving vendors obvious cash tips could put their money in jeopardy, especially if they’re in the middle of working and don’t have the time to put it somewhere safe.
The best way to tip discreetly? Put it in an envelope with their name on it beforehand. If you want, you can include a card with a note from the bride and groom. That way, no one knows for sure what you’re handing them.
DO designate someone to hand out tips
If you have a wedding planner, handing out tips at the end of the wedding should be one of their jobs.
Even if you don’t have an official planner, it’s a good idea to assign that job to someone specific so you’re not trying to keep track of a lot of money during the reception. Set aside tips the day before, and make sure your designated tipper knows who to give them to and when to do it.
If there are multiple people working under one supervisor – for example, multiple servers and one catering supervisor – instruct your designated tipper to give the full amount to the supervisor. They will ensure that all their employees receive a fair share of the tip.
DON’T give gifts or gift cards
Unless we’re talking about someone you’ve worked with for a long time and gotten to know well, you don’t know the taste of your vendors or where they like to shop. Stick with cash or, if the tip is large, a personal check or preloaded debit card. Don’t be afraid that money will seem impersonal – even though your wedding is a very personal event, your relationship with your vendors is still a professional one.
DO tip if you inconvenienced your vendors
Wedding vendors are trying to meet your standards and make your day special, but they need your cooperation to make that happen. They are also on tight timelines– because of the way weddings are scheduled, many work with multiple clients in one day.
If you inconvenience your vendors or get in the way of them doing their job — for example, if you’re running an hour late for your hair appointment or give the catering company the wrong delivery address — tipping is a way of acknowledging the trouble and apologizing.
DON’T feel the need to tip everyone
People performing personal services – makeup artists, servers, wedding planners, or DJs – should receive tips if you feel the service warrants it. But large companies that don’t interact with you personally, like the people you rent your tent from, don’t need to be tipped unless they really go above and beyond.
DO ask if you’re not sure how much to tip
Standard tip amounts can vary by region, so if you’re uncertain how much to tip, don’t be afraid to ask your wedding planner or another professional. They will be able to advise you on what’s appropriate and how best to thank your vendors.
In general, 15% is a safe amount. For a supervisor or someone who has done a lot of work, raising the tip to 20% is a good way of acknowledging that. For multiple people working the same job, such as wait staff, you can give a percentage of the total bill to be divided equally among the staff.
At the end of the day, a gratuity is at the discretion of the bride and groom. If you let yourself be guided by the level of service and how satisfied you were with your vendors, you’ll find yourself tipping appropriately without even thinking about it.