To tip, or not to tip? That is the question many brides and grooms have concerning their wedding vendors. Knowing when and how to tip vendors can be tricky. Thankfully, some seasoned wedding planners have agreed to offer their insight on when tipping is appropriate. Debbie Orwat from Save the Date Events, Jessica McTaggart from Pink Champagne Events, and Adrienne Gardner from The Gardner Effect all share their thoughts on tipping vendors.
1. What vendors do you recommend tipping (Caterers, bartenders, D.J., photographer, etc.)?
– Jessica McTaggart answers: “I recommend tipping any vendors who will complete their service on the wedding day. That includes; DJs, live musicians, catering staff (servers + chefs), transportation driver(s), bartenders, photo booth attendants, hairstylists, makeup artists, valet/coat check staff, and security (where appropriate). If the photographer, videographer, etc. do a fabulous job, I recommend that the client send a thank you note, after receiving their album/video/images, with a monetary token of appreciation.”
– Adrienne Gardner says: “I always tell my couples to “tip accordingly”, but to also “take care of those that take care of you and your guests.” I normally recommend you tip your catering staff, DJs, and bartenders first. As they usually work for large companies, and simply make an hourly rate working the event. I recommend tipping coordinators, florists, and photographers if they provided exceptional service/were a pleasure to work with during the planning process.”
2. Is tipping always appropriate for vendors, or just for exceptional service?
– Jessica: “Tipping is always appropriate with service related categories (catering, bar-tending, valet/coat check, etc.). If it [the job] is performance based, such as live musicians, photo booth, or DJ, I make recommendations based on the client’s expectations. If the dance floor is packed all night, a band or DJ deserves an above average amount.”
– Adrienne: “If the service was average or alright, perhaps [give] a small tip. Large or full [tips] for exceptional service.”
3. How much is appropriate to tip/what percentage of the total price?
– Jessica: “For catering, I recommend 18-20% of the total, pre-tax amount, if [you are] tipping on their final invoice. If they’re tipping each staff member individually with cash (preferred), I recommend $50/server, $75-$100/chef, and $100/captain or lead. For DJs, I recommend $50 -$75, if they are playing reception only, and $100-$125 if they do both ceremony and reception. For other vendors in the industry, tips can range from $75-$250 based on the product/service they provide. Depending on the client’s budget, these numbers may be higher or lower.”
– Adrienne: “Depends on the vendor. Please see attached tipping guide.”
4. Do you tip the individual workers of a team (ex: caterers), or the team as a whole?
– Jessica: “I prefer both (when the client can do it). It allows the couple to show appreciation to the company when tipping the team as a whole, but also individually thank the staff at their event. [only one] needs to be done, I recommend tipping individual staff members.”
– Adrienne: “I suggest you tip the team as a whole. I ask my couples to prepare tips in sealed envelopes. I give the catering envelope to the captain on duty to distribute. Clients can easily find out the amount of staff the caterer will provide by reading their contracts or asking their catering rep. You can also tip after the event with the cc your caterer has on file, which can be a bit easier than having all that cash on hand.”
5. Should you tip a wedding planner in addition to paying her?
–Jessica: “I leave that entirely up to my clients. Some of my clients have tipped me at the end of the night, some have sent it in a thank-you, and some have thanked me in other ways (gifts, referrals, etc.). They’re all very appreciated and never expected.”
– Adrienne: “I suggest you tip coordinators for great service, especially those that worked non-stop for 10-12 hours that day to pull off a flawless wedding.”
6. Should you tip a venue representative?
–Jessica: “That is also something that I leave up to the client. Some of them experience an above and beyond experience that they might monetarily recognize. Others don’t.”
– Adrienne: “Venue reps are normally not included in my tipping guidelines.”
7. Are tips ever included in a bill?
– Jessica: “Some vendors include a 20% gratuity on their final invoice or in the total amount due. Some do not.”
– Adrienne: “They can be- always read your contracts! Or, ask your coordinator to review them for you and make tipping suggestions. Most often, they are not included. 9 times out of 10, administrative fees do not include tip, which I think some couples find confusing.”
8. How much of a wedding budget should be factored towards tipping vendors?
– Jessica: “It’s hard to say what percentage of the budget should be allocated to tipping. A good estimate is 2%-5%. Depending on the complexity of the wedding and the budget, the total amount for vendor tips could be higher or lower.”
– Adrienne: “To me, tipping should be a bit more flat rate (except for transportation, hair/make up artists). Meaning whether or not my client’s budget is 10k or 100k, I will still work equally hard for both.”
9. Is there anything else clients should know about tipping?
– Jessica: “Tips are not expected, but they are greatly appreciated across the board. A large portion of vendors in the wedding and event industry are small businesses, and [they] value each and every client they work with. A monetary recognition of that work goes a long way.”
– Adrienne: “First of all, read your contracts to make sure it [tipping] is not already included. Second, tip based on performance. Third, most of your vendors love what they do and work very hard at every wedding, and a little bit at the end of the evening is very much appreciated.”
*Debbie Orwat and Adrienne Gardner have generously shared the following links to their tipping guides that address many tipping FAQs
Gratuity Guidelines- Save the Date Events
Tipping Guidelines – The Gardner Effect
*A Warm, Spruce Mountain Ranch Thank You to:
-Jessica McTaggart: Pink Champagne Events, http://pinkchampagneevents.com/
-Adrienne Gardner: The Gardner Effect, http://www.gardnereffect.com/
-Debbie Orwat: Save the Date Events, http://www.savethedateevents.com/