It takes a village to produce a wedding. Over several months (sometimes even years), your vendor team pours their blood, sweat, and tears into bringing your dream day to life. As wedding professionals, our jobs are to take your vision and make it happen despite any circumstances we may face. We put our own lives on hold to ensure that your new life with your spouse begins on the absolute best note.
Don’t get me wrong – we are fairly compensated already for the work that we do. Each of us has priced out our services according to the time and effort that it takes us to bring your dream wedding to fruition. But when a vendor goes above and beyond your expectations, it is always nice to show them your gratitude by providing them with an additional tip or gift.
The quick and easy answer to tipping wedding vendors is this – gratuity is never expected, but always appreciated! At the end of the day, whether or not you choose to tip your vendors is 100% up to you. Once you have paid your final balance for each vendor, your financial obligation has ended. Any additional gratuity that you may or may not choose to pay a vendor based on his or her work is at your discretion.
If you do choose to tip your vendors, you may be wondering a few different things:
Which vendors should receive a tip?
How much should I tip each vendor?
When should I tip them? Before, during, or after the wedding?
Who should hand out tips on wedding day?
If I want to get my vendors gifts instead of giving them cash tips, what should I get them?
I will answer all of these questions in this guide, but if there are any additional questions that you might have, don’t hesitate to send us a DM on Instagram or fill out our contact form to schedule a call!
Which Wedding Vendors Should Receive a Tip?
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to which wedding vendors you should tip. Again, this is completely up to your discretion, and there are several different ways to approach this. Some couples wait until after the wedding and tip based on overall experience, while others have tips ready in advance so that the vendors receive them on wedding day. Either way, here are a few things to consider when deciding who to tip.
Take a Look at Your Vendors' Contracts and Invoices
Before divvying out tips to your vendors, take a look at their contracts and invoices to make sure that there isn’t already a line item for gratuity. Some vendors, like caterers, bartenders, and transportation companies, include gratuity in their packages.
Consider the Time and Energy That Each Vendor is Putting Into Your Day
Full-service wedding planners spend between 200 - 300 hours planning each wedding. Photographers and videographers spend 8 - 10 hours with you on wedding day, plus three to four times that amount editing your photo gallery or wedding video. Hair and makeup artists only spend a handful of hours with you on wedding day, and your officiant and ceremony musicians typically commit just a couple of hours to your big day. Sometimes, this can be a simple way to decide who you want to tip vs. who you don’t (or how much to tip that person).
For those of you looking for a quick and easy list, here is who I would personally recommend tipping:
Planner or Coordinator
DJ or Band
In contrast, here are a few vendors that you could potentially skip tipping:
Caterer (this is typically included in the overall cost)
Bartenders (this is typically included in the overall cost)
Transportation (this is typically included in the overall cost)
How Much Should You Tip Each Wedding Vendor?
Now that you have decided which wedding vendors to tip, you need to decide how much to tip them. I know I sound like a broken record here, but this truly is a very personal decision. There is no magic number or percentage that I can give you – it all depends on your budget, what you hired each vendor to do, and your overall experience with them both on your wedding day and during the wedding planning process.
As a wedding planner, I have been tipped $60, and I have been tipped $600. I have received a heartfelt card from my clients, and I have received a beautiful gift from Louis Vuitton. I truly appreciate each of these clients equally – it’s not about what they gave me, it’s about the fact that they took the time and energy to show their gratitude for the work that I put into their big day.
For some people, tipping the standard 20% (like you would at a restaurant) for a wedding vendor is out of the question. If you spend $20,000 on catering, that’s a whopping $4,000 extra in gratuity alone. However, perhaps you could tip your servers and chef(s) for the hours that they work on wedding day. Instead of a percentage, consider tipping each server $10 per hour and the chef(s) $20 per hour. This will come out to a much more manageable number and will still be a wonderful gesture to the staff.
If you do want to tip based on a percentage, even 5 - 10% of the overall package price is a very kind and generous gesture. Remember - tipping is never expected, so any amount is greatly appreciated!
When Should I Tip My Wedding Vendors - Before, During, or After the Wedding?
If you know that you are going to be tipping a vendor a set number or percentage, it may be easiest to tip them either before or during the wedding. You can always add gratuity to your final payment (which is usually due a month or so before wedding day), or you can have cash or a check ready to go in a sealed envelope for them on the big day.
On the other hand, if you are wanting to tip your vendors based on your overall experience, consider waiting until the dust has settled and you are back from your honeymoon. This will give you the time to reflect on your special day and to figure out which vendors went above and beyond for you!
Who Should Hand Out Tips on Wedding Day?
For those of you who do choose to tip vendors on your actual wedding day, you may be wondering who should physically hand them the check or cash. Some couples prefer to do this themselves so that they have the opportunity to verbally and personally thank their vendors. Others are overwhelmed by the thought of holding on to this money, remembering to check in with each vendor, and spending the extra time away from the day's festivities to ensure that this gets done.
If you find yourself in the latter situation, ask your wedding planner or coordinator to handle this for you! I hand out vendor tips at 90% of my weddings. I am spending a ton of time with vendors on wedding day already strictly because it is my job, so I usually find that this is easiest for my clients. If you do have your planner, coordinator, or anyone else hand out these tips, it is very important that you divide the money in advance and place them in sealed, labeled envelopes. One of the most uncomfortable things for a planner or coordinator is when a client hands them a wad of cash and says, "Here, divvy this out based on who you think deserves it most." Soooo awkward!
What Can I Give My Wedding Vendors to Thank Them That Isn't Money?
Some people don’t like the idea of giving vendors money as a tip. Maybe they would rather pick something out that is personal and thoughtful (which is always so sweet!). Just remember to choose something that that vendor would use and appreciate (this is usually best for vendors you know well and spent a significant amount of time with). For example, you don't want to give a bottle of wine to someone who doesn't drink or a meat and cheese basket to someone who is vegan.
Here are a few ideas for you to consider:
Nice bottle of wine or whiskey
Potted plant or succulent
Gift basket with gourmet goods
Flowers from a local florist
Amazon gift card
Spa package or massage
Hotel staycation in their city
Something personal based on your relationship with them
At the end of the day, the most important thing that you can do for your wedding vendors is to look them in the eyes and truly thank them for the role that they played in bringing your dream day to life. Another really important thing for clients to do for their vendors is to write them a review on Google, Facebook, The Knot, Wedding Wire, or wherever they receive reviews for their business (you can always ask them for the direct links to make things easy). This is a “thank you note” that lasts a lifetime and will help guide other potential clients to their businesses! The best compliment that any wedding vendor could possibly get is your referral of their services.