Tips for your wedding vendors: it is not always black & white

Tips for your wedding vendors: it is not always black & white

Maryland caterers and wedding professionals are often asked by their clients to explain the rules of tipping their vendors. While a tip is commonly considered a demonstration of appreciation or a reward for excellent service, there are many vendors who expect a certain amount or even build it into their pricing. Determining when gratuity is mandatory or optional can be tricky, but here are some helpful “Tip Tips” to guide you along the way…

First, try to incorporate gratuities into your budget from the beginning of the planning process so your wallet isn’t taken by surprise toward the end. Just like all costs associated with weddings, tips add up fast. Planning accordingly can prevent you from having to dig into your honeymoon funds at the last second.

A general rule of thumb is that company owners do not expect a tip, and that they should be reserved for employees. A thank you note, professional pictures from the day-of, or a glowing online review (on such sites as the Wedding Wire or the Knot) are sufficient and much-appreciated. If a particular vendor goes above and beyond, a monetary thank-you is an appropriate gesture.

Also, plan on distributing the tips at the conclusion of the event, when you can be sure that your wedding vendors have lived up to your expectations. Prior to the start of the event, allocate the anticipated amount for each vendor and place it in a labeled envelope that a trusted bridal attendant, parent, or planner can be responsible for handling.

Be sure to comb through contracts to determine whether or not gratuity has already been included, and do not hesitate to ask vendors if a “service charge” or “staffing fee” is the same as gratuity. Every contract is different, and asking for clarification only benefits you in the long run.

Visionary Art Museum

Wedding at American Visionary Art Museum

If a tip amount is not indicated in your vendor contract, here are some widely expected/acceptable amounts to tip professionals who make your day as special as you anticipated:

Wedding Planners: 15% of the total fee for services, not to exceed $200.00.

Photographers and Videographers: $50.00 -$100.00.

Hair and Makeup: 15-20% of the total bill.

Transportation: 15-20% of the total bill.

Officiants: A donation to the place of worship, or to organization of your choice made in their name, is typically preferred by officiants. Generally $75.00 – $200.00.

Ceremony & Reception Musicians: $25.00 – $50.00 each

DJs: $50.00 – $200.00

Deliveries (cake, flowers, etc): $10.00 – $15.00

Catering Staff: $100.00 – $200.00 for Catering Managers, $25.00 to $75.00 for Servers, Chefs, Dishwashers, and other staff (the catering manager is responsible for distributing the tips to their staff). Bartenders are included in the catering staff, and should not be displaying tip jars at the bar.

At the end of the day, gratuity is completely at your discretion; these guidelines are merely suggestions to help and provide insight. You are the best person to determine what is the best way to thank the vendors who have contributed to the success of your wedding way.

— Rachael, POTR Event Specialist