Parts 1 & 2 of How to Appreciate Your Vendors touched on tipping your hair stylist, make up artist, musicians, DJs, catering staff, transportation folks and officiant. Today, we share how to tip your photo & video people, as well as your planner/coordinator. Then we wrap it all up with some final thoughts on appreciating your vendors! Enjoy!
Who they are: As with many other wedding vendors, there’s a mix of folks working in these areas. Some are full-time professional photographers or videographers who only do weddings. Others work full-time in the photography field, but maybe on a variety of project types. Still others work in some other field and supplement their income with wedding and event work on the weekend. Regardless of who they are, they typically consider their work at least in some way to be an art form.
Martha Stewart Weddings says: Give $30 – $50 if they do not own the photography/videography company.
The Knot says: Give $50 – $200 if they do not own the photography/videography company.
Wedding Bee says: Give a personal gift. (Interesting, huh?)
A Paper Proposal says: Give $50 – $100 if they do not own the photography/videography company.
Our thoughts: Typically we would say that $75 to $100 is appropriate for your main photographer or videographer. Go to the higher end of the range if they did you any special favors such as: arriving early or staying a few minutes later than your contract time without charging you extra, coming prepared with rainy day props if the weather dictates it, suggesting extra wonderful shots or locations you weren’t expecting, reshooting any parts they didn’t get absolutely perfectly or adeptly handling your Great Auntie Faye’s multiple requests for every single formal shot grouping possible, etc. If you are having two photographers or videographers, it is kind of you to remember to also tip the second shooter, and we would recommend tipping that person around $40 – $60.
Who they are: If they are good (like us!), they care as much about your wedding as you do and will spend the day proving that to both you and your guests. They are often one of your first vendors in the door and one of your last vendors to leave. They should anticipate your needs and exceed your expectations. They handle any issues or problems that come up without causing you any undue stress and aren’t fazed by your crazy In-Laws-to-be. They have supported you leading up to your big day and are very excited to see everything come together in the best way possible. They are cool, calm, collected and prepared.
Martha Stewart Weddings says: Give $50-100 if they do not own the company.
The Knot says: Give up to $500 or a nice gift.
Wedding Bee says: Give up to $500, 15% of the bill, or a personal gift.
A Paper Proposal says: Give $50 – $100 if they do not own the company.
Our thoughts: (Hi, elephant. Do you like this room too?) We are wedding planners & coordinators. We are sure you can imagine that we have some definite opinions about tipping us. You can also imagine it can be awkward to share those suggestions. Oh, well. Bring on the awkward!
Here’s the straight up truth: We have worked with clients who tipped us in a variety of ways. From the clients who spent close to $100,000 on their wedding and tipped us $0 for making sure it was picture perfect to the clients who appreciated us so much that they tipped us the day of their wedding and wrote a wonderful thank you note and took us out to dinner and gave us a rave review online AND gave a personal gift – every client handles this a little differently. Realistically, the day is usually done by the time tipping happens – and we are going to work just as hard for you regardless of how you do or don’t tip us. What matters more to us is that you LOVED your day – and we especially appreciate when you are willing to share that experience online in the form of happy reviews. What matters most to us is that you feel confident sending all of your friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances our way, confident in the knowledge they will receive the same level of service, care and personal attention that you received and that they will love us as much as you did.
We think $100-200 is a good base to begin at for your lead planner/coordinator. If your wedding day or planning process was extra challenging, you may consider tipping more. Similar to other vendors who have assistants, if there are any assistants present at your wedding you should consider tipping them as well, perhaps starting around $50-75.
Always check your contracts before doling out tips as in many cases gratuities have been included. Don’t forget about delivery people as well. Your flowers and cake have to arrive at your venue somehow, you can consider tipping the folks who make that happen safely a small amount; consider $10 – $25 depending on how much set up they do at the delivery site.
When you decide who and how to tip, some people like to consider if the folks they would be tipping are independent business owners or if they work for a bigger company. This is based on the assumption that if they are working for a company they will be receiving just a small portion of what you paid for the services whereas if they are independent their fees may be mostly profit after their costs. Many of our sources said to tip only if they do not own the studio/company. It is up to you to decide if that is a rule you would like to follow. Or it might not make any difference to you at all, in which case, ignore that idea. In our experience in this region, this is an outdated norm that most couples do not follow.
One thing that (surprisingly) escapes the attention of many couples, is that a simple thank you note goes a long way. For couples who choose not to tip or feel as though they cannot afford to tip, sending a thank you note at least helps your vendors to know that you noticed and appreciated their hard work on your behalf. If nothing else, you should plan to do this. Its just good manners.
Ultimately, keep in mind that the purpose of a tip is to reflect your gratitude and appreciation regarding the work the person you are tipping did for you. If you feel the work was sub-par, don’t hesitate to tip less than the recommended amount or not at all. Remember that the root of the word “gratuity” comes from gratitude – and that’s where any tip should come from: gratitude for service well done.