Friday, July 29, 2011

Tipping... Who and How Much??

**Back by popular demand** 

One of the most common questions I get from Brides and her parents is
"Who do we tip and how much is appropriate?"
The general rule of thumb is to tip the vendors who stay for the entire wedding.
Example: Clergy, Musicians, Caterer, Wedding Planner, Photographer, Videographer.

So what about the florist, baker, etc.? They've put as much time as those who stay for the entire wedding day, right? My answer: Absolutely. If you are thrilled with their work, give a tip to your wedding planner and tell her it's for the baker/florist/etc. Your wedding planner will mail that vendor their gift.

First, let's look at the entire budget. The average bride spends about $29,000 on her wedding. So if your thought is, "I've already spent $13,000 on catering. Why should I tip on top of that?" let's look at your catering contract. If there is a 20% service charge in addition to labor fees and sales tax, that's normal. That 20% goes toward the staff's gratuity at the end of the night. The caterer is responsible for handing out that money to the staff.

HOWEVER (and I'm not sure I can write that in bigger, more note-worthy font so I'll say it again) HOWEVER, if you have amazing service, an additional tip is always appreciated. Typically you will have a dedicated server - someone whose only job that night is to make sure your glass never goes empty, that you are alternating between an alcoholic beverage and water, and to make sure you have everything you need. (For example, if your favorite fruit is grapes and your VIP Server sifts through the fruit tray and brings you only grapes, that counts as amazing service.) A good tip for a VIP Server is $50-$100. If the entire service staff rocked, I'd recommend $50 per server.

Keep in mind, most of these vendors have been working with you for upwards of 4-6 months or longer and are charging a flat fee. There is no "service charge" in your photographer's contract. So if he/she does a fabulous job, makes you feel comfortable all night, and falls in easily with your guests, he/she is *working* continuously through the day.

Here's an easy breakdown:
Clergy: $25 - $100
Baker: not necessary, but always appreciated in any amount
Caterer: $50 - $100 for VIP Server or $50 per server
Florist: not necessary, but always appreciated in any amount
Photographer: $50 - $100
Videographer: $50 - $100 (I recommend sending this after you get your DVD!)
Wedding Planner: $50 -$100
Band: $50-$100 per member
DJ: $50-$100

Here are a list of vendors who will get their gratuity at the end of the night regardless of if you slip them some cash.
Venue: (it's not necessary to tip the hotel)
Limo Driver: (his/her gratuity is built in to the fee and will not be split among others as in the case of servers and caterers)
Site Contact: (the person at your venue who shows up to make sure the lights are on / the Church Lady)

Remember, the BEST gratuity you can give a vendor is a letter thanking them for their amazing service. That vendor can post your letter and picture on their website and get more business because of your props. If you've been married for a couple of months, take a walk down memory lane and think about your vendors. If one sticks out in your mind as *phenomenal*, tell them about it. It's not too late. They'll appreciate it.
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Melissa Kay Allen said...

Great topic! As director of a venue, I would clarify that not all service charges are actually gratuity. In our case, the service charge goes toward overhead and upkeep of our facility and business. There is no gratuity distributed from that 20% service charge. AND the service charge may not be on the whole bill - in our case, we charge service charge on the food, beverage, and staff (not room rental, rentals, decor elements, etc.) The contract or FAQ of the venue or caterer should clarify the service charge.

I agree that the best gratuity is in sharing your thanks: with a letter to the event pros, with positive reviews on social networks and review sites, and by recommending business their way. That's always the best "thank you" one can receive!

The Ebell of Los Angeles

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