Tips on Tipping

Posted August 21, 2013

from Rayna Mcginnis Photography

I was always taught that a tip is a means of expressing appreciation. If your hair dresser gives you a fabulous cut and color and you walk out looking like Blake Lively (who doesn’t want to look that fabulous?!), you definitely want to thank her appropriately. But what exactly is appropriate when it comes to tipping your wedding vendors? Emily Posts’ Wedding Etiquette advises that vendors “are tipped only for extra-special service.” In other words, if your DJ takes your guests all the way to funky town and even got grandma out on the dance floor, and you feel they went above and beyond, it would be more than acceptable to express your gratitude via gratuity.
Why write a post about all this? Recently, I was talking with a bride who ripped out a page from a magazine which advised brides to tip upwards of 15-20% on top of the vendors’ fee. This is extremely generous to say the least! Here in the office, our jaws dropped upon hearing that, because here in the upstate that is definitely not typical. Our friend, Julie Dodds of Willow Forals, agrees, saying “I’ve never been tipped on wedding flowers… if someone were to tip I think a 5% tip is fine and 10% is generous.” Many wedding professionals—like the wonderful David and Amy Raycroft of Raycroft Art Photography—set up their pricing to encompass all fees and do not expect any additional payments. Of course, they are greatly appreciated when given because “it lets the vendors know their service was truly valued”, cellist Laura Pyle (of Trio 864) explains.
Here are a few other tips on tipping:
  • Factor tips into your original budget. If you would like to allot a portion of your budget to a tipping fund, you certainly can do so. Peggy Post recommends no more than 15% towards an unexpected tip fund. This way, if you really got your socks knocked off by the vendors who made your day the experience it was, you will already have the cash set aside.
  • Wait until after the wedding. I would not advise bringing sealed envelopes with a preplanned amount. You have to experience their services before being able to really thank them for it! When you get back from your honeymoon, write a thank you note and enclose it there. It will be very much enjoyed and appreciated—and the note is appreciated as much if not more than the actual dinero!
  • It does not have to be a monetary gift. Chris Isham (of Chris Isham Photography; see some of his fabulous work with us here!) verifies it does not have to be a monetary tip. He has received gifts from his grateful clients. In fact, we just had one of our lovely brides drop off some homemade chocolate chip and sea salt cookies and lemon rosemary shortbread biscuits- how AMAZING is that?!? Trust me, around here, we really appreciate the value (however quickly they may disappear) of yummy thank you treats.
  • Rules vary regionally. Obviously, the rules that apply in New York do not apply in Greenville. As a matter of fact, The “norm” around Greenville is even going to differ from Charleston, SC. Our research shows the following amounts as a national average. Transportation and catering companies will include tips in their fees (if not, 15-20%). Hair and makeup will get 15-20%. Entertainment gets $20-$50 each, whereas a DJ would get $50-$300. Photographers, wedding planners, and florists range from $30-$100. This does not apply if they own their own business. They have already negotiated their fees and will not expect anything extra (although I’m sure they would not object). However, it is customary to tip one of their employees if you so desire. Bottom line, keep in mind where you are having your wedding and adjust accordingly.

One of the very best ways to show your appreciation is to leave a great review for your vendor. Don’t hesitate to ask them if there is a specific site or link they want you to leave your review on—that is how you can leave a lasting “thank you” that helps them gain future business. In the wedding industry, our goal is “no return business” in that we hope to only see our clients again as bridesmaids or groomsmen in their friends’ weddings—as we want our clients to stay happily married forever! That’s why taking just a moment to write up your review for a vendor makes such a difference. We have certainly enjoyed reading back through our thank yous and reviews (found here)!