Tips are never obligatory. Tipping is called a gratuity because it is exactly that, a monetary gift that conveys your gratitude for exceptional service rendered. That being said, tips have become commonplace in the service industry and many vendors will expect a tip at the end of the night. You should, therefore, budget them into your expenses. Here are some guidelines to help in tipping the appropriate amount to the right person:
Check your contracts.
Often gratuities are imbedded in the total cost of your contract. You are most likely to see this in a catering contract, and it may be disguised as a service charge. Tips are also generally built into any transportation costs. As with any contract, always read the fine print and ask whether gratuities are included.
Don’t tip the owners.
A simple rule of thumb is if you have hired the owner of the business, you do not need to tip them. If your photographer owns the studio, you do not need to tip them. The same might go for florists and bakers.
Reward extraordinary efforts.
Beyond the customary tips, when someone goes out of their way for you, consider thanking them with a gift certificate, a bottle of wine, or a small gift of appreciation. I love this simple chart from the Southern Weddings Website for breaking down tip suggestions: I always advise clients to prepare all of their tips the week before. You do not want to be making an emergency ATM trip the morning of your wedding. Put each tip into a sealed and envelope labeled with the vendors’ name. Distributing tips is not the job of the bride or groom. If you have a wedding coordinator, this job will be theirs. If you don’t have a wedding coordinator, designate a responsible person to handle this duty. I usually recommend that you do not ask either set of parents, as they will be busy acting as hosts and hostesses. One last thing to consider, a thank you note, a referral, and a great review on a website go a long way. Vendors rely on happy clients to spread the word, and you’d be amazed at how one review can cultivate future business – that is often the best tip you can give!