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Vendor Gratuities

Every event I assist with, I get the question “what DO we tip the vendors?”. Coming from the corporate, Disney events’ background makes this difficult for me to answer because I truly believe it is at each clients’ discretion and often more importantly, budget.

There are many planners/vendors that feel differently then I. Some have blogged that they expect nothing less than 15-20% of their fees, a few vendors have a percentage listed in their contracts. Mind Blown? Mine was.

It is important to acknowledge a job well done with some form of your appreciation! Does it have to be a fat envelope filled with cold hard cash, no. Below I laid out some not so scientific suggestions to try to help you figure out what will work best for you.

  • First check your contracts, see who is already listed to get what, this usually includes: caterers, bar service, transportation (limo / busses) and stylists (hair and makeup).

  • There is a difference between “Service Charge” and Gratuity for staff in regards to catering, ask your chosen catering pro if any part of the “Service Charge” goes to the staff. Then plan accordingly ($20-$50 per staff member).

  • Business owners like photographers, DJ’s, Bands, videographers and coordinators who did an amazing job do not expect 10-20%. it rocks, don’t get me wrong, but really a $50-$100 per team member is very appreciated.

  • Services vs. Goods: it has been said that cake, florals, invitations (goods) are not to be considered when tipping, but if you LOVE the time spent working with your florist and valued the time she took during the 5 meetings, walking through her workroom and 10 revisions to your order to get a dreamy floral display for your day, why would you exclude her, how about a $20 gift card to The Cheesecake Factory to show your thanks (anyone could find something on their menu!)?

  • As a vendor, ANY type of gift is greatly appreciated, be it a gift card or cash, especially when it comes with a heartfelt note of thanks. I don’t care if it is $200 cash or $25 card to Dunkin Donuts, a thank you note really makes all the difference in the world. A note saying you appreciate their time, effort and hard work to make their wedding or event a true success is appropriate.

  • Don’t discount the verbal and written gratuity: a referral and review! The one thing that ANY vendor loves is a referral, review and testimonial. If you took 15 minutes of one day to write a review, rate them on Wedding Wire, The Knot or Yelp them is the biggest form of flattery you can offer in lieu of the additional budget line item.

Bottom line, a tip or gratuity is showing appreciation for a job well done, a thank you for putting hours of work and expertise to assist in the overall outcome of your day. Is it mandatory, no. Is it a nice gesture, yes.

Below I found a few articles, though I don’t totally agree with all the suggestions listed the one constant between all of them is…that a gratuity is acknowledgement of appreciation. It is at your discretion and for you and only you to decide upon. Here are a couple of the articles that I found that were most informative and helpful:

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