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How (And When) You Should Tip Your Wedding Vendors

  |  By David Connolly

Celebrity wedding planner David Connolly is here to answer all of your burning wedding-related questions. 

Q: I heard some people tip everyone (the church, the wedding planner, the people who work at the reception, etc). How much is appropriate? For example say it cost 600 to get married in your church, how much would you tip on that? I totally get/agree that you would want to show your gratitude and appreciation for your vendors -- I'm just concerned with looking cheap. Is there a magic percentage like there is for restaurants? I don't want anyone to feel insulted and this is totally stressing me out. Thanks in advance for any advice you have! - Courtney McKay via Facebook

A: Hi Courtney,

Great question. To ease your stress, I offer these "Tips On Tipping." To obliterate your stress, I offer them in a video game metaphor with the hope that your groom may consider taking on this great-for-grooms task.

LEVEL ONE: The Thank Yous Your first task is to extend verbal or written thanks to everyone involved in the planning, design and management of your day. "It takes a village" as they say and 100 percent of the village deserves to be recognized by you personally. Bonus points for giving extra cupcakes to the rental company movers or leftover flowers to the coat check attendant.

LEVEL TWO: Gratuity-ville In this level you are encouraged to offer something EXTRA to those who do something EXTRA. How do you know the difference between "extra" and "expected"? Collect the signed contracts that you made with everyone supplying goods or services. The specific details of your expectations and a mutually agreed upon compensation, including any anticipated gratuity, should be outlined. Your mission is to recognize and tip when work is done outside that agreement or is of an unexpectedly personal or higher-than-anticipated calibre.

On this level, remember to tip those who fulfill extra requests you have texted like: "I love it but can you make it in persimmon stripes/two feet taller/an hour later/fully submersible?" Or Facebook messaged "I know we said absolutely 100, final number, but I anxiously sent the B list so we're at 155. Actually 153 plus 2 more junior bridesmaids. Not a big deal right? Don't worry if you can't get the extra custom table cloths in time...although it sure would be nice."

Others to consider tipping: Anyone who provided personal connections or referrals, creative solutions or budget-conscious DIY ideas, which resulted in considerable cost- or stress-savings.

How many magical tipping tokens to give away is player's choice with the standard being 15 to 20 percent of the service. The Wedding Wizard suggests buying tickets (available in all price points) to something the vendor has shown interest in during your time together (live theatre, sporting events, movies, concerts, hobby shows). Bonus points for giving them out at the rehearsal or last meeting before the wedding day. This marks a substantial difference between trusting gratitude and dangling reward.

LEVEL THREE: The Final Test-imonial On level three, you hold the most valuable reward, one everyone wants and that money can't buy: A testimonial and offer of future referral. It should be given to those who have earned it and, as such, understand nothing is more valuable than reputation. You offering permission to be a future reference and actively sharing a good word of mouth is, well, priceless.

APPRECIATION RECAP 1. Thank You = 100% of All vendors/suppliers (verbal or written) 2. Gratuity = Extra 15-20% of fee for extra service. 3. Reward = Reference and testimonials.

Hope this helps you navigate your way to top scorer in record time.

Thankfully Yours, David

"Feeling gratitude but not sharing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." - William Arthur Wars


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