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Guide to tipping your vendors.

As a photographer, I see the value of good vendors at every event I’m a part of, social or corporate. But what is the measure of how much a vendor can add to the overall success of an event? Why do we TIP at all? What is the purpose? What does TIPS stand for? Do we have to TIP at all?

I have always been taught the T.I.P.S. stands for To Insure Proper/Prompt Service. Apparently I’m not the only who thinks so, as TMZ recently pointed out to the world, click here.

Are TIPS just for servers at a restaurant, a bellman or the valet who brings you your car? I think not.

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In the grand scheme of things, the value of a vendor at a Wedding or Bar Mitzvah is the same. If you were raised like me, you thank people who went above and beyond the call for you or presented their product or service at an exceptionally high level. Tipping is the general way most people show gratitude to those that made their event a success and to that, there is no different from the valet manager to the photo booth operator, the band leader or the DJ. If you are lucky enough to have the owner of the company their working your event, don’t leave them out, thank them extra for bringing the “A” team.

One word to the wise, if you’re not tipping everyone, try not to let those not receiving gratuity see you giving to others. That leaves them wondering what they did wrong.

Below is a helpful guideline. Again, just a guideline, none of this is written in stone. Additionally, never feel the need to give money to every single person in the band or each server, simply give to the leader and let them distribute to the team.

If your contract doesn’t include gratuity, you should tip 15-20% of the total bill. Another way to tip is offering $50-$200 for each chef and $20-$50 per server.

If your contract doesn’t include gratuity, you should tip the main person $50-$100 and $20 for each of the runners. No one likes waiting for their cars too long.

Ceremony staff & reception staff:
It’s not mandatory to tip the ceremony staff, reception staff and delivery staff, but if you’d like to, then you can offer them $20-$50 each.

Often times officiants won’t accept tips, but a $100 donation to their church/temple is a great way to thank them. If the officiant is non-denominational, consider giving them a $100 tip, especially if they aren’t charging for your service.

Hair and makeup artist:
A 15-20% tip is expected, just like it would be for any other regular salon visit, but it isn’t required. Referrals are also a GREAT way to say thank you.

Event planner:
Planners who do the job right, don’t expect a tip, but really appreciate one.Like other vendors, this is optional based on service and your relationship with them. If you were given a huge discount or the planner went far above and beyond their contracted services, offering a tip of 10-20% is a nice way of saying “thank you” for the efforts. However, sometimes a nice bottle of wine or spa-day is more meaningful.

Photographer and videographer:
Both often work hours far longer than all other vendors. An extra $50 to $200 is a nice gesture, or 10-15% of the contract. If there are two or three shooters, giving a $50 to $100 tip to each person is optional.

Band or DJ:
Offering a 10-20% tip is a nice gesture to your band or DJ, especially if they have to carry a lot of heavy equipment from one location to the next. For musicians, a $25-$100 tip per band member is appropriate.

Dancers or Party Motivators:
$25-$100 per dancer will be very appreciated, but you can always double check with the MC or DJ to be sure.

Lighting Technicians:

These people can make or break an event is things don’t go right, $50-$100 for the lead person and $25-$50 for others will mean the world to them.

A 15% tip is optional if it isn’t included in the contract.

The florist doesn’t expect a tip. However, if they do an outstanding job, you can consider giving them a 10-15% tip after services are rendered.

Keep this in mind:
Though tipping at weddings and mitzvahs have become more of a custom in all service areas, it isn’t mandatory. With the exception of the catering staff and possibly the venue, tips are considered a nice surprise by almost all vendors.

If you don’t have the money to shell out thousands more on tips, there are a few gestures that will go a long way with your team of wedding pros. Send an email with a review, a handwritten thank-you note or a review on Yelp or WeddingWire are great ways to show appreciation and offer something the vendor can use when booking future clients.

The best TIP is your good word. Refer your vendors to your friends — this gesture will go much further than a cash tip and will come in very handy the next time you need their product or service!