The Tipping Dilemma

I keep seeing questions from brides about whether or not to tip their vendors.

There is a lot of confusion about this topic. Popular wedding blogs and magazines will tell you which vendors deserve tips and how much. This information creates pressure for brides to allocate some of their budget for tips. And it also encourages some vendors to feel entitled to a tip.

This “advice” rubs me the wrong way, and here is why: A tip is, by definition, a gift or reward for services rendered. It is something given without expectation or obligation.

As a wedding coordinator, I deal with this issue all the time. But it’s even come up in personal experiences, too.

I was a bridesmaid at a wedding and happened to also be the e-mail contact given on the contract. Following the wedding, I received an e-mail from the limo driver. He was upset that he had not received his tip. To be fair, he was a wonderful driver, and the bride and groom intended to tip him, but during the hustle and bustle of the wedding day they forgot. Instead of letting it go or even waiting for a “thank you” card to arrive in the mail with an attached tip, he felt entitled to message me to complain about it.

This struck me as very off-putting and unprofessional. No one had mentioned to him that he was to be tipped, so it was awkward that he was now expecting one. All of the sudden it was no longer a gift of gratitude, but an expected addition to his fee.

In addition to the blogs and magazines telling brides how much to tip, they will also dictate which vendors simply don’t deserve a gratuity at all. They propose that any business owner or sole proprietor should not be tipped. What is a bride supposed to do? Interview all vendors to determine the size of the business and number of employees? This logic simply makes no sense. For example, if you order a drink at a bar, would you base your decision on whether or not to tip on the fact that the owner happens to serve you instead of someone else?

Yet this is the logic applied to tipping wedding vendors. A photographer might be with you the entire day and deliver exemplary service. But the blogs and magazines will tell you that if this photographer owns their business, they don’t deserve a tip. Yet the limo driver who is hired for only a couple of hours absolutely should be tipped. At this point, can it even be considered a “tip” anymore?

I would like brides and grooms to look at this topic of “tipping” as it should be intended. If you’re wondering WHO to tip, ask yourself these questions:

·         Did they help to make my day a better experience?

·         Do I feel they’ve earned a tip?

·         Would I like to show my appreciation?

When it comes to HOW MUCH to tip, keep in mind that the point of a tip isn’t just about handing out extra cash to vendors. It’s a show of gratitude and brides shouldn’t be expected to allocate an even larger budget just to accommodate services they haven’t even received yet.

It’s really that simple.

If you feel that vendors deserve something extra, it’s up to you to decide what best shows your gratitude. Maybe that is a little extra money. But even a gift can be appreciated. A photographer I know told me that a groom looked at his Facebook page and discovered his love of cigars. At the reception, the groom handed the photographer a bundle of cigars and he said it was one of the coolest things a client has ever done for him.

And to all of my fellow vendors, let’s stay humble. We do this because we love it. At the end of the night, the only reason our hands should be out is for a handshake of congratulations. Anything more should be received with pure gratitude.