You’ve heard us say it before – those last few weeks of wedding planning are the most detail intensive of the entire planning process. Tensions are stressing, budget is straining, and then Wham! You realize all of a sudden you haven’t allotted any gratuities for your wedding vendors or budgeted for any vendor meals. We’ve seen these questions time and again in our local planning groups: “Should we be providing meals for wedding vendors?”, “Do you tip vendors?” “How do we ensure a smooth, working relationship with our vendors on wedding day?”
So today we’re giving you the behind the scenes scoop on all things wedding vendor etiquette!
First things first, start the working relationship off with your best foot forward! When working with vendors we always recommend:
Let us say this– providing meals for your vendors is always appreciated but (generally) never expected. We highly recommended including key wedding vendors in the final meal count. These vendors can include photographer(s), videographer(s), wedding planner(s), DJ, band members, bartenders, and any vendor working 8+ hours through the dinner portion of your wedding day. While you’ll not often be “required” to provide a meal for these vendors, they are required to take a dinner break during their working shift. Providing a hot meal on site ensures that vendors won’t have to leave the venue, and then quite possibly miss some of the major moments in your wedding day timeline.
You won’t have to serve them the steak and lobster entree (unless you’d graciously like to offer that!) A filling, hot meal is often a much appreciated selection. Be sure to check with your catering team on this – caterers often have a simplified vendor meal option offered at a reduced rate to your wedding meal. Make sure to have your wedding planner collect all of the vendor’s allergen and dietary considerations to provide to the catering team with final meal count numbers. Another kind gesture is offering and including them in the non-alcoholic drinks package. While your vendors are professionals and won’t be taking shots at the bar, a nice caffeine boost throughout the evening keeps them sharp and ever attentive to your needs.
Our best rule of thumb is that when you and your babe are eating, your wedding vendors should be eating. Vendors who bring multiple team members to the event will often cycle through break times to ensure someone is always present should an emergency arise. Let your caterer know that your key vendors should be fed directly following you, to allow for smooth transitions into key moments following dinner like sunset photos, toasts, first dance, etc. Additional vendors (support staff, bartenders, catering team) can be fed following dinner service once the dance floor opens.
I know each and every wedding vendor will agree that any gift you choose to offer is so thoughtful and very much appreciated. But the best tip ever? A referral to everyone you know and a review online will go just as far in their hearts as anything else. If you decide you’d like to go above and beyond for your wedding vendors, we’ve pulled together these easy tipping guidelines to help simplify the process!
General Tipping Guidelines:
Hair and Make-Up Artists
Photographer and Videographer
Any delivery and set-up vendors on site (florist, cake, rentals, etc)
We recommend first checking the vendor’s contract to determine if they’ve already outlined break times and scheduling. For example, hiring a band for your wedding could come with a rider that requires the band to take 2 mandatory 15 minute breaks, in a privately dedicated green room.
Taking breaks isn’t just for vendors, though! Work in breaks and buffer time to the wedding day timeline, for both you and your vendors. Wedding days are long days, and you deserve a chance to kick back and take the moment in!
Separately from your break area, it’s a great idea to dedicate a private space for the vendors for their meals and allow for breaks. The benefit of this private space means they aren’t directly visible to your guests and will have the chance to relax and come back refreshed and present for you. If there’s not a private space available, consider adding another table to your seating chart specifically for vendors.
This is definitely one conversation we’d recommend having when interviewing vendors, leaving no room for surprises on the wedding day. While we have full confidence in the professionalism of the wedding community, it’s also completely fair to ask that any vendors you hire match the formality of the event. Highlight any specific dress codes requirements, and confirm in writing that they are able to meet those before hiring your selected wedding pro. Phone and social media policies should also be included as part of the dress code. We love a good tiktok trend or insta reel, and it’s so fun to see the creativity of wedding vendors on social media. But if having your wedding on tiktok isn’t your jam, that’s okay! Be sure to outline any cell phone and social media policies for your wedding prior to booking, that way everyone is in agreement and rolls into the wedding day on the same page.
You’ve probably guessed it by now, but the key to a smooth and seamless working relationship with your vendors is communication. Establishing clear and open lines of communication will ensure a happy wedding weekend experience for all! I break it down like this– if your partner can’t pick up the non-verbal signals you’re throwing down (as clearly as we think we’re telling them to put their socks IN the hamper, not next to it 🙄) then your wedding vendor can’t either. Offering clear expectations, asking questions, and working together for a resolution are the best tips we can provide to best protect your wedding planning experience.
Still got questions? We got you! Join us as we launch our Virtual Wedding Planner for a direct line on all your wedding planning questions. Need more personalized help? Let’s work together so we can share all our planning tips and tricks with you!