Your Wedding Budget & Guidelines for Tipping Vendors

Featured Image: Sarah Babcock Studios

Congratulations on your recent engagement!

For many, creating your guest list and booking your venue are first on your planning agenda. But, before finalizing either, we always encourage our clients to determine their event budget as their very first step.

And in this post, we are sharing our budget and tipping overview to help you better prepare your event budget.

So let’s dive in!

Photo: Sarah Babcock Studio

Planning Your Wedding Budget

Establishing your event budget is a critical first step in your wedding planning process. We encourage you to confirm commitments from each of your event’s financial contributors and to have a transparent discussion around the anticipated costs of the event. More on that topic here!

Though regardless of whether your budget is firm or fluid, we advise that the costs of your venue, rentals, bar and caterer that account for 50% of your budget. First, think about your event like a pie chart and know that half of the pie will be consumed by these vendors – and the remaining half of the pie will be distributed amongst all other hired professionals with each vendor accounting for 5-10% of your respective budget.

Knowing these guidelines up front will not only help you communicate the event costs to your partner and family, but also better inform you as to which vendors are within and outside of your budget. So many times when we are introduced to a project later in the planning process, we find our clients surprised that they are over budget – but we are confident that budget creep is easily avoidable if you take some time to understand this simple and effective budgeting perspective!

Tipping Your Vendors

Tipping is an additional cost that you should include into your wedding budget. And in our event planning system, Aisle Planner, we use a state-of-the-art budgeting tool to populate your estimated cost, actual cost, amount paid, and amount due for each vendor on the project. Each invoice populates to the project’s calendar and you are email-notified of each respective due date so that you never miss a payment!

Natalia’s Event Planning | Aisle Planner

And although we are accustomed to tipping in every day scenarios, understanding event tipping etiquette is a common area of confusion. So, in this portion of the post, we will break down a few guidelines around tipping your wedding vendors.

The traditional wedding expectation is to tip a wedding vendor if you believe that they provided exceptional service. By tipping them, you are communicating that you’re happy with the service they provided you on or before your wedding day.

Though it is not always necessary to provide a monetary tip to suppliers to whom you wish to show your appreciation. If you think your wedding vendor did a great job, you may also choose to send them a gift with a thank you note after the wedding. Also remember that the most valuable gratuity you can give to any wedding vendor is your five start review and recommendation to others!

Before determining how much to tip your vendor, read through your service agreement and invoice with each partner on the project. Caterers and bartending services for example, often include gratuity in their invoices. You are not required to tip above that amount unless you wish to show extra gratitude for their exceptional service. You do not need to know each member of the catering staff – the catering manager will divide your tip amongst their team fairly.

And other vendors, such as your venue may include a service charge on their invoice. A service charge is not the same as included gratuity and choosing to tip the venue manager in addition to the service charge is common practice.

Other vendors do not include gratuity or service charge on their invoices at all. And just like other service-oriented industries, tipping your wedding professional 15-20% is best practice. A flat rate for all vendors is less formal, though still of course appreciated.

If you are unsure about which vendors to tip, it is helpful to consider which businesses serviced your event through the duration of the day. These partners include but are not limited to: Your venue, photographer, cinema, wedding planner, caterer, bartender, floral designer, cake baker, officiant, beauty stylist, transportation, and entertainment. You are not required to tip your lodging, bridal attire retailers, or rentals companies.

You may also be wondering how to tip your vendors. You are welcome to tip in advance as your make your final balance payments in preparation for the event day. Or, you may choose to tip on the day of the event. If you choose to tip on the day of the event, be sure to secure your tips in a sealed and labeled envelope for each vendor. Provide the envelopes to your wedding planner at the rehearsal and they will kindly hand deliver the envelopes to each respective vendor upon arrival to your event.

As your wedding planners, we humbly acknowledge that providing your vendors a tip is both very generous and personal. We encourage you to only tip a vendor if you believe they served you and the needs of your event well – Your tip is a sign of your gratitude and we appreciate you considering this important piece of your wedding budget with us in advance.

Be sure to connect with us personally if you have additional questions regarding your budget and tipping expectations. We are here to serve and advise you on discussions such as these all throughout the planning process!

With Grace,

Photo: Sarah Babcock Studio