Wedding Vendor Tipping Etiquette

Should we and how much should we tip are questions we get all the time!  Wedding tipping etiquette can be extremely confusing, and most online articles regurgitate the same outdated themes. The simple answer is you should tip anyone who gave you excellent personal service throughout your wedding planning or on your wedding day.  Below are some general guidelines to help you determine who, and how much, to tip. 

Do I tip someone who owns their own business?

If they provided great personal service, then yes.  You can find tons of articles that tell you it isn’t appropriate to tip someone who owns their own business, but that rule is overly generalized. In some cases, it makes sense--no, you don’t need to tip the owner of the rental company that employs 50-100 people, you’ve never met before, and they don't know your name or that your wedding is even happening.  However, the photographer that works for himself and has been lugging around camera gear in New Orleans' heat for 12 hours has provided a personal service to you, so yes, it is appropriate to tip them if you were pleased with the service. A large portion of your wedding vendors are likely small business owners intimately and personally involved in making your day special, so by all means tip them if you feel they are deserving! 

How much do I tip?

A general guideline for tipping is 20% of the cost of services, and that number holds true for vendors such as your hair and makeup artists, transportation drivers, etc.  Practically, however, if you tipped every vendor 20% the cost of their services, that could push you way over your wedding budget. Here are some additional tipping suggestions: 

“Large teams” (4+) catering/bartending/valet staff/large bands: $20-50 per person
“Small teams” (1-3) photographers, catering managers, on-site coordinators, live event artists, planners, florists, bakers, designers, smaller bands/musicians: $100-200 per person
“Manual labor” those setting up tables/chairs/lighting, etc.: $20-50 per person
“Deliveries” those dropping off cake or floral arrangements, etc.: $5-15 per person

Do I tip vendors if gratuity was included in the contracted price?

Yes, because a lot of the time the contracted gratuity is not being passed down to the employees.  So just because the limousine company added in gratuity doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tip the driver if he was on time, professional, and treated you and your bridal party like royalty. 

Tips on Tipping:

Work tips into your budget at the very beginning of the planning process. This will make parting with the money less painful, and insure that you won’t spend the money by the time your wedding day is here.  

Before your wedding day, figure out who and how many people you need to tip, get the cash, and place in envelopes with the vendors’ names on them.  If you are tipping a large group of people, such as the catering staff, you will want to find out how many will be working your event to come up with your total.  Don’t forget to give the tips to your planner or onsite coordinator before your wedding day, so they can distribute to the vendors you might not see.

Also consider a “general tipping” envelope filled with fives and tens to hand to your planner to pass out as warranted (and return whatever is leftover) when you don’t know the exact number of people who may be dropping by throughout the day with deliveries, helping with set-up, etc. 

In sum, while tips are never expected or required, they are always appreciated and appropriate for any vendor working to make your day great.  While this article is meant to help with tipping guidelines/amounts, of course whatever you can personally afford is the right amount for you. If that amount is zero, a thank you note or glowing review is a great way to let your vendors know you appreciated all the hard work!  


Satchel Q&A Collaboration with Borrowed and Blue

Recently, I teamed up with Helen at Borrowed & Blue to talk about weddings in New Orleans, plus a little bit about my background as a wedding planner! Here’s what Helen had to say: 

“At Borrowed & Blue, we’re pros at helping you find amazing New Orleans wedding vendors, but it’s those vendors themselves who are going to be making your wedding into the special day you know it’s destined to be. That’s why you need a consummate professional like Josie at Satchel Planning & Design to handle your event! Her charming, minimalist aesthetic and commitment to keeping wedding planning fun make her a perfect choice for couples looking to tie the knot in NOLA, and I was so excited to get to chat with her about her job! I think you’ll love getting to know her better, just like I did.” - Helen, Borrowed & Blue’s New Orleans Market Specialist

Photo by Lance Nicoll Photography; florals by Leaf + Petal Nola. 

Photo by Lance Nicoll Photography; florals by Leaf + Petal Nola. 

1. Hey Josie! Tell us about how you got into wedding planning as a profession.

I had the idea for starting Satchel after planning my own wedding. Before, I was practicing law for about five years and felt like I was missing out on doing something creative, I have a studio art and art history background from undergrad. Wedding planning seemed like a great fit for me, and it really is—I love keeping clients organized but also bringing to life their vision. 

2. What is your favorite part of being a wedding planner?

I love getting to know new people and most of the time end up staying in touch with my clients long after the wedding.  Other than that, my favorite part is definitely wedding design, and seeing that all come together on the wedding day. What is always surprising to me is how unique each wedding turns out—no wedding looks the same, and it’s because every couple comes with different ideas and personality that’s reflected in their wedding design! 

Photo by Hannah Mulligan Photography. 

Photo by Hannah Mulligan Photography. 

3. What is the first question you like to ask a couple when you meet with them?

I love finding out how the couple met. Just hearing that story can tell me so much about them, and it’s so interesting to learn where they first met, and how the relationship developed.  I have clients who met while visiting or studying across the world, and those that grew up together. Second question, at least for destination brides, is why New Orleans? Most of the time, it’s because the couple has visited here and has great memories, and wants to share that with their guests. 

4. I’d love for you to share a bit more about your event aesthetic with us. Pick one photo that you think sums it up for us, and tell us why:

I would describe my event aesthetic as natural and minimal.  This photo is from a photoshoot I designed, which I think exemplifies my event aesthetic—I always want to work with the venue and surroundings, whether that be a beach like this photo, or an old building in the French Quarter.  Here, the table just fits in with the beach, from the colors, to the simplicity of the table settings and florals. There is beauty in simplicity, and I don’t like over-style.  I think this helps to create timeless events that will be just as beautiful and tasteful years from now. 

Photo by Lance Nicoll Photography, florals by Leaf + Petal Nola. 

Photo by Lance Nicoll Photography, florals by Leaf + Petal Nola. 

5. Let’s talk 2016 trends. What are you seeing? What trends do you think will stick around?

I’m seeing some great trends that I don’t think are going anywhere soon. I personally hope loose, natural floral bouquets and arrangements never go away! I also love how couples are incorporating details into their reception to make sure their guests have a great time—my favorite is a pre-ceremony cocktail!  Another thing I’m seeing are couples breaking with tradition, which I think can be a great thing. No one should feel pressured to toss a bouquet, do a first dance, or have a cake if you hate wedding cake—it’s your wedding, do what you want! 

Photo by Brittany Schlamp Photography; bouquet by Antigua Floral + Styling. 

Photo by Brittany Schlamp Photography; bouquet by Antigua Floral + Styling. 

6. If you weren’t a wedding planner, what would you want to do for a living?

Flipping houses for sure! I love interior design as much as wedding design, and I’ve had a great time renovating my current house and the condo I lived in prior. I love planning out and seeing the changes, but I also don’t mind getting dirty and doing some of the work.  I actually love painting walls and find it therapeutic! 

7. Share a memory from a recent wedding.

I did a wedding a couple of weeks ago for an amazing couple, they were happy and smiling all day, and spent all night on the dance floor.  New Orleans was a destination wedding for them, so of course they wanted to do a second line.  They came back from the second line on such a high, which you can probably only understand if you’ve done one before, and the bride told me “I don’t know why everyone doesn’t get married here so they can do this!” 

8. New Orleans is such an amazing city! What do you like to do on your days off?
Sundays after weddings are pretty much t.v. and Netflix! But I love shopping on Magazine Street, checking out smaller festivals around town, and listening to music on Frenchmen Street. I don’t do it too often, but every once in a while it’s nice to spend a day in the French Quarter and just take in the sounds and feel like a tourist.  

9. What is your favorite venue in the area?

Such a tough question! There are so many beautiful venues here with different attributes that make them great.  And, it keeps this job interesting to be able to work and design at different venues all the time.  If I have to choose one, it would be Il Mercato. Aesthetically, it fits well with my personal style, the people are great to work with it, and it has what a lot of my clients are looking for—a beautiful indoor space but also a large enough courtyard for an outdoor ceremony.  

Photo by Lauren Carroll Photography at Il Mercato Nola. 

Photo by Lauren Carroll Photography at Il Mercato Nola. 

10. What makes New Orleans “home” for you?

I moved to New Orleans a little over eight years ago and it’s definitely home, but it’s hard to describe why! I think people have always had trouble putting into words what makes New Orleans great because it’s intangible.  Obviously it’s incredibly unique, but I think it’s more the way that living here feels that makes it home.  I can’t imagine living anywhere else because I would feel like I was missing out! 

Thanks for the questions, Helen!

Borrowed & Blue is a great place to find New Orleans wedding photographers—be sure to check them out.