Wedding professionals should not expect tips, but somewhere along the way it has become expected. This opinion will likely get me in trouble; my wedding professional friends may take issue. It won’t be the first time – and with any luck, not the last either.
According to legend, the word “tip” came from a pub owner who used the acronym “To Insure Promptness.” In that spirit, tipping should be thought of first and foremost as a reward for prompt and attentive service.
Gratuity is a gift
According to dictionary.com, the definition of gratuity is:
- A gift of money, over and above payment due for service, as to a waiter or bellhop; tip.
- Something given without claim or demand.
Nowhere does it say tips are required. A Gratuity is a gift, something nice you do for someone who has provided you exceptional service, or gone above and beyond what is reasonably expected for the fee for their work. It’s a means of showing appreciation; not a way to get a higher payment for work they were already paid to do.
If the wedding professionals you are using are honorable and professional, their fees are fair and appropriate for the goods and services. If the amount they quote sounds too good to be true, it is. They may be charging less to get your business and then planning to guilt you into to making that up with gratuities. These are not the people you should hire. But sadly they are out there.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate client gifts and tips for my staff and vendor team. It is wonderful recognition. What makes me nuts is when a vendor asks how much do you think this client will tip? My answer: “I don’t know. What remarkable things are you going to do beyond what they are paying you to do to deserve a tip?”
Tipping can break the bank
I don’t provide a tipping chart or guidelines to clients. When they ask about tipping, and they always do. I tell them what I’m telling you. Look into your heart. If you feel someone has gone above and beyond, if they made your day better, if they solved a problem you didn’t see coming, then give an amount that the kindness is worth to you. If they press for a number I say start with $50, it’s not an outrageous sum, but it shows appreciation. You can always go up if you feel they deserve more.
Another reason tipping is an issue for me most clients are spending tens of thousands of dollars on their weddings. Tipping can break the bank; allow me to do the math for you.
If your wedding costs $50,000 and we add 15% to account for the “standard” tipping formula, you just added $7,500 to the expense of the wedding. If you only have $50,000 to spend, tipping reduces spending power to $42,500. In some cases, that is the difference between hiring someone like me or not.
I admit the example is a little self-serving, but can you see why I don’t like it? The money you spend on your wedding should go to things that will make your day enjoyable and memorable, not to someone who expects more than they deserve.
Note: In the hospitality industry the word gratuity is often used interchangeably with, service charge. In this case it does not mean tip, it means an additional fee to cover other things. It could be staff or any number of other items. Always ask for an explanation if you see either gratuity or service charge on an invoice. It does not mean they are doing anything wrong I feel you should understand all items on a bill before you pay it. If you have a professional wedding planner, they will explain all the costs.
A little about Gwen: I launched Where to Start in 1991. My corporate world experience taught me the management skills necessary to work with multiple vendors and get the best for my clients. In addition, my broadcasting and theater studies in college play an important role in how I see weddings.
I love getting to know my clients – finding out what makes them happy, what they love in life and about each other. I combine this knowledge with my experience to create your perfect wedding.
I hope you will allow me the privilege of helping you create your perfect wedding.