Tipping is always a tricky business, but it can be even more problematic when tipping wedding photographers. While there are standard methods for listing some wedding vendors, good etiquette isn’t one-size-fits-all when it comes to your photographer. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography. To minimise any confusion, here’s a look at your options:
Should You Tip Your Wedding Photographer?
Tipping is totally down to personal preference. In wedding photography, tipping is never expected, but it is certainly appreciated. A wedding photographer will never take offence if they do not receive a tip. It is mostly down to personal preference and whether you are simply the type to show appreciation tips!
Generally speaking, a tip is not standard practice. I would say that only about 20% of all wedding clients give me advice.
Tips vary greatly. This is a sign that there is no real standard practice. A very general guideline amount for tipping wedding photographers in the United States was given by The Knot. Their guide was to tip $50 – $200.
Not the type to tip at every opportunity? No problem. There are many other ways to say thank you. Thanking your photographer for the service they provided does not have to be in a monetary format. A tip is sometimes a gesture that many couples would like to make – but after the expense of a wedding, there is simply not the opportunity to do so. We feel you there!
As with many traditional wedding practices, the lines of tipping at modern weddings have become a little blurred. No longer do all the “you must” and “you must not” wedding rules apply.
The general rule of thumb: if a vendor owns his/her own business, tipping isn’t necessary. If someone is the employee of someone else, tipping is more likely to be expected (but still not required).
Like always, tipping is (or should be) a sign of appreciation. Even with these guidelines, tipping isn’t required. There are a few instances when the vendor, so considerate, may expect it. Hair and makeup, transportation, bartending, and catering are services where tipping is somewhat likely. For this reason, gratuity is often included in the final bill. If not, you’ll want to consider doing so yourself.
Under What Circumstances Should You To Tip And Not Tip?
There’s no need to work a tip for your photographer into your wedding budget unless you feel strongly about it. Unlike many other service professionals, photographers are paid enough to make a living without the addition of a tip.
However, if you feel a photographer has gone above and beyond, then a tip recognises that extra level of service.
For example, a photographer throws in an extra half hour on your wedding day without charging overage fees (that would set you back $250)? A tip recognises this and the extra hours of work associated with that half an hour of shooting time.
A photographer lends you and sets up equipment that is beyond what’s stated in their contract so that you could stream your wedding? They have saved you a lot of money, so tip them!
You have asked for multiple phone calls, venue visits and extra meetings that are above and beyond what’s usually offered (and which photographers do not charge for)? A tip compensates them for the spare time they ungrudgingly gave to you.
That said, I am not trying to suggest with sleight-of-hand, that in fact, all circumstances somehow do merit a tip after all. I have a separate post that deals with the economics of wedding vendor pricing.
They Were Amazing.
Even if a tip isn’t technically required, consider tipping vendors who went above and beyond for you. Especially if they’ve been working with you in the months leading up to the wedding – like your planner – it’s thoughtful to show your appreciation.
That doesn’t just go for planners, either. If your cake artist, photographer, videographer, or florist just blew you away with more than you ever dreamed, now’s your chance to show how much you loved and appreciated them!
Before You Tip
You’ve already spent a pretty penny on your wedding, so before tipping photographers—or any wedding vendor, for that matter—consider the following:
Did They Provide Exceptional Service?
Don’t go passing out tips before services are rendered. Both wedding vendors who count on suggestions and those who don’t should prove they deserve the additional reward. While you hope all your vendors do their job to the best of their ability, an impending tip can be a powerful incentive to go above and beyond. You should never feel forced to tip professionals that don’t fulfil their obligations or meet your expectations. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
Do They Own Their Own Business?
It is not expected to tip any vendors that own their own business. These professionals have already determined what they think is appropriate for their services by setting their rates. Most photographers own their companies and thus, fall into this category. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider tipping them if they do an excellent job.
What’s in The Contract?
Whether you book a wedding photography collective or directly with a photographer, it’s essential to read through your contract before making any sort of decision around tipping. Some businesses will include gratuity in their fees, so you don’t need to worry about it. Others will leave the amount and manner of compensation up to you. Once you have gone over the contract with your wedding photographer and determined whether or not it states gratuity is included, you can move on to figuring out who, when, and what to tip.
Who gives them out?
If you will give a tip and have budgeted for it, make sure you designate a point person to give out prizes.
This person is usually a wedding planner. It’s a regular part of their job to deal with tipping the vendors. However, many couples do not have planners, so a parent or bridesmaid is the right candidate for distributing tips. The trick is to remember to hand them out just before each vendor’s scheduled departure time. Otherwise, you’ll be going home with that tip which will never find its way to the vendor afterwards.
Delegate someone else to be in charge of handing out tips on the wedding day. Stash your cash tip in an envelope, clearly label the outside, and give instructions for when to hand them out to each vendor. Often the wedding planner will be in charge of making sure they get to the right place. Otherwise, a trusted family member or even a groomsman could be delegated for the task.
Who to Tip
There are no hard and fast rules, but here’s what we recommend:
Like we mentioned before, most photographers own their businesses, so tipping isn’t required by any means. However, if your photographer went above and beyond what was required of them, a tip is a great way to show your appreciation—even if they are the business owner. If your photographer does not own their own business, it’s a good idea to tip them. Your photographs will be your most treasured wedding keepsake. Not sure where to start when it comes to looking for your wedding photographer of choice?
The Second Shooter
Your photographer doesn’t always work alone. Having a second shooter or photography assistant is the norm. Tipping each of these additional team members is appropriate when they provide added value.
How Much to Tip
For your photographer, a 10 per cent tip on their rate is a good measure or an end of at least $100. For second shooters and photography assistants, a $50 to $75 tip per person is appropriate and excellent.
When to Tip
If the tip wasn’t included as part of the vendor’s fees, it is appropriate to information on the wedding day after all services have been completed. Prepare recommendations in advance by pulling out cash and placing it in envelopes designated for each vendor you plan to tip. Assign the task of handing out tips to a trusted family member, friend, or your wedding coordinator.
Occasionally, couples tip during the payment process, which is done online before the wedding. It’s always OK to ask your photographer what they would prefer if you want to give a tip.
Since you will continue to communicate with your photographer after the wedding day to receive photos, it is appropriate to wait to tip your photographer. You can send the information or another form of gratuity in the mail when you return from your honeymoon or wait until you receive your photos to send a genuine thank you once all of their work is finished.
The strange thing about tipping is that we tip based on the service rather than the outcome. But uniquely with photography, their services’ work is not seen for several weeks or even months. The trip’s purpose is to thank your photographer for the service and help they have provided in the run-up to the day – and the big day itself. It’s not a way of signifying approval of the finished photos.
Other Vendors to Tip
Not all wedding vendors receive tips, but there are a token few you shouldn’t forget about. We’ve outlined them for you here. Any vendors that fall under the optional category, let the quality of service you receive help you decide who—and how much—to tip.
Hair and Makeup Artist
These pros help you look your best and expect a tip. For how much to tip, consider the amount you would typically give to any beauty professional—15 to 25 per cent is a beautiful gesture. You can tip the full amount or ask each of your bridesmaids/family members to list individually. When? After services are provided.
The caterer and staff, such as the waiters and bartender, should be at the top of your list to tip. Make sure gratuity isn’t already included, and if it isn’t clear in the contract (“service charge” does not mean compensation), check with the catering company or manager. When? At the end of the reception.
You should also tip the band members, violinists, and DJ if they aren’t the business owner. They did help set the mood, after all. When? Before the ceremony, musicians leave on the wedding day.
If your venue offers valet, cover the tips ahead of time, so your guests don’t have to. If you hire a valet company yourself, gratuity will likely be included. You can provide a lump sum tip to the parking attendants or the venue to distribute evenly amongst the attendants.
If you decide to hire a wedding videographer and photographer, you don’t have to tip wedding videographers, but a $100 to $200 cash tip for exceptional service is appropriate. There’s no standard since business owners are not usually listed. Give what you feel is right, or give a gift instead! If they went above and beyond, this is another area you may want to consider a tip or a gift. They’re at your side from the beginning of the day until the end and often spend a lot of time with you before the wedding, similar to your planner. When? At the end of the reception or in the mail after the honeymoon. We have the best wedding photographer in Yarra Valley to capture your beautiful moments on your wedding day.
Tipping your wedding coordinator is optional, but if you were happy with the service he or she provided, a 10 to 20 per cent tip is a great way to show your appreciation. You can choose to tip 15% of the total fee, or up to $500. Since this tip is optional, they will appreciate any amount. This is one area where you may still want to consider information or a gift of appreciation, though! When? At the end of the reception or in the mail after the honeymoon.
Delivery and Set-Up Team
Optional. How much? $5-$10 per staff member. When? After the delivery or set up. Give the envelopes to whoever will be accepting deliveries to hand out to staff members.
Optional. If they spent time in pre-marital counselling or provided their services for free, consider a donation to their place of worship instead. When? At the rehearsal dinner, if giving a personal tip. After the honeymoon, if sent directly to a place of worship.
Optional. How much? No set amount since it’s not expected. $50-100 is a nice gesture if you’ve been impressed with their work and service. When? They may be at the venue only briefly, so they may be mailed after the honeymoon if you couldn’t catch them on the wedding day.
Optional How much? $20-25 per musician; up to $150 for a single DJ. When? At the end of the reception.
Expected. Check to see if gratuity is already included in the contract and final bill. How much? 15% or $25-50. When? After the last ride of the evening.
No, You Don’t Have to Tip.
When it comes to your wedding, you have enough to worry about, so don’t lose sleep over tipping etiquette. Remember, everyone tips differently, and vendors know this too. To who and how much your information is always up to you. And frankly, sometimes it’s just not in the wedding budget. However, if you can’t tip wedding vendors or all of your wedding vendors, be sure to show appreciation for their work in other ways.
Showing Appreciation Doesn’t Always Have To Be Cash.
Tipping isn’t always the most valuable way of showing your appreciation! A referral is the ‘tip’ that keeps on giving. Making it a point to share your photographer’s information with friends and family members who are getting married soon is something any photographer values. If you simply don’t have the budget to give your favourite vendors cash tips, there are other ways to show your appreciation.
Other Ways to Thank Your Photographer
While tipping your photographer is a great way to show your appreciation, it isn’t the only way. You can show your gratitude in other meaningful ways.
A Thank-You Note
Don’t underestimate the power of a good thank you note. Snail mail is still one of the most thoughtful ways to show appreciation. While you’re busy sending thank you cards to your guests, add your photographer’s name to the list. Whether you’ve thanked them in person and tipped them already or not, they will surely appreciate it. Tell them what you enjoy most about their services and that you were thankful to have them as part of your wedding. It will make their day! Looking for a Mornington Peninsula wedding photographer? Look no further! Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
Writing a review is also an excellent way of showing your photographer you care about them! It takes you 15 minutes to register and will help increase the visibility of their business online, bolster trust and provide excellent social proof for years to come. That is beyond anything that can even be purchased! Writing a kind and detailed review for your vendors is always appreciated and doesn’t cost anything.
Want to go above and beyond? Ask if your photographer would like a video testimonial that they can use in their marketing. A simple video made on your phone is helpful because it conveys authentic praise from a real client.
Reviews and references will also help your photographer book future couples and bolster their reputation within the industry. Writing a glowing review on a wedding website of your photographer’s choosing is another excellent way to show your appreciation.
You can also offer to write an accolade for their website or serve as a reference for future couples. Many potential clients want to hear from past teams, and tales of your positive experience can help your photographer win their business.
With all the time your photographer puts into both taking and editing your photos until they are perfect, it’s understandable that they want to hear what you think. If you are in love with how the images turned out, don’t be shy about letting them know. Your positive feedback is a sure way to make them feel both valued and encouraged. But don’t stop there.
When you share your photos with family and friends on social media, be sure to tag your photographer so they receive credit for their beautiful work. They will experience the joy of seeing their work shared and may even gain new clients from the exposure.
A Small, Inexpensive Gift
I have received lovely gifts from clients too, which have made me very happy! A well-chosen gift does not have to cost very much but can make us feel so appreciated. A thoughtful gift instead of a cash tip gives you more creativity in showing your appreciation. If you know a little about them, find something that reflects something they love. Their dog, travelling, coffee, cooking. Jump on their website or Instagram for some ideas. If you can’t think of anything unique, a gift card to a restaurant or local boutique is always a winner.
Sending flowers, treats, or the like is always a thoughtful way to say “Thank You.” Suppose you know your photographer’s favourite flower or treat even better. They won’t forget the time and money you put into sending a personal gift they can use or enjoy.
Email Of Thanks Or A Greetings Card
You’d be surprised how many times we send off a client’s gallery and never hear from them again. All those hours and days of work and we are left thinking, ‘did they like the photos? Did I do right by them? Are they going to ask for changes or the dreaded more photos?’
A heartfelt thank you email that signals your happiness with our services is the best way of concluding the transaction—no need to get your wallet out.
You can give a greeting card at the wedding or send it along by mail afterwards with your thank-you cards to guests. Many photographers keep all physical correspondence they receive from clients as little souvenirs. These mementos can keep us going when things are tough. So, never underestimate how long a simple card, postcard or note of thanks can go.
Referrals – tell your friends!
This is even better than any tip you could ever give a wedding professional! Many future weddings come from word of mouth from past brides, their families, and their wedding guests. If you loved your vendor, tell your friends why they were a fantastic choice. The more specific you are in talking about your experience, the more your friends will be able to envision themselves with that vendor, as well.
Submit Your Photos to a Wedding Publication
Landing a feature for your photographer can be a great way to show your appreciation and help their business succeed. Just be sure to communicate with them before submitting your wedding to an online or print publication.
Your photographer puts a lot of time and energy into photographing your big day. The moments they capture will hang on your mantle and grace your desktop background for years to come, so don’t be shy about showing them a little extra appreciation. Whether you do so with a generous tip, kind words, or a thoughtful gift, a little gratitude goes a long way. If you maintain a great relationship with your photographer, they can be part of your life for a long time to come. Hey, they may even capture the wedding of a friend or your family photos later on in life.
A Few Last Tips (no pun intended!)
- Check each vendor’s contract (or ask) to see if gratuity is already included. Catering, bartenders, and transportation often have bonuses in the final bill.
- The exact amount you give isn’t as significant as the gesture. You’ll find a slightly different amount of suggestions depending on who you ask. Don’t stress much about whether the proper amount is 20% of the total bill. Take a look at the typical recommended amount, decide what works in your budget, and include a “thank you” with whatever amount you give.
- If you’re planning to tip the bartender, valet, or coat attendants, you may want to include a little sign that tells your guests the tip has been taken care of. Your guests may be trying to tip, not knowing that you’ve already done so.
Tipping etiquette can be a little vague, so we hope this gives you an idea of what to expect! Tipping is not mandatory, even when a vendor may be expecting it. You have the freedom to use your judgement!
If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
Use tips to show your appreciation for how a vendor served you on the wedding day and beyond. If you don’t want to offend but aren’t sure what certain vendors expect (like your catering staff and hair and makeup artist), you can always ask!