Gratuity for wedding and event vendors is a subject that has various opinions, from various people. If you're planning a wedding, quinceanera or event, in our market (Austin & central Texas), or anywhere, then you're likely wondering about gratuity for all your vendors. Be sure to read every contract, thoroughly. Many vendors actually require a certainly percentage for gratuity, and it's stated right in their contracts. We often see 18% - 20% added on to the total bill.
Is this fair? Depending on who you're asking, the answers will vary. My thoughts are, what if you're not happy with your service? Are you still required to give a tip? That part doesn't seem fair to us. Tipping should be completely optional, and it is with us. We certainly are always happy to receive gratuity, but it's never a requirement. We do encourage our clients to tip, if they feel like the service deserves it.
We are aware that many companies are owned and managed by completely different people than who will actually work your event, so this is a way for those companies to offer a nice incentive to their employees, as part of working with the company. The people who actually work your event usually get paid a small fraction of what your total cost is, in most cases. So gratuity is certainly appreciated by those staff members, of course.
I won't take a side on whether a company should pay their staff more, to avoid the staff from depending on tips, but for us, this is what we choose to do. We want our staff and clients to be happy. We pay our DJ and photo booth staff very well, in order to keep them happy and so that they don't have to depend on a tip. If they do get a tip, it's a nice bonus, but never expected.
Our one suggestion would be for brides, grooms, parents, or whomever hired the staff, to actually be the ones to give the tips. It's much more meaningful and appreciated when the client(s) directly give(s) a tip and mentions how happy they were with the service. We know that people are busy at the end of the night, but it's certainly a nice gesture and is always appreciated.
Another reason we encourage clients to directly give tips, is to consider the possibility of the planner or coordinator losing the tips. This has actually happened at one of our events. The coordinator came up to us at the end of the night and asked if we saw any money on the floor. We didn't. She said, "well, I had the tips, but I think they fell out of my pocket." She then proceeded to give us a crinkled up $20 bill and said, "here's your tip. I didn't lose your tip, I lost mine." We thought it was odd, but just said "thank you." We then helped her look around, but didn't find anything. We're not saying that this will happen, but know that it can; it only happened to us, once.
Additionally, we've also had a few brides and grooms come up to us, at the end of the night, thank us, and say, "I left your tip with the coordinator." We of course said thank you, but never actually received a tip from the coordinator. When we mentioned it, the coordinator said "they never gave me a tip, sorry." We left it alone, but this has happened a few times. We're not suggesting that anyone was lying, but we thought it was strange that this happened. The good thing is, we set our rates so that we don't depend on tips. So if we get a tip, great. If not, that's fine, too. :)
Overall, be sure to thoroughly read your contracts and find out exactly what is required. Ask questions about the requirements and be sure to ask "what happens if I'm not happy with the service or product?" If you're completely happy with your service, sure, feel free to tip. In lieu of a tip, it's always nice to leave a review for your vendor. For us, great reviews are just as appreciated as gratuity!
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