Tipping and service charge in weddings

I was recently asked by some clients about tipping for service for their wedding and it got me thinking it would be a good idea to do a post on this subject to gauge opinion in the industry over here.  What I personally see out there is a huge disparity in tipping policy amongst suppliers. I have never seen any supplier other than a venue with in-house catering/restaurant/hotel ask for gratuity or service charge. Where a venue does ask for it it tends to be a rather high 12.5% of the bill so is clearly a part of their pricing structure. In most cases a tip is not requested but is it expected?  

Again my experience is no, not really. What I do think though is that it can and should be used if the service has been exemplary and is more of a gesture and thank you than any set figure or percentage of the bill.  I have advised clients who have wanted to tip to give a certain amount broken down into smaller notes/quantities so that it can easily be shared amongst the waiting staff on the night, many of whom can sometimes be young people, who would greatly appreciate the extra bonus for working hard.  I’ve never suggested tipping other wedding suppliers, mainly as most of them are smaller, owner-managed companies who would not expect it.  I find what is far more valuable to these folk are thank yous, appreciation and acknowledgement via a written thank you. This is of marketing benefit to them also for future business which to the typical wedding supplier is worth its weight in gold.  

What’s your experience and view on tipping? I know it’s vastly different in different countries (the US in particular) and vastly different in certain cultures also?  It would be great to have a discussion on this.

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  1. Helen on 20th July 2012 at 1:45 am

    Being in the US this is now even more of an interesting topic for discussion! I was once ‘tipped’ by my clients at the end of their wedding day – it was one of my first weddings and it was such a surprise that I didn’t really know what to do! Quite often my clients give me a gift after their wedding as a thank you, which I suppose could be seen as a form of tipping – I always find it this very touching and a really thoughtful gesture.

    I don’t think any service providers expct to be tipped (like you say, venues/caterers tend to add on or incorporate a service charge into the quote). If they’ve gone above and beyond then a little extra something is always nice and appreciated, but I always tell my clients it’s down to their discretion. Often a heartfelt thank you note can mean just as much, if not more.

    In the US, however, it’s very different. On top of any quote I would say you need to factor in a tip – 15-20% is about standard, and that can make a big difference to your overall costs. Tipping isn’t something you need to budget for in the UK, but you definitely need to factor it in over here!

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