I know you’ve been looking forward to your wedding day for some time now. Planning has taken you months, if not years. From your venue to your first pick photographer to the DJ that will keep the dance floor hopping. The perfect stationery and the flowers to match. The hairstyles, the outfits, and even the favors. Everything has been meticulously picked and put together to reflect your vision.
As the day gets closer you start to get back your RSVPs and you get a little more excited with each one. You slowly start to see everything coming together and everyone there that you love celebrating you two. Then one day it’s all gone.
My Heart Goes Out To You
This pandemic has come at the worst possible time for weddings in Ohio. It impacts so many and you are one of the hundreds if not thousands of couples who will be affected by this. Whether you have already made the choice to postpone or are patiently waiting to hear if your wedding day will move forward. My heart goes out to you.
I know you are probably working through so many emotions right now. Anger, frustration, disappointment, and sadness. You are crushed and at the same time feel guilty. Your wedding day is the most important day for you right now, but people are losing their jobs and even their lives. Don’t get me wrong, yes it can seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, but you are valid in your feelings too.
I can also tell you that it’s going to be OK. Your perfect person will still be there with you at the end of this. Your big day will still happen. It may not be on the date you picked, but it will still be on a perfect day. Your family will have even more reason to celebrate with you. You will come out of this stronger and even more ready to get married.
I know it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and that things seem really hard and heavy right now. I know that you’re heart may be breaking, but take a step back and breathe. Look over at your perfect person as you read this and remember the real reason you are doing this. To marry them. Although it may not be exactly as you have envisioned, it will still happen and it will be just as perfect.
First thing I must say when tipping your wedding professional team, please remember that it is not a mandatory expense. Gratuities should only be given to those wedding professionals who have gone above and beyond their contracted duties. Small business owners should never be overlooked since their businesses are often run by just one person. Before dishing out gratuity, double-check your contracts. Some professionals will include it in their contract, and I wouldn’t want you double tipping. Also, keep in mind that this is a guide. There really is no set number in what you should tip. You tip what you want, and trust me, any tip a vendor gets will be a surprise.
Lastly, a review is the BEST tip you can give any vendor. So if you cannot tip monetarily, PLEASE remember to at least leave them a glowing review.
THE MYTH ABOUT NOT TIPPING OWNERS
It is not uncommon to read articles that tell you that IF the individual providing the service is also the owner of the company, you do not technically need to tip them. Here is my take on that:
If you were to go out to eat, you would not tip the owner of the restaurant, right? But if the owner was also the person taking your order, making sure you’re taken care of, bringing your food and topping off your drinks, then you would absolutely give them a tip.
It’s my opinion that it works the same for your wedding pros.
If you are using a DJ who is subcontracted to work for a company, you would tip the DJ, not the owner. But if the owner was also the DJ working with you throughout the process AND their playing some killer tunes on your wedding day and keeping all of your guests on the dance floor all night long, then it’s a great idea to pass along a tip to them.
How Much: $50 if you’re married by a judge, clerk or officiant. Clergy members, in general, don’t accept tips, so instead, make a donation to the appropriate house of worship.
MAITRE D’ OR VENUE COORDINATOR
Sometimes referred to as a “Captain” or banquet manager. This tip may already be included in your total agreement with the catering company and/or venue. Be sure to check first.
How Much: $1 – $2 per guest
SERVERS & WAIT STAFF
Look this over carefully PRIOR to the wedding day to avoid double-tipping or forgetting to give them a tip. It may already be included in your caterer or venue contract. If it is not clear whether a tip is provided or how many staff members there will be, ask your contact with that company. Also, keep in mind that a “service charge” is often different than a tip.
How Much: $15-30 per staff member
You may wish to have a “tip jar” out on the bar where your guests can choose to tip their bartenders. I’m not a huge fan of this, but it’s a personal preference. Just remember if you do not wish to have a tip jar out, that you should then take care of a tip for the bartenders on your guests’ behalf (if it’s not included in your contract). Inform the bartenders of your intent to tip after the reception, and request that they refuse tips from guests.
How Much: 10-15% of the total pre-tax bar bill, which should be split among the bartenders. OR $40-$75 per bartender
DJ & EMCEES
How Much: 10%-15% of the cost of services up to $150
BANDS, LIVE MUSICIANS & ENTERTAINERS
How Much: $20-$50 per entertainer
HAIR STYLISTS, MAKE-UP ARTISTS & OTHER BEAUTY TECHNICIANS
How Much: 15-20% of the cost of services
DRIVERS FOR LIMOS, SHUTTLES, BUSSES, TROLLEYS, ETC.
The total tip amount depends on the extent to which they are driving you and/or your guests. Are they just making a few trips, or are they working all day?
How Much: If it is not included in the contract, $50-100 per driver
VALETS, COAT CHECK OR BATHROOM ATTENDANTS
Display a sign stating that gratuities have been taken care of. The staff should also be instructed to refuse any tips offered by guests.
How Much: $1 – $3 per guest, to be split
DELIVERY PERSON FOR FLORALS, RENTALS, CAKE, ETC.
It is not “required” or common to tip these individuals, but a small gratuity is always a nice touch.
How Much: $5 – $20 per person, depending on much heavy-lifting they’re doing
These pros will often be spending the most time with you throughout the day and it’s important to appreciate their hard work and attention to detail. If they will be having any assistants, you can also extend an optional tip to them.
How Much: 5% – 10% of the cost of services – $25-$50+ per assistant, depending on their level of involvement
HOW YOU SHOULD GIVE YOUR WEDDING TEAM THEIR TIPS
It’s most ideal to pass along your wedding vendor tips (and final payments if necessary) to your wedding planner/coordinator or to a trusted family member (like mom or dad). That way you won’t be worrying about getting it to them while you’re occupied with your big day. Make sure they are in sealed envelopes with the person’s name and/or role written on it so that there is no confusion.
The wedding cake. A staple of a wedding celebration and most people expect to see one. But today people need to throw their expectations out the window. Don’t get me wrong, about 80% of my couples opt for a wedding cake, but the other 20% have something different. From cupcakes to donuts to pies to cookies…..desserts at a wedding are now more of a reflection of the couple.
The first thing you need to do before you start shopping for your dessert is to decide what you want. This is because a lot of bakers can do many different types of desserts, but some only offer cakes, or cupcakes, or cookies, etc. So it is important to know the type of dessert you want so you don’t waste your or their time if they can’t make the type of dessert you’re looking for.
Then comes the fun part, the tastings. Dive right in here and try out a few different places. Reach out to them before you head out and make sure that they offer tastings and how they work.
Almost all places need you to give them advance notice. Some require an appointment, some send it home with you to do on your own, some have monthly events you have to sign up to attend. Keep in mind that some places do charge. You are picking up a product that they cannot get back and this is a very reasonable request. Some even take the cost of the tasting off of your final bill if you go with them.
Questions to Ask Your Baker
Most importantly, have a list of questions you want to ask. Here are a few examples of questions to ask before you schedule your tasting or while you are meeting with them.
What flavors and options do you offer?
What will the estimated price of our cake/desserts be?
What are your payment requirements? (aka deposit, final payment due, etc.)
Do you offer other desserts as well?
Do you offer cake/display stand rentals?
Do you offer organic, vegan, or gluten-free options?
How do we choose a design?
Will the cake be finished with buttercream or fondant?
Is there a delivery fee?
How far in advance will our cake be prepared?
If you don’t know what places to start talking to, give me a call. All of my couples receive a recommended vendors list that includes professionals I have personally worked with and love what they do.
This one topic right here only has one right answer, and that answer is the one that works best for you. I know, that’s not really an answer, but it’s 100% true. Look, as a wedding planner, I love when my couples rent their linens. In fact, it’s almost one of those things I want to require my couples to do. But I also know that not all budgets allow it and sometimes you HAVE to buy your linens. So let me show you the pros and cons of both options so that you can decide for yourself.
Saving money – let’s face it, buying your own linens is financially cheaper
You have the product in hand and know what you will be getting
Setting it up yourself will let you see everything laid out and know it is done how you want it done.
Many options to choose from because you can purchase from any company that sells linens.
Resell – once the wedding is over you can sell them to another couple getting married to recoup some of your money.
Storage – they take up a lot of space, especially after you go through the list below.
Washing – every linen comes with a chemical on it that you HAVE to wash off before use. You can do it in your washer, about 3-4 linens per load or pay someone at anywhere between $5-15 per linen.
Ironing/Steaming – wrinkles, creases, you name it, you want them out as much as possible.
Transportation – you have to get them to the location, again, they take up A LOT of room. At the end of the night, they take up double the room as they are no longer folded.
Setting Up – you have to set the linens. This takes A LOT of time and it has to be done before anything else can be set.
Teardown – You have to tear down the linens at the end of a long night.
Washing (AGAIN) – After the wedding, you need to wash them again unless you plan on throwing them out. Again that is washing about 3-4 at a time or paying about $5-15 per linen to have them done.
Reselling – Finding someone that wants your linens isn’t as easy as it sounds. If they’re basic white, you have better odds. But if they are colored or patterned linen, it becomes harder and you sit on them for a lot longer. And not everyone needs the exact number you have, so you may have to split and sell in smaller sets and just hope that you sell them all.
Design help – almost all professionals that rent linens will help bring your look, feel and design together with their linens.
Other rentals – most companies that rent linens rent other items you may need for decor and so you can see it all put together and get it all from one place.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, ALL OF THE CONS ABOVE YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH – AND TIME IS MONEY.
Financially it costs more
Like I said before, I know that not everyone has the budget to rent linens, or finds that linens are not a priority in their wedding planning. And that’s ok. But if you are even debating between renting or buying your linens, I cannot stress it enough how much work is truly involved with linens. And as the wedding gets closer, your time will become more precious and you will not want to be dealing with all of your linens on your wedding day. So take it from a professional wedding planner, RENT!
Wedding planning is a series of interviews with professionals that will provide you with a service on your big day. But what do you need to be asking? For instance, you know you want pictures of your wedding, but how do you sift through the hundreds of available photographers in your area? I guarantee there are hundreds of them but I also guarantee there is one out there for you. Just like your perfect person, it may take time, but you will find them.
First Things First
Before you even start interviewing them there are two things you MUST do. First, set your budget. Second, find the style that speaks to you.
But how do you set your budget without knowing what something costs? Join local wedding planning groups on platforms like Facebook and ask around in there. Keep in mind that the amount of time they’re needed for and their experience are just two things that will change the cost of a photographer. But it will at least get you a starting point. Another way is to reach out to photographers and get pricing. Some will charge a vastly different price, but you will see the middle ground on what’s average. Then once you have that information, take a step back and decide how much photography really means to you. That will at least give you a starting price to begin with.
As for style, scour the internet. Look at Pinterest and wedding blogs and websites. Look at everything and collect examples of images that warm your heart and you want for your wall. Then find photographers who have a similar style. Photography is an art form and although they are taking pictures that you want, they instill their artwork into each one. So search and find the one and then trust them to do their finest.
You have your budget and style, now what?
Now you start talking to them, in person. Set up consultations to meet them and see their full portfolio. Make sure you see at least one full portfolio of a wedding. I mean I can take some pretty shots, but if you saw the amount of photos I deleted to get there, you would know I am an amateur. Seeing a portfolio from an entire wedding shows you how they will capture the entire day and shows you what they are truly capable of. Posed shots are one thing, action shots are entirely different. And so it’s important to see them all.
As you sit down with them, come prepared with questions you want to ask. There will be some that are very specific to your needs. But as a good basis, here are some questions to keep in mind when you’re talking with them:
What does the package include and how much is it?
What happens if we need additional hours on wedding day?
Do you include engagement and/or bridal sessions in the package?
Will we receive digital files, or prints/albums?
Can we purchase additional files/prints and for how much?
How long will we wait to receive our photos after the wedding?
Have you worked at our venue before?
How many weddings have you done (and can we see samples of your work)?
Describe your photography style.
Will you be the one photographing our wedding?
Do you bring an assistant/second photographer?
You’re Not The Only One
An important thing to note is that you are not the only person they are talking to about your wedding date. So if you really like them, book them. Photographers are one of the first vendors to be booked by couples, so don’t miss out on the right one.
Also remember with that, that they’re interviewing you as well. They want to make sure (as any wedding professional will) that you and your dream day work with them, their personality and their style. So be prepared for interesting questions. I myself have a questionnaire that I send to my couples before we meet with questions about where they shop, and what they like to do for fun. It just one way to make sure that working together will be a fun experience for everyone involved.