Tipping is always tricky business, but when it comes to tipping wedding photographers, it can be even trickier. While there are standard methods for tipping some wedding vendors, good etiquette isn’t one-size-fits-all when it comes to your photographer. To minimize any confusion, here’s a look at your options:

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 tips 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 fulfill their obligations or meet your expectations.

Should You Tip Wedding Photographers Photo Credit // Towards The Moon

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 own businesses, 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 important to read through your contract before making any sort of decision around tipping. Some businesses will include gratuity in their fees, in which case you don’t need to worry about it. Others will leave the amount and manner of gratuity 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 to Tip

There are no hard and fast rules, but here’s what we recommend:

The Photographer

Like we mentioned before, most photographers own their own 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 owner of the business. If your photographer does not own their own business, it’s a good idea to tip them.

The Second Shooter

Your photographer doesn’t always work alone. In fact, 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 percent tip on their rate is a good measure, or a tip of at least $100. For second shooters and photography assistants, a $50 to $75 tip per person is an appropriate and nice gesture.

When to Tip

If the tip wasn’t included as part of the vendor’s fees, it is appropriate to tip on the day of the wedding after all services have been completed. Prepare tips 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.

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 tip 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.

Should You Tip Wedding Photographers Photo Credit // The Shalom Imaginative

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. For 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 percent is a wonderful gesture.

Catering Staff

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 gratuity), check with the catering company or manager.

Musicians

You should also tip the band members, violinists, and/or DJ if they aren’t the business owner. They did help set the mood, after all.

Valet

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.

Wedding Videographers

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.

Wedding Coordinator

Tipping your wedding coordinator is also optional, but, if you were happy with the service he or she provided, a 10 to 20 percent tip is a great way to show your appreciation. A $50 tip is appropriate for any coordinator assistants.

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 you tip 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.

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.

Write 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.

Send a Gift

Sending flowers, treats, or the like is always a thoughtful way to say “Thank You.” If you know your photographer’s favorite 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.

Give Them Praise

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 not only experience the joy of seeing their work shared, but also may even gain new clients from the exposure.

Write a Review

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 great way to show your appreciation.

You can also offer to write an accolade for their personal website or serve as a reference for future couples. Many potential clients want to hear from past couples, and tales of your positive experience can help your photographer win their business.

Submit Your Photos to a Wedding Publication

Landing a feature for your photographer can be a great way to show your appreciation and also 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.

For more resources on wedding planning and photographers, see Zola’s, the wedding pros, expert guides below: