Wedding Vendor Etiquette 101

A bartender pouring cocktails at a wedding reception.

Where would a bride and groom be without their wedding vendors? After all, vendors are responsible for your beautiful blooms, delicious wedding cake, and the breathtaking decor. In fact, you could almost say that a vendor is close to acting like your wedding’s fairy godmother: every wish of yours is their command! It’s important that you take good care of your vendors, which includes knowing who to tip and which ones you need to feed on your big day. Showing the right courtesy and respect towards them is not only proper etiquette (putting you in the best light possible), but it’ll also help your wedding run smoothly. Read on for the best tips to ensure that your wedding vendors feel valued.

Do you have to feed your vendors?

A photographer taking a photo of a bride leaning against a wall.

In short, yes. But obviously, not every single one of them (sorry, florists!). Typically, you want to feed the vendors who are going to be onsite with you on your big day, which includes the DJ and/or band and the photographer. The last thing you want is a hangry DJ who can’t get the tunes spinning or a tired photographer who can’t help boost the energy levels for your photos. You’ll also want to feed your wedding planner, as well as any assistants who are present at the wedding. Essentially, you only have to feed the vendors who are at the reception.

The best thing to do is to factor your vendors’ meals into your budget so you’re not surprised with the extra mouths to feed. You might also want to discuss any special vendor meals that your caterer might be able to offer to them—set meals that aren’t on your wedding menu, for example. Sometimes that might mean paying an extra fee, or not. But it’s definitely something worth exploring and moving forward with. And don’t forget to include your vendors with the final count to your caterer!

When can the vendors eat and take a break?

Because your vendors are working during the reception, sometimes they won’t be able to sit and eat during scheduled times as with your guests (the photographer will definitely be up and around taking shots). While it’s best to arrange for them to eat when the reception dinner is being served, you might want to arrange a private area for your vendors to take a break, or let your caterer know that they’re able to “eat and run” whenever they please so their dishes aren’t cleared. If you can’t find a quiet spot for your vendors to eat, seat them at a table together. (Hey, at least you know they will have something in common!)

As for taking breaks, your vendors aren’t machines. They will need to take a breather and rest their legs at some point, use the restroom, or have a sip of water. You can expect for the majority of them to be working until the dancing begins (except for the DJ/musicians, of course). Most vendors will take a break during the toasts or other moments of downtime. But if you see one of them taking a break during a reasonable time, let them!

Ultimately, you know the schedule of your wedding (or at least your wedding planner does). So if you have to coordinate different meal times and breaks that fit better with the structure of your big day, do so. Just be sure to let your vendors know ahead of time.

Should you tip wedding vendors?

A string quartet playing at a wedding.

We know what you’re thinking: “But I’m already paying them!” However, it’s customary to tip your vendors anyway, including their assistants. Definitely tip the bartender and catering staff, as well as the musicians and hair stylists and makeup artists. But tipping doesn’t just include those who are present on the day of your wedding. After all, your vendors have worked hard for you, and if you’ve noticed any of them who went above and beyond their service, definitely compensate them for it. If any of your vendors are the small business owners, whether they’re the baker or florist, tipping them isn’t necessary, but you should still tip their assistants.

Following these helpful tips will ensure your hardworking wedding vendors are happy, which will only leave you feeling happy, too.

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