...there more like guidelines (insert your favorite Pirate of the Caribbean accent here).
That line has been running through my head all morning as I've been typing up my gratuity information for an article in Martha Stewart Weddings. We won't get credited, but the editor is gathering up information from various people across the country for a December issue on gratuities and we were excited to contribute. I'm sure many of you are wondering about tips...so read on for a few thoughts....
I have a very defined list of gratuity guidelines that I send to my clients. It's a good idea to account for them in the budget right from the start. Gratuities should never be expected, but be aware that many vendors will outright ask for them. Unless it's written in your contract (often times that's the case with limos) never feel pressured to give a gratuity, a tip is given for service that is efficient and above expectations.
The one that's always a surprise to couples is that the service charge from the caterer is not a gratuity. If you are ever questioning if gratuity is already included be sure to ask.
The one that drives me crazy is the tip jar at the bar. If you are hosting the bar, there should not be a tip jar set out, and your bartenders should not accept money from the guests either. You'll have to discuss this with the catering staff ahead of time so that the bartender knows how to address it when it comes up.
Besides the normal ones you would think about, DJ, caterer, hair and makeup. It's also nice to think about some of the other vendors who've worked so hard for you, like your photographer, videographer, florist, wedding planner, etc.
Many of these vendors are smaller companies, and honestly sometimes a lovely thank you note that they can show to potential clients, fabulous reviews you can post online, and of course telling all your friends and family how wonderful they were is better than any gratuity!