Do I tip my wedding photographer?
I'm probably going to upset a lot of my friends and colleagues by saying this...
I've read articles that say I'm supposed to tip my vendors?
Yeah, I've read them too. It seems to be a relatively recent trend. These days everyone wants a little something extra, and it wouldn't surprise me if it was the vendors themselves putting this idea into the ears of those who are writing those articles.
Your vendors are professionals. They set their own rates. This is very different from most industries where tips are expected.
Is it just photographers or is it all vendors?
I cannot speak for all the other vendors in the wedding business. You will typically expect to pay tips at the venue, which makes sense as you are paying gratuities for all the food service staff that are making your wedding day possible. Transportation vendors (limos, vans, etc.) also generally are tipped. We can also include any coat attendants, valets, and so on.
The rest of us? Our rate should be our rate. Period.
I've seen anywhere from 10% to 20% suggested?
So have I. I'm sure those other photographers are really loving that. Let's think about what that really is, though. Let's assume your wedding package costs $2000. If you pay a 20% tip on that, that is nearly $400. For what? For them showing up to do what they already agreed to do for a set price? It is an absolutely ridiculous amount. That's a car payment or two. That's a few really nice meals on your honeymoon. Photographers who perpetuate the idea that all vendors should be tipped these outrageous amounts are just putting their hands in the cookie jar (and you have already spent a lot of cookies!)
What about second photographers? Do they get tipped?
This question is a little trickier. The answer is "yes". Sometimes second photographers do get tipped. However, that is not the responsibility of the bride and groom. The second photographer is hired by your primary photographer (which of course, I hope will be me). If the main photographer wants to give the second photographer a tip, that is the main photographer's responsibility and expense. It isn't (and shouldn't) be expected to come out of your wallet. I often tip my second photographers for doing a great job or going beyond what I expected of them.
If a tip was offered, would you accept it?
My mom didn't raise a fool. Of course I would, but I always counsel couples when I meet with them that my set fees are all that are expected of them. If you want to tip your wedding photographer, then you should. I assure you it will be appreciated. But it should never be required or expected, and the percentages suggested are crazy. Anyone else who tells you otherwise doesn't have your best interest in mind.