As their wedding day approaches, many couples focus on the last-minute details – food, decor, music, and other key factors. However, they’re often so caught up in the big-picture elements that a handful of small ones tend to slip their mind. One of the most commonly overlooked? Tipping.

Wedding tipping raises plenty of questions for those planning their big day. How much should they tip? When should they tip? If you’re asking yourself these same questions, it’s your lucky day — we’ve gathered answers from a handful of industry professionals to make it easy! Here’s what they had to say about who, when, and how to tip your vendors.

Photography: Amy Sims Photography

Understand what’s typical.

No, leaving a 50% tip isn’t common – and though you want to show your appreciation, know that there are standards you can consult. It’s up to you and your partner to decide what to give and what fits within your budget!

“Usually, tips range between 10-20% of the relevant service,” says Megan Estrada, CEO of NSWE Events. “However, they are always at your discretion! Also, many times couples will give a gift (cash or otherwise) rather than a percentage to those vendors with whom they work closest and develop a relationship with. For example, maybe you really connected with your photographer or your head floral designer – those could be good candidates for cash gifts if they go above and beyond for you.”

Put someone in charge.

The last thing you want is to leave a handful of cash or a large check unattended amidst the hustle and bustle of your wedding. So if you plan on tipping your vendors, be sure to assign the task to someone reliable.

As Andrea Smith of The Band Method suggests, “Make a special note of who is handling the vendor tips. It should be an extremely trustworthy person, especially if the couple isn’t handling the tips themselves. As shocking as it is, in our experience, a few planning teams and venue coordinators have not been forthright with tipping and tip amounts. The vendors are aware of this, and word travels fast.”

If you decide to give cash, be mindful to seal each tip inside its own envelope. Smith echoes her above sentiment, stating, “We recommend giving vendors tips in a sealed envelope with the specific amount written on the envelope or via Venmo. There have been instances where the tips weren’t delivered, or envelopes weren’t properly sealed, and part of the tip was removed by the messenger.”

Read the fine print.

Though tipping is a nice gesture, it’s often not required. So before you go breaking your budget, take a look at each of your agreements to see whether or not it’s essential.

“Another misconception is that tipping is mandatory when it is not,” notes Jaclyn Watson of Jaclyn Watson Events. “Tipping is greatly appreciated, and most vendors will be surprised to get it as they do not count on it, which makes the art of tipping even better.”

Estrada agrees, emphasizing, “Tipping is never mandatory unless it is in your contract! Also, be sure to read your contracts thoroughly to see if tipping is included. If it is, then you do not need to tip anything additional.”

Photography by Savannah Brown

Prepare ahead of time.

You want to spend your wedding day soaking in every moment – not running around trying to collect cash and hit the ATM. Be sure to finalize your tipping strategy beforehand, so you can spend your special day focusing solely on making memories with those you love.

“Add preparing vendor tips to that ‘week of’ to-do list,” recommends Patricha Pike, venue manager and event planner at Meadows Event Center. “Place cash in designated envelopes and turn them over to your trusted wedding party member, usually the best man or maid of honor, at the rehearsal.”

Consider the timing.

Many couples wonder if they should be tipping their vendors before the big day or after. The choice is ultimately yours, so long as you and your partner determine what will be best for you, your timeline, and your budget!

Nora Sheils, co-founder of Rock Paper Coin and founder of Bridal Bliss, suggests, “Some provide a tip to their vendors early on the wedding day to incentivize the vendor to work extra hard and provide over-the-top service. Others provide a tip to their wedding pro after the service has been provided as a thank you. Regardless of when a tip is given, cash is king!”

Leaning toward tipping after your celebration has come to a close? Sarah Blessinger, owner and planner at Kindred Weddings and Events, offers one piece of advice: “If you prefer to tip post-wedding day in order to really evaluate a vendor’s services, it’s a good idea to ask those vendors ahead of time about the best process to arrange a post-wedding day tip. They may prefer you mail a check or tip through a third-party service.”

Though not typically required, tipping your vendors is a lovely way to showcase your appreciation to those who helped bring your wedding-day vision to life. Monetary or not, be sure to thank each person who went out of their way to celebrate you, your partner, and the start of your new chapter!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

We’ve partnered with OFD Consulting to bring you this great advice from their collective of wedding professionals.