do you tip a wedding photographer

Do you Tip a Wedding Photographer?

I originally wrote this article in 2013… not only does that make me feel really old now, but it means it’s well overdue for an update. A lot has changed in the world of wedding photography, especially since the COVID pandemic, and my personal thoughts and feelings towards the question “do you tip a wedding photographer” have changed slightly.

Guilt Trips vs. Education

Let’s get one thing clear from the very beginning – this article is not meant as a guilt trip by any means. If you’ve been my client or are currently my client and you’re reading this – I promise this isn’t some kind of super passive-aggressive way of guilt-tripping you. This article is meant to be educational and since being totally transparent is part of what my business strives to be, sometimes we have to talk about slightly awkward topics… like tipping your wedding photographer!

do you tip a wedding photographer

History of Tipping in the Wedding Industry

So many vendors play a part in making your wedding day truly spectacular; whether it’s your hairstylist, DJ, photographer, or videographer, any reliable and trustworthy vendor will give it 110% on your wedding day and deliver you the best damn product or service they can.  After all, many of these vendors rely heavily on word-of-mouth, so their performance at one event is what gets them their next gig! Historically; however, some vendors are privy to receiving gratuities while others aren’t. Historically you aren’t “supposed” to tip your wedding photographer if they own the business but etiquette and traditions are the last things to evolve despite the constant, fast-paced evolution of the wedding industry itself – so there’s certainly an opportunity for change in many practices.

tipping your wedding photographer

Do you Tip a Wedding Photographer?

Some vendors will automatically include a tip, or gratuity, on your final invoice.  Most banquet halls/caterers routinely add gratuity onto your invoice without question.  Most clients will always give a little something extra to their make-up artist and hairstylist as a ‘thank you’ – but what about the photographer?  Is it even proper to tip the photographer or is it an etiquette faux-pas?

Well, here’s the answer…

Tipping your wedding photographer is optional.  A client should never feel like they must provide a gratuity nor should a photographer ever include a gratuity charge on an invoice.

…but what if you’re considering tipping your wedding photographer? There are some things to consider

tipping your wedding photographer

What to Consider before Tipping a Wedding Photographer

If you’re considering tipping your wedding photographer, that’s awesome of you! Again, it’s not necessary by any means but if you think it may be a kind gesture, here are some things to consider.

  • Did they provide you with a discount at any point? Discounts come right out of the pockets of small business owners, so tipping can help show you that you appreciate their hard work and want to give back to them, too.
  • Did they shoot for longer than they were contracted for? Whether it was your engagement session or wedding day itself; did they show up early or stay late? A tip can be a sign that you value their time.
  • Did they exceed your expectations?Were they there to help you troubleshoot problems beyond those that were photographer-related? Were they helpful with pinning of boutonnieres, with the bustling of dresses, or just super amazing at dealing with stress, tight timelines, and keeping everyone calm?
  • Were they helpful during times of uncertainty and stress? (ie: COVID weddings!) Contrary to the historical idea of “don’t tip them if they’re the business owner”, many business owners went above and beyond for their clients during COVID spending weeks (or months) at a time helping clients with details, rescheduling, and postponements without any paycheque coming in. A tip could be a nice gesture to show appreciation for the extra help during the hardest of times, regardless of whether they own the business or not.

How Much do you Tip a Wedding Photographer?

If you do choose to tip your wedding photographer, the popular wedding website suggests $50-$200 be delivered at the end of the reception ensuring that the primary and second shooter are both considered.  Etiquette expert Ruth L. Kern suggests that if you have received truly outstanding service from your photographer, a tip of up to 10% would be a nice gesture although depending on the cost of some photography packages this may not be reasonable.

tipping your wedding photographer

Alternatives to Tipping

My personal take on tipping your wedding photographer is that if you received awesome service, find some way to say thank you beyond simply the words “thank you”. Certain gestures can mean so much more than a bit of money could. Here are some alternatives to tipping a wedding photographer:

  • Write a 5-star review on their Google reviews. (Most businesses prefer Google reviews because it’s the most helpful kind of review, but if your photographers use other platforms like TheKnot you can leave a review there too!)
  • Buy something from them. Whether it’s a few small prints or something larger, like an album, buying printed products through your photographers benefits you because you’re doing to be super awesome, high-quality tangible memories and it helps throw a bit of money back their way too. Think it is as tipping WITH a kickback for yourself, too!
  • Tag appropriately only. Word of mouth is always the best way to get new clients, and word of mouth includes word-of-social-media. Having clear tags when you post your photos helps other people find their way to that vendor in the future.
  • Hire them in the future! Whether it’s for an anniversary session, holiday card photos, or lifestyle sessions if you choose to start a family, always consider re-inquiring with your photographer for any future photographic needs. We absolutely adore working with clients over and over again!
  • Talk about them! Actively refer your photographer to other people; whether that means staying a part of local wedding planning groups so you can shout-out your vendors or popping in with a recommendation if you hear that colleagues may be in need of their services, be your photographer’s personal cheerleader and tell the world about them!
tipping your wedding photographer

So do you tip a wedding photographer? An actual monetary tip is optional, but when it comes to ways of saying thank you for their dedication, their craft and their talent there are a number of ways of expressing your gratitude beyond simple tipping. If you had a great experience with a wedding vendor, find a way to say thank you.

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