Your wedding photos are the best way to immortalize your special day and share your memories for years to come.
Out of all of the professional services to make your dream wedding a reality–wedding photography is one of the most important investments and probably a decent portion of your wedding budget. And to make your wedding photos as spectacular as possible–wedding photography is always best left to the professionals.
So, if you’ve booked your photographer and want to show your appreciation for their hard work, the common question can arise: is it necessary to tip your wedding photographer?
To Tip or Not To Tip?
During wedding planning, the decision of whether or not to tip your wedding vendors–especially your wedding photographer–can be tricky.
Most professional wedding photographers like myself would agree, tipping your photographer is totally up to your personal preference. While it is a wonderful gesture, a tip for a wedding photographer is not standard practice. It is never required unless you feel compelled to give them a financial bonus because of their outstanding service.
Unlike many other service professionals, photographers should make enough from their fees and don’t depend on tips alone as a reliable source of income. Furthermore, many photographers are usually the owners of their own companies, so tipping isn’t a necessity.
In addition to this, many tip-requiring services performed during the wedding day yield more immediate results, like waiters/waitresses, professional beauticians, tattoo artists, and delivery personnel.
But when it comes to wedding photography, you’re immediately receiving the service, but you aren’t actually seeing the results of the labor until a few weeks or even months after the wedding is over. Due to this, tipping isn’t really necessary because the total cost of your wedding photography will cover the gap between the time your photographer captures your wedding pictures to when they deliver the full gallery to you.
When Is It Appropriate To Tip?
If you’re on the fence about tipping, one way to decide is by thinking back on your photography planning process and how helpful/unhelpful your photographer was during the planning stages. The sign of a great photographer is more than just their work; it’s also their willingness to help make the photography portion of your day as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Here are a few green flags that your photographer is going the extra mile for you:
-Scheduling meetings to discuss wedding day details, timelines, etc., either in person or over the phone.
-Sending you style guides to help plan outfits for engagements, bridals, boudoir, etc.
-Willingness to discuss wedding photography details outside of a scheduled meeting session (ex: shooting them a text to ask them a quick question).
-Location scouting and recommending the perfect wedding venue and setting for photography to suit your personal preferences.
However, as a general rule, we suggest that if the photographer has an assistant, it’s also a nice gesture to tip the assistant –usually about half what you give to the primary photographer.
How Much Should I Tip?
Depending on how lavish the wedding is and how much work the photographer does, tipping can range anywhere from $20-$500 bucks. That’s a HUGE range, but only because the photographer doesn’t expect a tip –so you can decide how much you’d like to tip based on what you think is appropriate.
Your photographer most likely provided you with exceptional service, but it can be hard to gauge exactly what amount is appropriate to tip them. To match their quality of service, we recommend using percentages to calculate your tip.
In general, your tip should be in the range of 5-10 percent of your total wedding photography cost. For example, if your photographer’s service fee (shooting, editing, etc.) is a flat rate of $500, then $25 (5%) would suffice. But for a larger budget like $2500, an amount like $125-$250 would be a generous bonus.
Other Non-Tipping Ideas
Weddings can get pricey, and if you’re strapped for cash, there are plenty of other ways to thank your photographer for their level of service that doesn’t include tipping.
Writing A Good Review
When booking your wedding photographer for your event, you most likely made sure to read positive online reviews and view samples of their work before booking. One great non-financial way to support your wedding photographer is to share positive feedback through your own online review and recommend them for future potential clients!
Many wedding photographers’ businesses THRIVE from positive reviews and word of mouth. So if you’re delighted with the result of your wedding photos, make sure to hype up your photographer to others who are possibly looking for a photographer too.
Some things to include in your detailed review are the ease of working with the photographer, their attention to detail, their timely delivery of images, and the overall sense of connection they established.
Make sure to check with your wedding photographer to see if they prefer written reviews through Google or on a designated place on their website.
Send Them A Thank-You Card
Once the completed wedding gallery is sent off after extensive hours of shooting and editing, it can be disheartening for photographers when clients download the gallery and never correspond back with the photographer. Meanwhile, these photographers are left in the dark wondering: “did they like their photos? Are there any they didn’t like? Do they need more photos?”
Remember, your photographer is a professional artist. There’s nothing they crave more than your feedback. Make sure to thank your photographer for their excellent service with something from the heart.
Taking the time to send a nice gesture like a hand-written note or a heartfelt email can make your photographer feel appreciated. It will also let them know if you enjoyed your experience working with them and give them the opportunity to ask if there are any edits or additional photographs you’d like to have.
I LOVE receiving greeting cards or thank you cards with one of the photos that I captured for the wedding on the card. So if you’re looking for a memorable way of letting your photographer know that you appreciate their work, sending your favorite among their photos along with your thank you card is a nice sentimental touch.
A Personal Gift
A gift of appreciation can get a little tricky, so it’s best to think of something inexpensive and yet thoughtful at the same time. Depending on what you know your photographer likes and doesn’t like, there’s a variety of options that will make them smile.
Some ideas for a small yet thoughtful gift can include gift cards to their favorite coffee shop (they are ALWAYS working in coffee shops), candles, soaps/spa accessories, and more.
And if you want a gift that’s more useful instead of decorative, ask your photographer what equipment they use to see if there are any low-budget tools or additional equipment they may need. For example, some lovely gift options can include SD cards, camera straps, gift cards to camera stores, batteries for flashes and other equipment, etc. As always, make sure to double-check with your photographer to see what they use and what may best suit their needs.
Get The Bang For Your Buck
So if tipping is just a personal preference, what’s included in your wedding photography price? For many couples hiring a professional photographer for the first time, the price tag may be a bit daunting.
For starters, when you’re hiring a professional photographer, you’re paying for YEARS of acquired skills and experience, as well as the knowledge of how to navigate the wedding industry and wedding photography.
Typically, the price of your wedding photography will include:
Both for shooting the event (which can range from a few hours to all-day coverage) and for editing afterward.
This can include gas, wear and tear on the photographer’s vehicle, and even airline tickets if the wedding requires long-distance travel. In addition, payment for accommodations may be necessary if you’re photographer has to relocate away from their home/office to capture your wedding pictures.
Many photographers offer packages that automatically include another assistant photographer.
Chances are, your wedding package includes more than just wedding day coverage. Many packages include engagements and bridals, creating more work for your photographer to filter through.
Prints and Fine Art Products:
Often, your photographer will spend hours looking over ideal prints and creating canvases and wedding albums for your wedding so you can have fine art items to cherish for decades.
It’s no secret: weddings take an army to put on. Gathering wedding vendors like makeup artists, a hairstylist, ceremony musicians, a wedding band, the wedding cake baker, the wedding coordinator, and even the wedding guests can be daunting.
Overall, it is not mandatory to tip your wedding photographer.
But, you absolutely can tip them if you feel they’ve gone above and beyond to capture your wedding day to perfection.
Because your wedding photographer should include all of their time, energy, and equipment fees within your wedding photography price, tipping is never expected but is, of course, a gesture of gratitude that is appreciated nonetheless!