Oh, how the times have changed!
There was a time when most couples got engaged, went to the church they attended every week, asked the minister to marry them at the church, and the reception was held in the church hall. There was a list of about 15 songs, a few standardized readings to choose from, flowers were chosen and your outfits too. That was about it.
With the growing population of couples who do not attend a particular church, temple or synagogue on a regular basis, there has been an increase in the complexity of planning. Finding and booking a venue can take over a year. A couple may not have a regular person they call on for spiritual guidance. There's no assumption that the ladies' guild would be catering, and all this means that parents of a couple are often unable to answer questions about what's customary, traditional or expected with regard to vendors and other matters as well. So let me address a couple of them.
To Feed or Not to Feed?
The choice of whether to include wedding vendors such as photographers, videographers, caterers, DJs and the wedding officiant in your food count is totally up to you. Traditionally they are included. However, whatever your choice, it is expected that you communicate that choice to them way in advance of your date. Many of your vendors have family at home, wondering if their mom/dad/sweetheart will be home to have dinner with them or not. Those who are involved for several hours of your day also may need to bring food with them if not included, such as photographers and videographers who often work through breakfast, lunch and dinner to capture your day for you.
Also, are you asking a vendor to participate in some way with the dinner or reception? Then include them. This group might include musicians, DJs, the wedding officiant, and venue owners if involved in setup/cleanup, service, etc.
If you are going to include a vendor, consider sending an invitation to them, asking them to RSVP. If you're not going to include someone, please let them know that as well so they can make arrangements to eat before/after providing services to you.
For those who are providing products and services to make your day special, the rule of thumb is no different than others who provide services to you. If you are pleased with their contribution to your day, consider a gratuity. If the photographer stood outside in the heat/rain/snow for 2 hours to capture 'that shot' you've always wanted, then consider a gratuity. Wedding officiants are often the least paid vendor on your list, but they are certainly not the one who puts the least amount of work and effort into your ceremony, and are responsible for assuring your marriage is both legal and legally recorded. If they have done a good job for you, if the ceremony was what you wanted it to be, consider a gratuity. Others to consider tipping? Photo booth operator, DJ, photographer, videographer, wedding planner, plated dinner servers, cake cutter, and those who will be cleaning up after your event.
Do you have other wedding etiquette questions you'd like me to address? Send me a message either through my website here or my Facebook page and I'd be happy to answer them for you.
Rev. Ronnie was ordained in 2010 as an interfaith minister through The New Seminary, located in New York City. She is available to perform ceremonies throughout the United States, aboard ship or in other countries.