The question of tips comes up fairly regularly on TK. There are several generally accepted thoughts on this subject:
- If you've hired a company and the person, or people, providing the service are the owners of the company, or it's a one-man (or one-woman to keep this politically correct) show, technically you do not need to tip them. They price their goods or services at a rate they hopefully feel is competitive, but in either case, it's priced in a manner that is sustainable or they would not be in business long. Obviously if they do an exceptional job, you can certainly tip them as tips are nearly always welcome, but you should not feel obligated.
- If you've hired a vendor and employees of that vendor are the ones providing the service, in that case check the contract (you did mandate that a contract be written right? If not, require it; no reason to fool around with word of mouth or email promises on your wedding day) for language related to tips, service charges or other similarly named gratuity. You may find that the vendor already bundled in an amount that goes as tip to the service staff. If such a fee is not there, then most of the time you should plan on tipping. Obviously the amount is subjective; you're not going to tip the guy running the video camera 20% of your $3500 videographer invoice like you would a server in a restaurant, but you'd probably want do do better than $20 too if he's there working for eight hours. So, just go with your gut and if they worked hard, give them a nice tip.
- Most restaurants and similar venues will bundle in a 20% "service charge" which does go directly to the wait staff. It's always a nice gesture to pass a little extra to anyone that goes above and beyond, however, be discreet about it, you don't want the rest of the staff to see you tipping only select people.
Here's a guide a knottie put together on tipping, coming from a foreign country:
And here's a third party page with some more thoughts on this: