You can feel like you're bleeding money when planning a wedding. A deposit here, a service charge there — it adds up, which is what makes tipping such a sensitive topic. My venue already added a 20 percent service fee; do I really have to tip, too?
The short answer: No. There are only a couple vendors whom it would be rude not to tip. The others? Only do it if they've been exceptional to work with. Here's a cheat sheet for how tipping looks.
The more important thing? Feed your vendors. You read right: If you're going to have vendors at your reception, make sure they get something to eat.
This means telling your caterer to set aside plates and utensils (if they won't already be out on, say, the end of a buffet line). Also, tell your caterer that it's OK for the others vendors to join in on the meal (most know this but I've run into caterers who don't).
Hopefully, you'll be too busy enjoying your reception to notice but here's when vendors typically eat:
the photographer grabs a bite right after the bridal party (this frees them up to take photos when speeches start, which is typically as soon as all tables have food)
the DJ eats early on, too, either right after the bridal party or halfway through service. They have to be quick though: the DJ's often the one dismissing each table to join in a buffet line (if there is one) and introducing folks for speeches
the catering staff eats on their own time, often after service is complete
and the day-of wedding coordinator? Well, I typically wait until speeches have started before wolfing down a meal
In sum: Tips are nice. Food is best.