As you begin budgeting for your wedding and choosing your vendors, it’s important to factor in what to tip your wedding vendors. Similar to restaurant tipping, this is a great gesture to thank your providers for their services — especially if they go above and beyond to make your day perfect. We talked to a few wedding planners and weaved in our own advice on what to tip, who to tip, and how to do it.
There are no hard and fast answers as to what is customary when you decide to tip your wedding vendors. Generally, we always suggest gratuity at least for those who are employees of the company you hired i.e. a DJ that works for a larger company, servers from the catering company, etc.
Wedding Guys Wisdom: Another way you can thank all of your vendors that is priceless brand exposure is to tag ALL of them on your social media posts when you recap your wedding day and give them a review on Google. You can also recommend them by word-of-mouth to any family members or friends that are engaged.
Before you decide on what you’re going to allocate for each vendor, be sure to check your contract. Amy Shey Jacobs, Creative Director and Founder of Chandelier Events advises, “Check your contract as well. Make sure you get clarification on details… For example, that twenty percent administration charge—is that for gratuity or something else? And sometimes contracts say they charge per person ‘plus plus’ — ask what that means. Is the 1st plus tax and the 2nd plus an administration charge? Or maybe it is a tip? It’s best to know upfront.”
Jacobs has another great suggestion, “Ask recently married friends for guidelines, as they know the market rates.” She also says that while tipping isn’t mandatory, “it’s always at the discretion of the client, but it’s really important to show appreciation to the vendors that helped perfect your special day. A thank you note, along with a gift, even a small token, shows how much you appreciate their hard work. It really does go a long way.”
Beth Anderson of Kismet Event Group takes an extra step and provides a guide to all clients with suggestions of what to tip your wedding vendors. “All of my clients always ask for this and we do adjust it based on if the client has additional vendors that are not included on it — bartenders and security, for example.” In general, she guides clients to tip between $100-200 for the photographer and an additional $100-200 for the videographer. In addition to the catering staff (she recommends tipping them $30-50 per server), don’t forget your DJ, band members, photo booth operators, and yes — your officiant.
Who to Tip and How Much
Wedding Hair & Makeup
Gratuity for your hair and makeup team is expected. Just like you tip your hair stylist at the salon, you should do the same on your wedding day. We suggest about 20% for each artist and tipping them before they leave after completing services. You can always give a little more if you feel they went the extra mile, and don’t forget to remind your wedding party to tip as well. We also suggest looking at your contract for this one to be sure that gratuity is not already included with their service pricing.
Planners or coordinators do not expect gratuity, so this an area where you can consider tipping them with cash (10-15%) or a nice gift after your wedding day. If you feel their wedding planning work leading up to the day and on the day of was exceptional, you can send them a wedding photo with a heartfelt thank you note and a gift card to their favorite shop or restaurant.
Photographer and Videographer
Tipping your photographer or videographer is an area that is optional unless you use a photographer within the company that is not the owner i.e. an associate or contracted employee. Etiquette says to tip $100-200 depending on how you feel their service was. Since many couples tend to have a longer relationship with the people capturing their day compared to other vendors, you might also consider a non-traditional tip like a top-tier bottle of wine post-wedding.
Reception Service Staff
This category encompasses wait staff, coat check attendants, and parking staff. Take a look at your venue contract to see if gratuity is included in your fees or if any of the administration fees include tips dispersed to employees. Depending on if you hire an outside catering or parking company, these contracts may be separate and have varying fees. If it is not included or you’d like to show them a little extra love, giving $10-20 a person the night of the wedding is sufficient. Note that wait staff and bartenders typically make higher wages than typical restaurant employees so 20% per person is not necessary.
As for bartenders, you’ll want to again check your contract for gratuity. If you are hosting your bar for guests, you are responsible for tipping the bartenders (10-15% of the total bar bill pre-tax). If it is a cash bar, guests will generally tip as they go.
Whether you have a DJ, string quartet, or a live band, this is a category that is optional but preferred. If you felt your entertainment was perfect and they followed every cue perfectly, 10-20% of your total bill for a DJ and $20-30 per musician is a good amount. This should be given at the end of the reception after their performance(s).
This is a category where you will want to check your contract to see if it is included in the overall price. Gratuity is expected if it’s not included and should be 15-20% of your total bill. This can vary based on if they were on time, knew their routes, and provided a smooth ride.
If you are choosing to have someone from a church, synagogue, or another place of worship be your officiant, it is typically expected that you will make a donation of $100+ to their institution. If you are going to have a professional celebrant, family member, or friend, a small tip of $50-100 or a meaningful gift is a perfect way to thank them. The rehearsal dinner is a good opportunity to present them with the donation, gift, or tip.
Other Wedding Services
Florists, stationers, and bakers are just a few of the other services when thinking of what to tip your wedding vendors. They do not usually receive tips so it is optional. Though, you can always send them a thank you card after the wedding day with a gratuity of around $50 or a thoughtful gift card.
How to Tip Your Wedding Vendors
Now that you know who and how much to tip your wedding vendors, you can plan out how you will disperse them. The week of your wedding, prepare cash tips in envelopes with the names and company of each recipient. If you have a wedding planner, they can take your envelopes and distribute them accordingly. Otherwise, you can assign a member of your wedding party or a trusted family member to disperse.
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