Ask the Editor: Tipping Your Vendors

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Do I have to tip my wedding vendors?  If so, who do I tip and how much? – Tifanie, Honolulu, HI

Yes, there are people involved with your wedding that you need to tip. If you have a wedding coordinator, ask for their opinion and assistance with this detail.  Have all of the cash in separate envelopes.  If you don’t have a wedding planner, ask the father of the bride or best man to handle this task.  All tips should be handed out at the end of the evening, or following the service provided, whichever comes first.  Here are a few basic guidelines on vendor gratuities:

  • Food & Beverage Staff—Ask questions regarding gratuity when you sign your contracts with your catering and/or bar staff manager.  Find out if a gratuity is already included, and if so, how it is divided.  Look out for the fine print, bar staff will sometimes have specific gratuity requirements which may or may not include a tip jar.  If the gratuity is not included in the bill, it is generally 15-20% of the total bill to be given to the business manager to divide among their staff.  You can sometimes arrange a set gratuity amount for each specific role, but this is not the place to penny pinch.  Quality service at your wedding is key to your guests enjoying themselves.  The last thing you want is a disgruntled kitchen.
  • Music—Whether you are using a band or dj, tipping is optional, but encouraged.  Tip according to how well they performed or any extra effort they went too.  Did the dj keep the party going after a drunken groomsman started trying to dance up on your horrified Grandma Jane?  Reward him.  Did he play everything in The Smiths’ catalogue despite your requests to keep things upbeat?  Not so much.  Anything over $150 for a dj, or $50 for each individual band member, is being extremely generous.
  • Beauty services—For hair and makeup the day of, add a little extra to what you normally tip for beauty appointments (between 15-25%).
  • Transportation—Unless there was an error of some kind (whether it be the wrong type of transportation showing up or having to stop repeatedly to ask for directions to the church), plan on tipping between 15-20%.
  • Attendants other than wait staff—This can include everyone from valets to coat-check.  A good rule of thumb is to tip per item they are handling.  So, for example, tip $1 per guest to whoever is checking coats, and $1 per car to a valet or parking lot attendant.
  • Photographers and wedding planners—for the most part, these people own their own businesses.  If they don’t, make sure to tip them a flat fee (at least $100 for photographer, and $200 for wedding planner).  Otherwise, if they do a great job you should thank them with a gift, kind note, and positive reviews to anyone who’ll listen.
  • Officiants—For religious officiants, you are expected to make a donation to the church.  For anyone not religiously-affiliated, beyond their fee, you should really only feel compelled to buy them a small thank you gift.
  • Odds and Ends—Depending on how much setup your wedding requires, be prepared with extra cash on hand during the delivery and set-up process.
about the author
Sarah Sarah has been editing the blog at mywedding for four years. She enjoys watching classic movies, spending money on eyeliner that she never wears, and convincing brides to write thank you notes.

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