Tipping is a customary practice at restaurants, bars, and certain service providers, at least in the United States. Tipping wedding vendors is no exception. While tips are not required, you should try to include them in your wedding budget. Whether you choose to give a tip or not (you may not if, say, the service is horrible), it’s best to account for it in advance and avoid unexpected expenses. Figuring out who to tip and how much can be complicated so, here’s a handy guide to help you.
Do I Need to Tip Everyone?
There are some cases in which a tip isn’t necessary at all. If the vendor is the owner of the business, no extra cash is necessary, unless you insist. In addition, the tip may already be included as part of a “service charge” on a vendor bill.
A tip doesn’t have to be in monetary form, either. For example, you can gift your wedding planner a spa certificate or bottle of wine as a thank you instead. Sometimes, a personalized thank you note may be enough.
It is best to prepare all tips in advance and separate them into individual envelopes. To avoid running around yourself, assign someone to take care of all tipping on the day of. You can also arrange to deliver the tips the day before.
As a general rule of thumb, a tip should amount to 10-20% of the service cost. And, of course, if the service is not up to standard, feel free not to tip at all. However, there are different customs when it comes to different services.
Venue, Catering, and Bartenders
In all three cases, a tip or “service charge” is pretty much always included in the contract. And if no service charge is listed, stick to the 15-20% rule. With the venue, if there’s someone who sticks out as being extra helpful on the day of, such as a manager, expect to give them an extra $50-100. With other staff, such as servers, $25-50 will be appreciated.
Most photographers work for themselves, so no tip is necessary. However, if you feel they went above and beyond, an extra $100 or small percentage of their fee makes for a nice gesture. If they employed an assistant, the assistant should be given about half of the tip of the main photographer. Gifts are also OK in lieu of cash. Keep in mind that photographers work much more than you think. Documenting an event is very hard work. Not to mention, they’ll be working long after the event is over, sorting through, editing, and organizing your photos.
Musicians and DJs
As with photographers, there’s a lot going on for musicians behind the scenes outside of performing. Set up and take-down, for example, is hard work. Not to mention, they spent a lot of time practicing for this gig. Expect to gift a band about 10% of their hiring fee, or at least $25-50 per musician. For DJs, an extra $50-200 on top is acceptable.
Tips for officiants, especially if they’re part of a religious organization, may not be appropriate. If the officiant is a priest, suggest making a donation to the church in their honor instead. Usually, this amount ranges from $100-400. Tips are also unlikely to be accepted by legal officiants. So if you’re getting married in a town hall or courthouse, provide them with a physical gift, such as a bottle of wine, instead. It’s also perfectly fine to not give anything at all.
Gratuity for drivers is usually included when it’s an event hire. However, if you’re hiring an Uber, expect to tack on an extra 15%. Tipping a driver is easy to forget, so it’s best to arrange this upfront.
Most florists do not expect a tip, but you can always give a small 10-15% add-on if you feel they did an outstanding job.
Cake Designer or Baker
Like with food and restaurants, set aside at least a 10% tip. If the cake requires special delivery or set-up, you might want to give $10-50 to each of the on-site staff as well.
Hair and Makeup Artists
You probably already tip your stylist whenever you get your hair done, so don’t forget to do the same on your special day. As usual, this should be 15-20%. The only exception is if the person works via their own business, in which case a tip is an optional gesture.
Tips are not necessary for wedding planners, but you might feel that they deserve one. In many cases, a gift will suffice as a thank you. You can also give them 10% of their fee in cash.
Other Service Staff
If there’s anyone who deserves a tip, it’s the service staff—the people who put together your special day. Anyone who helps on the day of deserves a little something, so if it’s not already prepaid via the contract, make sure to thank them in a different way. Don’t forget the little guys, either. For coat check staff, bathroom attendants, or valets, expect to pay $1-2 per person (or car). And any other staff, such as delivery, can be given $5, or $10-20 if they assist with a complicated set-up.