Tipping Your Wedding Vendors
There are so many things to consider when planning your wedding and tipping can be a tough topic to find information on. I hope our information is insightful and helpful as you are winding down to the day of “I do”.
Ensure you review your contracts or have your planner/ coordinator do so for you to see if the gratuity guidelines are written in or already charged per vendor (service charges are not the same as gratuities). Most vendors do not charge on invoice or contract. Where you will see this the most will be venues and catering companies, however, again, most do not.
Generally, your wedding vendors do not expect a tip, but it is always appreciated, not to mention a kind gesture. You can think of it like dining out, a 15% tip is customary, 18% for large crowds (orders), and 20% when you feel they have been exceptional. Most of your vendors are going to provide exceptional service as we are all in this to help you have the best day possible and we want you to tell all your friends about how awesome we helped you on your big day!
It is best to write thank-you notes/cards before the day of the wedding. Most vendors keep these, they are a sort of merit badge on our walls in our offices. They mean so much to us! You can ask a trusted friend or family member to hand them out to the vendors or provide them to your planner/ coordinator. If you do not have a coordinator, ensure your family member knows what time the vendors will be leaving so they can present the envelope prior to the vendor departure. Officiates, animal handlers and photo booth personnel are not usually on site for more than 3-4 hours.
Here's a guideline on who, when, how and what to tip each of your wedding pros.
Wedding Hairstylist and Makeup Artist - Expected
As you would upon going to the salon, this is one vendor group where gratuity is definitely expected.
What: 15-25% of the invoiced amount and consider giving a little extra if there's a crisis (like one of your gals has a meltdown over her hair and it requires a redo at the last minute).
How/When: At the end of the services rendered.
Wedding Delivery and Setup Staff - Expected
It’s nice to give a small tip to anyone delivering important items to the site such as the cakes, flowers or rentals. If a lot of gear needs to be brought in and set up to make your day beautiful, the worker bees deserve a tip too.
What: $10–$20 per person
How/When: Upon delivery, no envelope needed but it’s prettier than a folded bill. If missed at delivery, pay upon pick up.
Ceremony Musicians or Reception Mariachi Group - Optional
If you worked with a company to come up with the perfect music for your ceremony and they were attentive leading up to the wedding day, showing some monetary thanks for their talent is appreciated. It is not customary but appreciated to tip the solo church organist who was required to play, or you can add it to the church donation. If you hired a Mariachi group and you can tell the guests enjoyed the show it’s also appreciated.
What: $15–$20 per musician
How/When: One envelope is fine per music group. Musicians should receive their tip at the end of the services.
Officiant / Ministry – Expected/Optional (depending on officiant/ church)
If you’re getting married in a church or synagogue and they are charging for the time of use, you may provide a small token of appreciation to the officiant. If off-site and officiant is affiliated with a church or synagogue, is customary to donate to that affiliate. If the officiating is from a small business, you may tip if they did a great job communicating with you before the wedding and wrote up a special sermon for your day.
What: Donate $100–$500 to the church or synagogue, and for the officiant, a tip of $50-$100 (maybe more, depending on how much time they've spent with you leading up to the wedding, say, in premarital counseling, for example). If the officiant is a family member or friend provide them with a token of affection.
How/When: Most ceremony fees are paid prior to the wedding. Tips can be placed in an envelope and provide when signing the marriage license.
Wedding Reception Staff - Expected
This group includes the facility manager, catering and or banquet manager. Hotels, some venues, and some catering companies have a service charge built into the food and drink fee, so check your contract. If the gratuity is not included, tip as follows.
What: 15–20% of the food and drink fee or $200–$300 for the catering manager, 10% of venue fee or $100 facility manager
How/When: If it's covered in the contract, the final bill is typically due before the reception. Otherwise, have the person handling your gratuity envelopes hand an envelope to the managers of each service.
Wedding Reception Attendants - Optional, based on contract
When it comes to bartenders and waitstaff, parking, bathroom, and coatroom attendants, the rules of tipping are normally dictated by your contract. If the service fee is included, consider doling out extra only if the service was exceptional. If it's not included, ask ahead of time how many attendants will be working your wedding and calculate on a per person basis.
What: If Cash Bar* 10–20 percent of the liquor or food bill to be split among bartenders or waiters respectively, *If Open Bar* without tip jar a minimum of $1 per guest with a minimum of a $100 tip per bartender. If with tip jar $50 per bartender is typical. $1 per guest for coatroom and $1 per car for parking attendants.
How/When to Tip: Although tips for these guys are traditionally passed out at the end of the event, you could distribute them at the beginning of the evening to encourage all the workers to give you great service.
Wedding Photographer and Videographer - Optional
It isn’t expected to give your camera crew additional money beyond their normal fees. But if the wedding photographer or videographer doesn't own the studio, consider tipping each person (or give a certain amount with a thank-you note to disperse to staff).
What: $50–$200 per vendor
How/When: In an envelope, tip your photographer and videographer at the end of the reception.
Wedding Reception Band or DJ - Optional, yet preferred
Tipping of musicians is completely optional, but keep in mind, they are the life of the party! If they did a great job keeping people on the dance floor, that’s what your guests are going to remember! Don't forget about any sound technicians a band may bring with them.
What: $25–$35 per musician; $50–$150 for DJs
How/When: A single envelope for the band/DJ tipped at the end of the reception.
Wedding Transportation - Expected
Again, check the contract as gratuity is usually included in this one. If it isn't, plan to tip provided they show up on time, provide a smooth ride and don't get lost.
What: 15–20 percent of the total bill
How/When: Tip transportation pros at the end of the night or after the last ride. If you used a separate company for the guest buses, designate a bus captain to hand the driver a tip, or the tip may be given upon delivery of guests to the venue.
Wedding Planner / Coordinator - Optional
Wedding Planners and Coordinators usually do not expect anything, but if yours did a great job, you can always offer a token of appreciation. About 50 percent of couples do tip their planners/coordinators.
What: 10–20% each, up to $500, or a nice gift. Often this is split between a team.
How/When: Present the envelope near the end of the reception or send a thank-you note with photos and/or a check right after the honeymoon.