Tipping Your Wedding Vendors: A Complete Guide

Tipping Your Wedding Vendors: A Complete Guide

Weddings can already be very costly affairs.  Knowing who and how much to tip is very important.  This is one of those unexpected costs that can add up quickly if you weren’t prepared for it.  We suggest that couples add a tip “line item” to their budget for each vendor that should receive a tip.  This helps you keep track of these costs and insures it meets the standard protocols.  Also, a good wedding planner can help you with tipping if you are unsure.

In addition to tipping, a handwritten note to your vendors is also appreciated along with a review on sites such as The Knot, WeddingWire, Google and even social media such as Facebook.  Assign the responsibility of handing out tips and letters to a responsible party such as your wedding planner, close friend, maid of honor, etc.

Below is a general guide to tipping each vendor.

Wedding Planner

This one can vary greatly.  Generally speaking, most wedding planners don’t necessarily expect a tip, but if they do receive one it lets them know they were appreciated.  It’s also customary to tip your planner if they offered a discount and if they went above and beyond expectations.  It’s also customary to provide the planner with some professional photos of your wedding for their portfolio, especially if they were a primary part of the setup.

Protocol:  Optional, yet preferred
Standard:  10% – 20%, (up to $500) or a nice gift
When To Tip:  At the end of your reception or send a check right after the honeymoon.

Hair Stylist & Makeup Artist

This one is almost always expected, just as you normally tip at a hair salon.  Consider tipping a little extra if you have a crisis or last minute changes.

Protocol:  Expected
Standard:  15% – 25%
When To Tip:  At the time of service, when paying your bill.

Delivery & Setup Staff

Although many of these people won’t end up being present during your reception, they are very important to a successful day.  

Protocol:  Expected
Standard:  $5 – $10 per person
When To Tip:  Drop off envelopes in advance to a catering manager, wedding planner, or whoever will be accepting deliveries for them to distribute.

Decorator

If you are using a decorator or a decor service, they may be some of the first to arrive and the last to leave.  Their work will often determine the “WOW” factor of your wedding.  In addition, their work is generally hard and tedious work.  It is a nice gesture and becoming expected for them to receive a tip.  As with wedding planners, you should provide professional photos to your decorator for use in their portfolio.

Protocol:  Optional, yet preferred
Standard:  $50 – $100
When To Tip:  At the end of the reception

Officiant

Tipping your officiant varies greatly depending on the officiant and their affiliation with a church or religious institution.  Some churches may expect a contribution to the church.  If you are getting married in the church, this may already be covered in the cost of the venue.  In some situations, officiants may not be able to charge for services in which case a tip should always be given in an amount that is comparable to what they would charge if they were able to.

Protocol:  Expected, depending on officiant and situation
Standard:  $50 – $200 depending on the cost of officiant
When To Tip:  If they are attending the reception, slip them an envelope during the reception. Otherwise, have someone give them an envelope following the ceremony.

Ceremony Musicians

Commonly, most do not expect a tip.  However, if you required something very specific of if the musicians(s) had to learn a special piece of music just for your wedding, consider throwing in a small tip as appreciation.

Protocol:  Optional
Standard:  $15 – $20 per musician
When To Tip:  At the end of the ceremony

Photographer/Videographer

It is not expected to tip the photographer or videographer beyond their normal fees.  However, if they don’t own the studio, it is a nice gesture to provide a tip to each of the shooters.

Protocol:  Optional
Standard:  $50 – $100 per shooter
When To Tip:  Tip at the end of the reception

Caterer/Reception Staff

In most cases, the gratuity is already included in the contract and invoice.  In the case that it isn’t included, use the following guidelines.

Protocol:  Expected
Standard:  15% – 20% of the food and drink cost
When To Tip:  This is generally included with the final payment, which in most cases is due prior to the reception.

Reception Attendants

This includes people such as bartenders, wait staff (if separate from caterer), parking, restroom, coatroom attendants etc.  Some of these may be included in your contract.  

Protocol:  Optional, based on contract
Standard:  10% – 20% of the liquor or food bill to be split among bartenders or waiters respectively, $1 per guest for coatroom and $1 per car for parking attendants
When To Tip:  Normally at the end of the reception

Reception Band or DJ

Whether you are hiring a 12 piece band or a DJ, tipping musicians is optional.  Depending on the quality of their service and how willing they were to stick to your preferred playlist, you should consider giving them a tip as a token of appreciation.

Protocol:  Optional, yet preferred
Standard:  $25 – $35 per musician, $50 – $150 for DJ’s
When To Tip:  Normally at the end of the reception

Transportation

Make sure you check your contract as this is normally included in your contract.  If it is not, consider the following as a guideline.

Protocol:  Expected
Standard:  15% – 25% of the total transportation bill
When To Tip:  Normally at the end of their service or the last ride

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