Wedding Vendor Tipping

Tipping vendors is one area where many couples feel totally lost.  Who are you supposed to tip?  How much is appropriate?  I have been asked questions like these quite a few times recently, so I decided to go ahead and tackle the issue.  Here are the general rules of thumb…

“Rewarding vendors with a tip is expected, and it will serve as a thank-you for a job well done” (Martha Stewart Weddings).

The Knot outlines the basic protocol and standard dollar amounts for your different wedding vendors:

  • Wedding Coordinator
    • Protocol: Optional
    • Standard: Up to $500, or a nice gift
    • “Wedding planners won’t likely expect anything; however, if yours did a great job you can always offer a token of your appreciation.”
  • Wedding Hair/Makeup stylists
    • Protocol: Expected
    • Standard: 15-20%, depending on quality of service
  • Wedding Delivery & Setup Staff
    • Protocol: Expected
    • Standard: $5-10 per person
  • Ceremony Officiant
    • Protocol: Expected (depending on officiant)
    • Standard: Donate $500+ to church or synagogue, or, for nondenominational officiant, optional tip of $50-100
  • Ceremony Musicians
    • Protocol: Optional
    • Standard: $15-20 per musician
  • Photographer/Videographer
    • Protocol: Unnecessary, unless the photographer is not the studio owner
    • Standard: $50-200 per vendor
    • “You’re not expected to give your shutterbugs any dough beyond their normal fees.  Yet 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).”
  • Reception Staff (i.e. on-site coordinator, maitre d’, banquet manager)
    • Protocol: Expected
    • Standard: 15-20% of food & drink fee
    • “A service charge is almost always built in to the food and drink fee, so check your contract.  If the gratuity is not included, tip [is expected].”
  • Reception Attendants (i.e. bartenders, waitstaff, parking, bathroom, coatroom attendants)
    • Protocol: Optional, based on contract
    • Standard: $20-25 per bartender or waiter; $1 per guest for coat room attendants; $1 per car for parking attendants
    • “If the service fee is included [in your contract], 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.”
  • Reception Band or DJ
    • Protocol: Optional, yet preferred
    • Standard: $20-25 per musician; $50-150 for DJs
    • “Don’t forget about any sound technicians they bring with them.”
  • Transportation
    • Protocol: Expected
    • Standard: 15-20% of the total bill
    • “Again, check your contract, as gratuity is usually included.  If it isn’t, plan to tip provided they show up on time and don’t get lost!”
  • Vendors you’re not expected to tip:
    • Bridal Salon
    • Cake baker
    • Chef/sous chef
    • Invitation Designer
    • Florist
    • General Manager
    • Party Rental Company

Courtney Swierczek, of A Sweet Soiree Events, explains, “The rule of thumb is that anyone who owns their own business doesn’t need to be tipped as 100% of their fees go to them. Anyone who doesn’t, it’s nice to tip them. It’s usually good to also tip the catering staff about $20 per person, as well as anyone’s service that you felt went above and beyond your expectations.”

Vendor tips can add up, but keep in mind the amount of work each person is putting in to make your wedding day dreams come alive and make sure that it is the most special day of your life.  It’s always nice to reward your vendors for their hard work, especially when you are happy with their services!

Happy Tuesday!

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