A Big Tip: Dispersing Gratuities to Your Wedding Vendors

bigstock_Paying_Money_A_452577When it comes to tipping in general, most of us are genuinely confused about what is the correct amount to tip, when it’s appropriate to tip, and most importantly how much to tip. I mean, even when I order from Fresh Direct I wonder if I should tip the guys, but if UPS delivers the thought never even crosses my mind. Now add a special layer of wedding vendors to consider and things get really complicated!

But as usual, no worries, we have some answers for you to clear up the confusion, stay within tip guidelines and budget for them correctly. Although tipping (unless stipulated in your vendor’s contract) is not mandatory but rather completely optional, it’s really a cool monetary way just to let your vendors know you appreciate them going above and beyond in their service on your big day. But, if you’re like most people, you want to stay within the norms of protocol, and you definitely want to tip if the service was good since that’s the courteous thing to do.

So just who should be tipped and how much? Well that depends on which vendors, if gratuity is included in the contract, and if the vendor owns the business of the service they’re providing. So here’s a quick “hit list” of who should get what, when and how much.

Wedding Venue Staff- Banquet Manager | Caterer | Maitre d’ | Table Captains | Wait Staff | Bartenders – 15% – 20%

Be careful to read your catering contract thoroughly, because this percentage  is almost always included in your food/drink fee. Ask what the break-down will be among the staff (Note: Typically the Banquet Manager/Maitre d’ receives the lion share of the tip, with the balance dispersed equally among waitstaff).

If there is no gratuity included in the contract, then 15-20% is usually standard.

Wedding Photographer/Videographer  – 0%*

If your wedding photographer/ videographer owns their own studio, then a tip is not expected. *However, if he/she works for the studio as an employee, you can, only if you want, consider tipping between $50 – $200 per photographer.

Wedding Florist – 0%

Like the wedding photog/videog, no need to tip if the florist owns the business.

Wedding Cake Baker – 0%

Same idea as above for photog/videog/florist.

Wedding DJ | Band | Musicians – $20 – $25 per musician, $50 – $150 for DJ

Tipping your music guys is completely optional, but by far, most people do, especially if they played beautiful string music for your ceremony, or really got the party started at your reception. Also, you can include the M/C in that dispersement as well, M/C’ing is a real skill separate and apart from the DJ, FYI!

money-dollars-envelopeWedding Transportation – 15% -20% of total bill

Transportation is another vendor that usually includes gratuities within their contract, so make sure to check! If not, plan on tipping but only if they 1. show up on time 2. don’t get lost, or 3. don’t get into an accident which is fault of their own (it happens!)

Wedding Hairstylist and Make-Up Artist – 15% – 25%

Gratuity is definitely expected; tip as you would in a normal hair salon, and go for a little extra if they have to handle any last minute style changes.

Wedding Officiant – Denominational – $250 – $500 donation; Non-denominational – $50 – $100

If you are getting married in a house of worship (church, synagogue, etc.), then often you’re expected to make a donation to the establishment; if you’re a member, then you may want to donate a higher amount ($500.00). But if they’re already charging you for using the ceremony space, then you can always donate a little less. If you are using a non-denominational officiant, an optional tip of $50 – $100 is a good.

Wedding Planner

Typically wedding planners do not receive a tip, but if your planner did an amazing job with your wedding, then either a nice gift or monetary compensation of no more than $500.00 (usually reserved for higher-end, extravagant weddings) should suffice.

Wedding Delivery and Set-up Staff- $5 – $10 per person

You can slide a few bucks to anyone delivering important items like your cake, flowers, or sound/light system. And if heavy-duty gear like tents, tables, chairs, etc., need to be brought in and set-up, the workers should get a tip as well. Drop off cash envelopes the day before the wedding to the banquet hall manager so the person accepting the deliveries can disburse the tips accordingly.

Bridal salons, stationers, chefs, and party rental companies do not have to be tipped (regardless of what they say!). Also, customarily it is the Best Man who is responsible for disbursing the tips during and after the reception. But, you can also always ask your wedding planner, or a trusted family or friend to handle the responsibility.

And last but not least, please do not forget to include tipping as part of your overall wedding budget. Tips, although a very nice gesture, can really start to add up, so be prepared ahead of time so you won’t run short on money for them or anything else!


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