When it comes to tipping wedding vendors and reception attendants is probably the last thing on your mind. It is, however, a service industry standard practice. Luckily there is a simple way to know how much to tip each person. Before we get to the nitty-gritty of dollar and cents for tipping those who have helped in your special day, there are a few details to take care of.
First, we understand that how much to tip wedding vendors can be a touchy subject. Understand that a tip is never an obligation, unless it clearly states so in your contract that a service charge is necessary. Even though not all contracts will say that a service charge is expected, most vendors will expect a gratuity from you. It is up to you as to how to tip wedding vendors or whether tipping wedding vendors is something you are even going to do. Remember that you are not tipping the owners of these businesses, just their employees who are actually doing the service such as delivering décor or a cake. You can, however, tip the business owner if their service goes above and beyond your expectations. If you do not want to offer a monetary thank you, simple thank you notes go a very long way as well as do nice reviews on Facebook and Yelp.
Secondly, make sure that you have assigned someone to take care of handing out all of the tips for you. Tipping vendors at weddings is not something you want to be doing on your specicial day, so pick somebody you trust to handle it. This can be a maid of honor, best man, a close family member or friend who is not in the wedding party, or your wedding planner if you have one. Although it may seem impossible to think of relinquishing control over such amounts of money and entrusting them to someone else, it is not a detail a bride or groom should be worrying about on their big day. The wedding day should be as stress free as possible and you should be doing no running around to find the appropriate people you need to tip.
Below you can find a brief breakdown of specific people to tip, how much to tip them, and when the person in charge should hand out the tips.
This is one of those case-by-case scenarios. If your wedding planner was exceptional, then you will likely want to tip them. Be aware that they do not expect anything from you in the form of a gratuity, but even a simple thank you note with professional pictures are always appreciated If you do want to provide some form of gratuity, then it can be a nice gift or 15% of the fee they charged. This tip can be done at the end of the reception by the bride and groom themselves or can be mailed after the honeymoon.
The Beauty Team (Hair and Make-up Artist)
When you are getting your hair and make-up done for any event or even just on a day-to-day basis, a tip is always expected. Your wedding is no different. In fact, giving a tip to them on your wedding day is even more important than any other time. You should be tipping them 15-20% and if they have to take care of extras such a fixing someone’s hair or touching up the make-up, then be sure to throw in a little extra. These tips should be taken care of at the end of your services.
Delivery and Set-Up Staff
These tips go to anyone who is delivering anything for your wedding or to your suite for the big day. They should only be about $5-$10 per person depending on how much they are delivering and how far they have to go to deliver. You can give these tips to the catering manager or to your wedding planner before the event, so they can hand them out as the deliveries are made.
Those who pronounce you man and wife (The Wedding Officiant)
The wedding officiant is never expected to be tipped. If he or she belongs to a church, synagogue, or temple, then it is customary to make a donation to that place of worship. If you are a member, this may impact the amount you decide to donate. If you are also paying to use their venue for the reception, feel free to tip a smaller amount since they are charging you to rent out the space. If you are having a nondenominational officiant at a non-religious venue, then they will charge you for their services, so no tip is expected. As a general guideline, expect to make a donation of approximately $500 to the temple, church, or synagogue and you can give an optional tip of $50-$100 to a nondenominational officiant if you are exceptionally pleased with their services. These tips and donations can be done before the wedding, or if the officiant is at your rehearsal dinner, then the person in charge of tips can pass it to them.
Wedding Shutterbugs and Movie Makers (Photographer/Videographer)
You are never expected to tip the photographer or videographer if they are the owner of the studio, but if they are not, then consider giving each person a tip of $50-$200 per vendor at the end of the reception.
Wedding Reception Staff
The wedding reception staff will include your on-site coordinator, banquet manager, and head waiter. These people usually have an approximate 2% service fee built in to the contract, but if they do not, then a tip is necessary. The tip for each should be 15-20 % of the cost of labor for the food and beverage. These tips are taken care of before the wedding if they are included in the contract; otherwise you need to wait until the end of the reception, so you have the final bill to figure out percentages.
This includes your bartenders, waiters, parking, bathroom, and coat-room attendants if you have them. Deciding how much to tip them can usually be found in your contract. You can always tip extra if you feel as though the service was exceptional. If these costs are not included in your contract, be sure to call ahead and ask how many of each will be at the wedding, so you can figure out the tips beforehand. Each bartender and waiter should get $20-$25. Each bathroom, coatroom, and parking attendant should get between $1-$2 per guest or per car. It is a good idea to pass out these tips before the actual wedding, so it will hopefully encourage them to provide you with outstanding service.
Reception Band or DJ
This is another situation where it is a case-by-case basis. It all depends on the quality of the service they do and how closely they followed your suggested playlist. It should be about $20-$25 per musician or $50-$150 for the DJ. These tips should be given out by the person in charge or your tips at the end of the reception.
This is another situation where gratuity is often stipulated in the contract. If it is not, then a tip is expected assuming they show up on time and do not get lost on their way. The tip should be 15-20% percent of the total bill. These tips can be given at the end of the night or after your last ride in them. If you provided guest busses using a different company, make sure to put someone in charge of providing them with a tip or have the best man do it.
Never feel obligated to give a tip if the service was not what you expected. The most important thing to remember about some of these optional tips is that sometimes a thank-you note or a personal gift means a lot more than cash.