It's no secret that weddings cost a lot (both time and money). Though the exact reasons for high wedding costs are complex (supply and demand, rent district, payroll, insurance costs, etc.), the vendors that you've hired, and the staff that they've hired, have put tons of hours and energy into making you day as perfect as possible. To say thank you, it is entirely appropriate to show your gratitude with a tip. The questions that I'm going to answer today are, which wedding vendors to tip and how much to tip them (if at all).
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Here is a compilation of my own tipping tips, combined with a few well written guidelines from Wedaholic.com.
How to Tip Your Wedding Vendors
Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Beautician - 15% - 20% of your total bill.
Officiant (Clergy, Priest, Minister etc) - If you're getting married in the church, officiants do not usually ask for financial compensation for their services. They do expect you to make a donation to the church or their organization. As to the amount of the donation, traditionally they will suggest an amount when you finalize arrangements with them. The amount varies from a flat fee to an honorarium and can range from $50 up to $500. If you are expecting the officiant to travel outside of their local area then you should also compensate them for their travel costs.
If you are having a non-denominational ceremony, performed by a professional non-denominational officiant, a $50-$100 tip is appropriate.
Transportation (chauffeurs, limousine drivers, horse-drawn carriages, etc) - 15%-20% of the total of the bill, if it's not already included in the bill.
Valets and Parking Attendants - Tips should range from $1 - $2 per car.
Coat Check and Restroom Attendants - Tips should range from $1 - $2 per guest.
Waiters and waitresses - Check to ensure whether a service charge is included in the caterer’s contract. If it's not included, you should expect to tip 15% - 20% of the total food bill.
Catering/Venue Manager – Traditionally the caterers and venue management will calculate a tip into their cost estimate, in the form of a service charge. With that said, the meal timing and wait staff management responsibilities rests heavily on this person's shoulders. An additional thank you of $1 - $2 per guest is a nice touch if they've done a good job.
Bartenders - This gratuity is usually accounted for in the service charge listed in your catering contract. If this is not the case then you might want to tip the bartenders 10% of the total amount of the liquor bill. This amount can be shared out between them equally if there is more than one bartender.
Seamstress/dress fitter - Although it is not customary to tip your seamstress or dress fitter if you feel that they have made an extra special effort on your behalf then tip them between $15 - $30.
Wedding Planner - Wedding planners work for a set fee and will not expect a tip. With that said, may incur additional and unexpected costs during the process of pulling all of your wedding details together. If they've done a wonderful job and you want to show them how grateful you are, a tip ranging from $100-$500, or 10% of their total fee is more than adequate.
Delivery Staff (including Florist, Bakers etc.) - Staff responsible for your flowers and wedding cake do not expect to receive a tip. However if you feel that they have provided you with exceptional service and/or outstanding quality of products then a tip of $20 - $50 per person is nice.
Church Organist or Church Musician - This fee is usually included in the rental fee for the church. You should check your paperwork and if this is not the case you should tip them between $50 - $75 per person.
Musicians - It is usually nice to tip your live reception musicians. They've spent years honing their art. If they've performed to your satisfaction then you should allow $35 - $75 per band member.
DJ - DJs are payed a flat rate, so a tip isn't expected. However, as with the musicians, if you consider the DJ’s performance to have made your wedding reception the fun party that you'd hoped it would be, a tip in the range of 10% - 20% of their fee is appropriate.
*Photographers - While photographers don't expect a tip, if you want to reward them for going above and beyond for you, a tip ranging from $100-$500, or 10% of their total fee is more than adequate. A tip of $50-$75 is a nice touch for saying thank you to an assistant photographer as well.
*section revised on 9/1/10 after receiving and reviewing industry feedback.
What to do if you can't afford to tip:
Referrals, referrals, referrals! This is a relationship and word of mouth based industry. A nice handwritten thank you note and referrals are always greatly appreciated.
But, what if you don't know of anyone else getting married in the near future? No worries, most wedding vendors do corporate events and other social events, and would be delighted receive such business.
My photographer friend Melissa Musgrove also suggested the following non-monetary thank you/follow up ideas:
"A posting on YELP, Facebook, [or wedding/event blogs] etc. is a nice.
A phone call or email to your catering manager, to express the joy that you experienced working with your photographer, [florist, wedding coordinator, etc.] " is also GREATLY appreciated (nice addition Melissa!).
"On the flip side if a client is unhappy with the slightest thing. They should contact the [vendor] directly and swiftly to give the [vendor] the opportunity to make things right."
Now that you know who to tip, how much to tip and what to do if you can't afford to tip or want to go above and beyond, you shouldn't have a doubt in your mind as to whether or not you've adequately thanked everyone.
I hope you found this information to be helpful!
If you'd like any more guidance, or information about our wedding planning services in Los Angeles, Ojai, Santa Barbara, San Francisco or New York, give us a call anytime at (310)614-1073.