The Art of Saying Thank You | Vendor Tipping 101
One of most most common questions we get is regarding gratuities for vendors. Like most Brides, tipping on your wedding day is the last thing on your mind. Especially after shelling out what you already have just to reach the aisle! Trust us, we understand. Whether or not you choose to leave your vendors gratuity – and how much you leave – is absolutely your choice. Keep in mind that gratuity, by definition, is something given voluntarily for a service. But… since a successful wedding day is most definitely the result of great planning and hard working folks behind-the-scenes, it’s important to offer them a little something to show your appreciation.
When asked how… we advise our clients to decide how much – and to whom – they would like to leave a gratuity, create an envelope for each, enclose a quick note and appropriate tip, address to whom shall receive it, and seal it up! We typically collect the envelopes during ceremony rehearsal the day before and distribute to the correct vendors, but they can be passed out at any point before, during or after wedding day.
So now on to the BIG question… HOW MUCH, they ask us! For this, we trust the always reliable The Knot! They seem to have this down pretty well and, let’s be honest… they seem to know a whole lot about wedding etiquette! So, copied straight from The Knot Tipping Cheat Sheet we go.
Wedding Planner / Coordinator
Wedding planners won’t likely expect anything; however, if yours did a great job you can always offer a token of your appreciation. (Note: Non-monetary thank-yous like professional photos of the wedding for the planner’s portfolio can go a long way too.) Approximately 50 percent of couples do tip their planners — typically those with more opulent weddings.
The $tandard: $100 to $500, or a nice gift
When to Tip: The bride should hand off the envelope at the end of the reception, or, she should send a thank-you note with photos or a check after the honeymoon.
Wedding Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist
This is one area where a gratuity is definitely expected. Tip between 15 – 20 percent just as you would in a hair salon, and consider giving a little extra if there’s a crisis, like one of your bridesmaids has a meltdown over her updo and it requires a redo at the last minute.
The $tandard: 15 – 25 percent, depending upon the quality of service
When to Tip: At the end of your service
Wedding Delivery and Set-up Staff
Slip a few dollars to anyone delivering important items to the site (wedding cake, flowers, or sound system). And if a lot of gear needs to be brought in and set up (tents, chairs, or port-a-potties), the workers deserve a tip too.
The $tandard: $5 – $10 per person
When to Tip: Drop off cash envelopes the day before the wedding to the catering manager so the person accepting deliveries can turn the tip.
Wedding Ceremony Officiant
If your officiant is affiliated with a church or synagogue, you’re often expected to make a donation to that institution. If you’re a member you’ll probably want to give a larger amount than if you’re not. However, if you’re getting married there and they’re charging you to use the space, feel free to give a smaller amount. If you’re using a nondenominational officiant, no tip is required because they will charge you for their time.
Protocol: Expected (depending on officiant)
The $tandard: Donate $500+ to the church or synagogue, or, for a nondenominational officiant, an optional tip of $50 – $100
When to Tip: Most ceremony fees are required prior to the wedding. Otherwise, have the best man pass the cash envelope at the rehearsal dinner if the officiant is in attendance.
Wedding Ceremony Musicians
If you worked with a mini orchestra to come up with the perfect score for your service (and they pulled it off flawlessly), consider showing some monetary thanks for their talent. However, you probably don’t have to tip the solo church organist who was required to play.
The $tandard: $15 – $20 per musician
When to Tip: At the end of the ceremony.
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).
The $tandard: $50 – $200 per vendor
When to Tip: At the end of the reception.
Wedding Reception Staff
This type of staff includes the on-site coordinator, maitre d’, and banquet manager. A service charge (typically 2 percent) is almost always built in to the food and drink fee, so check your contract. If the gratuity is not included, tip as follows.
The $tandard: 15 – 20 percent of the food and drink fee (based on labor, not the cost), or $200 – $300 for the maitre d’.
When to Tip: If it’s covered in the contract, the final bill is typically due before the reception. Otherwise, have the father of the bride or best man hand the envelope to the maitre d’ at the end of the reception since you will need to know the final tab to calculate the percentage.
Wedding Reception Attendants
When it comes to bartenders, waitstaff, parking, bathroom, and coat-room attendants the rules of tipping are dictated by your contract. If the service fee is included, 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.
Protocol: Optional, based on contract
The $tandard: $20 – $25 per bartender or waiter; $1 per guest for coat room and parking attendants; $1 per car
When to Tip: Although tips are traditionally passed out at the end of the event, you could alternately distribute them at the beginning of the evening, to encourage all the workers to give you great service.
Wedding Reception Band or DJ
Whether you hire 12-piece swing band or grooving to a DJ, tipping musicians is completely optional. (Depending on the quality of the job and how willing they were to follow your ideal playlist!) And don’t forget about any sound technicians they bring with them.
Protocol: Optional, yet preferred
The $tandard: $20 – $25 per musician; $50 – $150 for DJs
When to Tip: At the end of the reception, by the best man.
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!
The $tandard: 15 – 20 percent of the total bill
When to Tip: At the end of the night or after the last ride. If you used a separate company for the guest buses, designate a bus captain to hand the driver a tip, otherwise, this duty falls to the best man.
Some vendor tipping resources, as the above, will suggest a tip is not necessary for one that owns their own company; however, many other sources disagree. We personally suggest brides tip any vendors that serve them throughout the entirety of their event. Finally, remember that while cash or a gift is always greatly appreciated, a grateful spirit on your wedding day and a genuine, thoughtful thank you note after your wedding are quite possibly the best thank yous you can give your vendors!