First thing I must say when tipping your wedding professional team, please remember that it is not a mandatory expense. Gratuities should only be given to those wedding professionals who you felt have gone above and beyond their contracted duties. Small business owners should never be overlooked either since their businesses are often run by just one person. Before dishing out gratuity, double-check your contracts. Some professionals will include it in their contract, and I wouldn’t want you double tipping. Also, keep in mind that this is a guide. There really is no set number in what you should tip. You tip what you want, and trust me, any tip a vendor gets will be a surprise.
Lastly, a review is the BEST tip you can give any vendor. So if you cannot tip monetarily, PLEASE remember to at least leave them a glowing review.
THE MYTH ABOUT NOT TIPPING OWNERS
It is not uncommon to read articles that tell you that IF the individual providing the service is also the owner of the company, you do not technically need to tip them. Here is my take on that:
If you were to go out to eat, you would not tip the owner of the restaurant, right? BUT, if the owner was also the person taking your order, making sure you’re taken care of, bringing your food and topping off your drinks, then YES, you would absolutely give them a tip, right?
It’s my opinion that it works the same for your wedding pros.
For example, if you are using a DJ who is subcontracted to work for a company, you would tip the DJ, not the owner. But if the owner was also the DJ working with you throughout the process AND their playing some killer tunes on your wedding day and keeping all of your guests on the dance floor all night long, then it’s a great idea to pass along a tip to them.
How Much: $50 if you’re married by a judge, clerk or officiant. Clergy members, in general, don’t accept tips, so instead, make a donation to the appropriate house of worship.
MAITRE D’ OR VENUE COORDINATOR
Sometimes referred to as a “Captain” or banquet manager. This tip may already be included in your total agreement with the catering company and/or venue. Be sure to check first.
How Much: $1 – $2 per guest
SERVERS & WAIT STAFF
This is very possibly something that is already included in your caterer or venue contract. Look this over carefully PRIOR to the wedding day to avoid double-tipping or forgetting to give them a tip. If it is not clear whether a tip is provided or how many staff members there will be, be sure to ask your contact with that company. Also, keep in mind that a “service charge” is often different than a tip.
How Much: $15-30 per staff member
You may wish to have a “tip jar” out on the bar where your guests can choose to tip their bartenders. I’m not a huge fan of this, but it’s a personal preference. Just remember if you do not wish to have a tip jar out, that you should then take care of a tip for the bartenders on your guests’ behalf (if it’s not included in your contract). Inform the bartenders of your intent to tip after the reception, and request that they refuse tips from guests.
How Much: 10-15% of the total pre-tax bar bill, which should be split among the bartenders. OR $40-$75 per bartender
DJ & EMCEES
How Much: 10%-15% of the cost of services up to $150
BANDS, LIVE MUSICIANS & ENTERTAINERS
How Much: $20-$50 per entertainer
HAIR STYLISTS, MAKE-UP ARTISTS & OTHER BEAUTY TECHNICIANS
How Much: 15-20% of the cost of services
DRIVERS FOR LIMOS, SHUTTLES, BUSSES, TROLLEYS, ETC.
The total tip amount depends on the extent to which they are driving you and/or your guests. Are they just making a few trips, or are they working all day?
How Much: If it is not included in the contract, $50-100 per driver
VALETS, COAT CHECK OR BATHROOM ATTENDANTS
Display a sign stating that gratuities have been taken care of. The staff should also be instructed to refuse any tips offered by guests.
How Much: $1 – $3 per guest, to be split
DELIVERY PERSON FOR FLORALS, RENTALS, CAKE, ETC.
It is not “required” or common to tip these individuals, but a small gratuity is always a nice touch.
How Much: $5 – $20 per person, depending on much heavy-lifting they’re doing
PHOTOGRAPHER, VIDEOGRAPHER & PLANNERS/COORDINATORS
These pros will often be spending the most time with you throughout the day and it’s important to appreciate their hard work and attention to detail. If they will be having any assistants, you can also extend an optional tip to them.
How Much: 5% – 10% of the cost of services – $25-$50+ per assistant, depending on their level of involvement
HOW YOU SHOULD GIVE YOUR WEDDING TEAM THEIR TIPS
It’s most ideal to pass along your wedding vendor tips (and final payments if necessary) to your wedding planner/coordinator or to a trusted family member (like mom or dad). That way you won’t be worrying about getting it to them while you’re occupied with your big day. Make sure they are in sealed envelopes with the person’s name and/or role written on it so that there is no confusion.