Tipping Wedding Vendors – Who and How Much

While every aspect of your wedding seems budgeted out and payments to vendors are made well before your actual wedding, it’s only natural to realize that you have forgotten to account for vendor tips.  The more vendors you hire and the more they charge, the higher the tip amount may be expected.  So, let’s jump right into this – who gets the luxury of the last few pennies left in your wallet?

If your ceremony is being held in a church or place of worship, you may already have incurred a fee to have your wedding held there or you may be expected to “make a donation”.  On top of that, be prepared to give a thank you gift to the priest or officient of around $100 for their service for the day.  If you are married by a non-religious attendant you hire, then you can forego a tip.  These individuals are already being paid a rate for their service so a tip is not necessary. 

Reception / Catering StaffFirst, review your contract to see if gratuity is already included for individual such as banquet servers.  If not, plan on tipping around $20-$30 per server and bartender.  However, the banquet manager and chef are generally not included in the gratuity listed in the contract.  Estimate 20% of the food and beverage total for the banquet manager or if that amount is too high for you, plan on $200-$300 for the banquet manager.  They are directing everything going on at your reception and serve as the key to making sure your day goes off without a hitch.  Plan on $50 for each main chef.

Wedding Planner / CoordinatorIf your wedding planner owns his/her own business, you are not expected to tip them.  If your planner / coordinator is an employee at a wedding planning company and they are assigned to work your wedding, you may want to tip them anywhere from $100-$500, depending on the level of service they provided and how involved they were in your wedding planning process.  Did they plan every detail for you from start to finish and you felt they did a wonderful job?  Thank them with a generous tip or gift.

Photographer / VideographerAgain, if your photographer / videographer owns their own business, you are not expected to tip them.  Their fees are already negotiated in your contract (trust me, they built in some of the fee for themselves).  If you feel they went above and beyond and you can’t wait to recommend them to your best friend who just got engaged, or if the photographer who worked your wedding is not the business owner, plan on $50-$200 per photographer / videographer and half the amount for their assistants. 

Florist and Transportation Drivers
Florists (not business owners) should be tipped 15-20% of the total bill and any transportation you hire should receive the same.  However, if even after you provided detailed directions to the driver he got lost and you were late to your own wedding, I’d say forget it!  It’s their job to make sure they know where they are going before your big day.

Band / DJEach band member and tech person should be tipped equally (although you may want to give a little more to the main singers).  Estimate $25 per band member and at least $50 for each main singer.  If you hire a DJ, a tip of $50 is adequate.

Hair Stylists / Make Up Artists
They are there to make you look fabulous and if they succeed, they should be rewarded.  Estimate 20% as if you were going to a salon for a regular appointment.  With make up artists, make sure you discuss whether you are required to purchase the make up that will be used in advance of if they are going to bring their own. 

You can plan all this out ahead of time so you are not scrambling the day of the wedding.  All you have to do is have small thank you cards (I used something like these:  http://www.weddingdepot.com/catalog/product_info.php/products_id/341).  Write a little note in each one to personalize it and make up your envelopes in advance.  You can either distribute them at the end of the night or have someone like the best man do it for you.  Don’t forget the make up and hair stylists earlier on in the day! 

Also, if you feel your vendors went above and beyond, contact them after the wedding and offer to write a recommendation for them on their website or serve as a reference.  They will greatly appreciate it!


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