Weddings are complicated ventures whether you are booking the vendors yourself or working with a wedding planner. Expensive, too. And what if we told you that an extra $1,000 is needed for tips.
That’s right, tips. It’s smart to budget a little something extra for the makeup artist that made the bride sparkle and the florist who got the groom’s mother to smile for the first time the whole day.
“Tipping is becoming increasingly common and while it may seem uncomfortable for some couples and families,” writes wedding planner Nicole McCann of Exhale Events on her blog, “and how much to give is a valid question.”
But how much and who should get a tip? This wedding tipping guide will help you figure out how much to budget long before the big day.
Should You Even Tip Wedding Vendors?
Not all wedding vendors get tipped, but most of them do. Some of the workers, like parking attendants, hair and makeup, reception staff, and the band or DJ depend on tips. According to wedding site The Knot, even conservative tipping can impact your wedding budget. You should also set aside at least $800 for gratuities.
Tipping Wedding Vendors Tips
It’s easier in the long run to build gratuities into your wedding budget planning, so there are no surprises at the end. In this guide will tell you:
- Who should get tipped
- How much to tip
- Who is optional to tip
- Who you don’t have to worry about tipping at all
And just so you aren’t awkwardly thrusting money in someone’s hand at the wrong time, we let you know when you should fork over the money.
When you or your planner are working on contracts, clarify whether gratuities or a service fee for each wedding vendor are already built into the cost. Don’t assume the service charge is an employee tip.
You (or the people who keep offering to help) can write thank you notes for each vendor with the tips already included before the wedding. Then you just pick a trusted friend or relative to hand them out at the end of the reception.
You don’t have to tip the owner of a large, established business, but you might be tipping their staff. For small business owners, it is okay to tip, since they might be a one person operation.
We are here to take the worry about how much to tip wedding vendors away. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
How to Tip
Put going to the bank and getting cash a few days before the wedding on the to-do list. Cash tips can be put in envelopes and pre-labeled with the intended recipient’s name. Pick a responsible friend or relative to be in charge of handing them out at the end of each facet of the wedding (rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception).
We note below that some of tipping your wedding vendor can happen both before and after the wedding.
How Much to Tip Wedding Vendors
Some vendors can be tipped the day of the event and some can receive their gratuity in the mail or via credit card when you settle the bill.
Flowers are an integral part of the wedding and reception. Florists often guide you through the whole decision process. Florists may not expect a tip, but it is common to give them $50 to $100, depending on how elaborate your flower arrangements are. You can mail the florist a thank you note with the check or cash.
You should definitely tip the florist delivery people, $10 to $20 each, depending on how complicated the set up is for them. Tip them at the time of the delivery.
Stationer: No tip
You do not have to tip the stationer, but a thank you card or nice review on the website is a nice gesture.
Set Up and Delivery Staff: $5-$10
People delivering and setting up tables, chairs, tents, flowers, cakes, etc. should be tipped $5 to $10 each, depending on how complicated their tasks are. The wedding planner or coordinator can be responsible for giving them their tips.
Wedding Officiant: $50-$100
Tipping the wedding officiant depends on whether it is a religious service or secular. It also depends on if they are voluntary or hired. If your ceremony takes place in a church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious institution, you make a donation to the institution.
If there is already a fee for using the religious institution, you can still tip the wedding officiant between $50-100. You would lean toward the higher amount if you had premarital counseling or other special services.
If you hired the wedding officiant, then you can tip between 15-20% of the fee up to $75, if they have provided exceptional service.
Wedding Planner/Coordinator: Up to 15% of the Bill
There is a difference between a wedding coordinator and a wedding planner. Wedding planners help you achieve your wedding vision from the beginning (and are a big help in understanding tipping wedding vendors). They help set the wedding budget, negotiate contracts with vendors, and oversee the whole project.
A coordinator is responsible for the logistics of the rehearsal, ceremony, and reception. You would plan your wedding, and the coordinator would start working with you a month or so before the date through the wedding reception to ensure everything goes smoothly.
If the wedding has gone amazingly well, it is nice gift to give the coordinator 10-15% of the bill after the wedding or honeymoon.
Ceremony Musicians: Up to 15% of the Bill
Plan on tipping the ceremony musicians either 10-15% of their fee or $10 to $15 per musician at the end of the ceremony. Have a trusted person hand them cash envelopes.
Valet/Parking Attendants: $1-$2 Per Vehicle
Usually tips for the parking attendants are covered for guests. Estimate a $1 to $2 tip per vehicle at both the wedding and the reception, if they are in different locations. If there are different workers at each venue, it’s easiest to give a cash tip to the lead valet to split up. You should let guests know that tips are taken care of already.
Chauffeur: Up to 20% of the Bill
Review the contracts from transportation companies to see if gratuities or a service fee is already included. If it isn’t included, or if the limo driver was fabulous, 15-20% of the total bill is perfect. Remember, they have a long day too, from the beginning of the wedding to possibly the end of the reception. Tip them after the final ride.
The same rule goes if you have hired a party bus for everyone. Check to see if there are service charges included. If not, tip 15-20%, and of course, always give more for great service.
Venue Coordinator/Catering Manager: $100-$200
Often the venue coordinator or catering manager does a lot of the things a wedding planner or coordinator would be doing, for much less money. Usually they are tipped, but as always, check your contract to see if a service fee is already included. Plan on $100 to $200, at the end of the reception or mailed later.
Catering Staff: Up to 20% of Bill
Check your contract to see what, if any, gratuities are included. If none, then tip 15-20% of the final bill. If the wait staff did a great job, then you can throw in another $5 to $10 even if there is already a service fee.
Bartender: Up to 20% of Bill
Bartenders might already be covered in the catering contract or by a drink fee, so check before tipping them. You can tip 10-20% of the bar bill for them to split at the end of the night if there isn’t a built-in gratuity. If you have a cash bar, let them put a tip jar out, but still tip.
Wedding DJ: Up to 15% of Bill
A wedding DJ is another small business owner that it is okay to tip. Plan on 10-15% of the bill, with the higher amount if they’ve emceed all night.
Wedding Musicians: $10 to $15 Per Musician
This is similar to the ceremony musicians, either a flat 10-15% of their fee or $10 to $15 per musician, at the end of the reception.
Photographer and Videographer: Up to $100
Wedding vendor tipping suggests you don’t tip owners, just their employees. If your photographer has an assistant and they have given great service, then tip the assistant $50.
Wedding photographers get tipped too, $50 to $100 if you are happy, Send the tip when you have gotten all of your photos.
Wedding Cake Baker: Up to 15% of Bill
The wedding cake is one of the most memorable parts of the reception. Tipping the cake baker isn’t expected but it is pretty common. You would tip them 10-15% of the final bill. You can send them a card after the wedding with the tip.
Hair and Makeup: Up to 20% of Bill
You will probably see both the hair and makeup artist at least twice. Once is for the trial run and then again for the wedding. You tip 15-20% each time: when you visit the hair salon and on the wedding day.
If your wedding hairstylist is doing the whole wedding party, and you are paying for it, you still tip about 20% of the total bill.
It is the same procedure with the makeup artist. For your trial run and wedding you tip 15-20% each time.
What About the Rehearsal Dinner?
Gratuities will likely be included in the overall bill, but of course you can always throw more in if expectations are exceeded. Guests should bring some cash for tips if they are ordering at the bar.
If the dinner was catered or a pretty grand affair, you might want to tip the banquet manager for making it go smoothly, about 15% at the end of the night
Other Ways to Thank People
Not all wedding vendors expect a tip, but you might still want to thank them for making the day so special. You can tip the business owners with a thank you card, small gift, or gift basket.
Posting positive reviews or sharing photos from your wedding for them to use for their marketing materials are other ways. Just because these wedding pros own businesses doesn’t mean they don’t love a thoughtful gesture.
The Penny Hoarder contributor JoEllen Schilke writes on lifestyle and culture topics. She is the former owner of a coffee shop in St.Petersburg, Florida, and has hosted an arts show on WMNF community radio for nearly 30 years.