Smart Start with Susan Southerland: Rules of Thumb for Tipping Wedding Vendors

Photo credit: Palm Beach Photography

Photo credit: Palm Beach Photography

One of the most common questions my couples ask me is whether they should tip their wedding vendors…and if so, how much. This is a topic with varying opinions. However, I do have some general rules of thumb that I’d like to share with you.

1. Tipping is not required, but it is always appreciated. Much like in other service industries, tipping is one way to express appreciation for good service from your wedding vendors. Giving gifts or gift cards is another way to convey thanks.

2. Tip your service provider, not the business owner. Gratuities should go to the person who actually provides the service. Sometimes this person is also the owner, so use your best judgment.

3. Be aware of gratuities that are built into contracts. In some cases, such as with caterers and transportation companies, gratuities and service fees are often built standard into the contract. Be sure to read the fine print to know if this applies. If your driver or catering staff go above and beyond, of course, you can always offer an additional tip.

4. Certain vendors expect tips more than others. Hair and makeup stylists, officiants, and delivery/setup staff are among the wedding vendors who typically expect tips as a standard. Other vendors, including wedding planners, photographers, videographers, and musicians, are more likely to think of tips as optional. Again, all tips will be appreciated for excellent service!

5. Gratuity amounts will vary. There are no universal “musts” on the amounts to tip your vendors. Much depends upon the length and quality of service provided. Here are some suggestions to serve as a guideline for vendors who don’t typically include gratuities in their contracts:
a. Officiants – $50- $100
b. Hair and Makeup Stylists – 15-20%
c. Photographer/Videographer – $50-$200
d. Musicians – $15-$25 per musician, or $50-$150 for DJs
e. Wedding Planners – $100-$500

I suggest that couples try to budget for tips or gifts when accounting for fees to their vendors. Your vendors will work hard to make sure your wedding day is everything you dream it will be, and this will be a great way for you to thank them!
SusanSoutherlandGetting engaged is such an exciting time. However, the exhilaration of saying “I will” can quickly be replaced by the overwhelming concerns surrounding planning a wedding.

I designed my Smart Start series to take the worry out of planning your wedding. Smart Start will be delivered to your inbox every week filled with tips on the business and the art sides of planning a wedding. It will break up your tasks into easy-to-accomplish segments so you can enjoy the planning process.

If you have questions or ideas, please don’t hesitate to email me at You may also find back issues of the Smart Start series by clicking HERE.


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