Everyone Wants to Know About Tipping

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We get a lot of questions about tipping your wedding vendors.

Questions about whether it’s already part of a vendor’s fee, whether owners get tipped and how much is appropriate. So, we chatted with industry experts, Perfect Wedding Guide vendors, and couples across the country.

perfect wedding guide - expert wedding advice - tipping wedding vendors

First, make sure you check your contract because sometimes caterers and transportation companies will automatically include the gratuity in the bill which is usually 15 to 20 percent. Read your contracts carefully to avoid accidentally double-tipping.

Be sure to ask questions about ‘service charges.’ In many cases, services charges are not a gratuity or only a small portion of this goes to the staff.

As a general rule, don’t tip the owner of a business. This person is self-employed and sets their fees and in many cases may charge a higher rate for themselves than other staff members. This rule goes for a DJ, photographer videographer, or florist that owns the company, or the hair-salon owner who does your up-do.

You may want to consider tipping your (independent) wedding planner who has been by your side from start to finish. You might want to show your thanks with a tip (up to 15 percent of their fee) or a nice gift. Wedding planners tend not to remember to pamper themselves so a spa treatment can be a great gift.

If someone goes above and beyond what they were hired to do, such as your cake baker accommodating the last minute change to your guest count, or the florist finding a replacement basket for the flower girl after she loses the first one, consider thanking them with a gift certificate, a bottle of wine, or another gracious gift.

Ask your wedding planner, best man, or a trusted friend or family member to pass out tips at the end of the wedding. A plain business envelope filled with cash works just fine, but adding a handwritten thank you note will go a long way. Regardless, you should send a thank you note!

Write a positive review for them on Perfect Wedding Guide to show the world how great of a job they did.

If you aren’t sure how much to tip, here are some ranges we see across the county:

  • Hair and makeup artists 15-20 percent of the total bill.
  • Musicians should get $25-$50 each.
  • The officiant is usually tipped $50 if you’re married by a judge or clergy. Clergy members often don’t accept tips, either. Therefore, you can donate to the appropriate house of worship.
  • Wedding planners junior staffers should be tipped $50-$100 each.
  • Professional photographers or videographers receive $100-$200, but second shooters should receive $50-$75.
  • The catering manager usually gets anywhere between $250-$500.
  • Wait staff receives 15 percent of the total pre-tax bill for food, which should be given to the manager to distribute.
  • Bartenders also receive 10-15 percent of the total pre-tax bar bill, which should be split between all the bartenders. Let them know of your intent to tip after the reception, and request that they refuse tips from guests.
  • Lastly, any delivery people should be tipped $5-$20 per person for deliveries from your florist, baker, rental company, and other vendors. These people do a lot of heavy lifting, setup, and tear down.

Having everything organized before the wedding day is ideal. However, aside from hair and makeup artists, servers and bartenders, and transportation companies (who are usually tipped when services are rendered); taking care of others after the wedding when you have taken time to soak in the day and write an appropriate thank you note works too.

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