As y’all know, I’m planning a wedding of my own (whoo!), and something that has befuddled me from day one is wedding tipping etiquette. There are so many different sources offering advice, and so many different dollar amounts recommended for so many different vendors at so many different times, that your head can start to spin long before you start separating cash out into envelopes.
Plus, when you’re already shelling out thousands of dollars per vendor, you might find yourself feeling, ahem, a little less than grateful at the thought of tipping on top of your final bill. Believe me, I completely understand! BUT, if you remember that tipping is never required, and should only be used to reward exemplary service, you might begin to feel a little differently.
In case you find yourself wanting to tip certain vendors, I’ve distilled advice from several different sources, including Emily Post, Martha Stewart, and my Momma, and then added in my own two cents. I also put together a handy tipping cheat sheet for us all, which you can download at the bottom of the post and tuck into your pocket come wedding day!
Finally, remember that while cash or a gift is always appreciated, a grateful spirit on your wedding day and a genuine, thoughtful thank you note after your wedding are quite possibly the best thank yous you can give your vendors.
Michelle Warren via Southern Weddings
Should I tip? If your planner owns her own business, then no tip is expected, since it’s not customary to tip the owner of a business. However, if you would like to recognize exemplary performance, a personal gift or check is an option.
How much? Up to $500, or 15% of her fee, or a nice gift
When? We recommend sending a thank you note and your check or gift after you return from your honeymoon.
Jodi Miller via Southern Weddings
Delivery and Set-up Staff
Should I tip? It’s a lovely gesture, especially if they were careful to set everything up to your specifications and without causing damage to the surroundings.
How much? $5 – $10 per person
When? Drop off envelopes with your catering manager or wedding planner if they’ll be accepting deliveries on your behalf
Wedding Photographer or Videographer
Should I tip? As most photographers and videographers own their own businesses, tipping is not expected or required in this case. Again, a personal gift is always a lovely touch.
Wedding Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist
Should I tip? Yes, this is one area where a gratuity is definitely expected. However, the owning-their-own-business exception is still in effect, so keep that in mind.
How much? 15-20%, just as you would for a normal appointment
When? On the day of your wedding, after she’s finished getting you prettified
Photos by Tim Will and Caroline Joy (via SW here + here)
Should I tip? Check your contract, because a gratuity is usually included. If it’s not, then one is pretty much expected.
How much? 15-20% of the total bill
When? When the driver picks you up or after the last ride
Virgil Bunao via Southern Weddings
Wedding Ceremony Officiant
Should I tip? It isn’t necessary to tip religious officiants like a priest or minister (many of them, in fact, won’t accept cash tips). In lieu of a tip, a donation to their house of worship is a nice gesture. It’s not expected that you’ll tip a civil employee or non-religious officiant, either (and sometimes, in the case of civil employees, tipping can be illegal). For all officiants, a personal gift, such as a gift certificate to a nice restaurant, would certainly be appreciated.
How much? Approximately $100
When? At the rehearsal or rehearsal dinner
Wedding Ceremony Musicians
Should I tip? This one’s definitely optional. If the string trio you hired has arranged or learned a particular song for you at no additional charge, then a tip might be a nice gesture.
How much? $15 – $20 per musician, or 15% of total fee
When? Before the musicians leave your ceremony site
A Bryan Photo via Southern Weddings
Wedding Reception Band or DJ
Should I tip? It’s completely optional, but somewhat common. For bands that book their own gigs (i.e. separate from an entertainment agency), tipping is not customary.
How much? If you choose to tip, set aside $20-$50 per musician or $25-$150 for DJs
When? Before they leave the reception
Ulmer Studios via Southern Weddings
Wedding Reception Staff
Should I tip? Oh boy, this one’s the big guy. Yes, you should tip, but make sure a gratuity is not already included in your contract.
How much? There are two ways to tip. The first is to tip as a percentage of the cost of your total catering bill – 15-20%. The second way (which is often more economical), is to tip each staff member individually. If you’re going that route, here is the rule of thumb: catering manager, banquet manager, headwaiter, or maitre d’: $100-$300 or 1-3% of food and beverage fees; chef: $50-$100; waiters and kitchen staff: $20-$30 each; bartenders: 10% of the total liquor bill (to be split among them) or $20-$25 per bartender
When? Before you leave the reception
Now, as promised, my handy cheat sheet for tipping at your wedding – enjoy!
Jodi Miller, Josh McCullock, Melissa Schollaert, and Scobey Photography are fabulous members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!