When creating your overall wedding budget, did you also know that you should account for vendor tips? A number of different professionals help make your big day a success, which is why you shouldn't forget to express gratitude for all of their hard work. From your catering staff and your photographer to the drivers that shuttle around your guests from ceremony to reception, you should make sure that everyone is accounted for. "Just as you would tip your hairstylist, nail technician, or server, I absolutely believe that you should tip all of your service vendors for your wedding," shares wedding planner Robyn Swink. "A tip is never required, but always appreciated. As far as how much to tip, take into consideration a couple of factors: time invested and working together, quality of service, cost of service, and number of team members you actively worked with."
In the past, it wasn't advised to tip certain vendors for your wedding. Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman shares, "Historically, business owners did not expect a tip. But, as times have changed and small business owners go above and beyond for exceptional service and are often the sole proprietor, offering a token of generosity is a kind gesture. Small business owners also hire extra help for significant events and tipping will help cover the cost of the vendors. Thoughtfully consider rewarding their efforts with a tip if they go above and beyond." Lizzie Post, co-president of the Emily Post Institute, adds, "Whether it is in the form of cash, gift certificate, or an actual gift, or however you decide to style your thank you, send it personally from you as a couple, along with a heartfelt note expressing your appreciation after your day." She also notes that tip jars should not be displayed at the festivities. "You never want your guests to feel like they are being asked to tip for the services engaged."
While some tips are given the day of the wedding, others are already included within your vendors' fees. "Review each contract and see if your agreement with your caterer or other vendors includes a prepaid gratuity," recommends Gottsman. "This will avoid you accidentally tipping twice. A service fee is different than gratuity, so it’s important not to get them confused."
Familiarize yourself with the following lists, and get ready to grab some cash before the big day. Ahead, we provide the ultimate list of how much to tip your wedding vendors.
Meet the Expert
- Robyn Swink is the founder and designer at Southern Affairs Weddings & Events in Texas.
- Jennifer Matthews is the founder of Memorable Events, LLC, a wedding and event planning company in New England.
- Diane Gottsman is an international etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Texas.
- Lizzie Post is the author of Higher Etiquette, and co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette 19th edition. She is also the co-president of the Emily Post Institute.
- Sunna Yassin is the co-founder of the full-service wedding planning company Bash Please.
- Jenny Quicksall is a fine-art wedding photographer based in Southern California.
Hiring a professional officiant to perform your wedding ceremony? Then be prepared to offer a tip. If your officiant is a member of the clergy, you may not be able to tip him or her directly, but you can make an additional donation to the house of worship. Gottsman shares, "A donation of $100 would be a fair honorarium." For non-clergy, tip around $50 to $100 before the wedding ceremony. If they are in attendance at the reception dinner, this would be a good time to extend the gratuity. However, Gottsman adds, "If a civil officiant presides over your ceremony at the courthouse, the law prohibits gratuity."
Photographer and Videographer
Traditionally, photographers and videographers did not require a tip as they are business owners. However, a cash tip is always appreciated by these wedding professionals, who spend hours with you on the big day. "We don’t expect to be tipped on wedding days," shares photographer Jenny Quicksall. "But, when our clients are inclined to tip (about 50 percent of the time), they tip us between five to ten percent. This includes the dollars tipped out to the rest of my team. The amount of time we spend before and after the wedding day on our clients sometimes goes unnoticed, but when our clients appreciate our work and tip us (no matter the amount), a small token goes a long way."
Wedding planner Jennifer Matthews of Memorable Events, LLC shares that she generally sees photographers and videographers receive tips, and the total number a couple gives them is is indicative of the level of skill that their work requires. "Because photographers and videographers are more skill-trade vendors, they are usually tipped at a higher rate, often as much as 15 percent of their total. If not tipping as a percent, I typically see the photographer and videographer tipped anywhere from $300 to $500 and the second shooter is tipped from $50 to $150."
If you didn't plan to give a cash tip but want to thank your photographer or videographer for their hard work, sending a sentimental gift at a later date is a great idea. Wedding planner Sunna Yassin of Bash Please says, "Often times with vendors such as photographers who do a lot of the work post wedding, we advise our couples to actually wait on an immediate monetary gratuity and to send a gift once their photos are received! This allows the photographer time to not only look back and relish in the beauty and memories they helped to create. but to also enjoy something like a pampering massage or a bottle of wine from the location an event take place over the wedding weekend."
Caterer and Waitstaff
Gratuity is required for catering and is often included in your total bill. If not, Gottsman advises to give 15 to 20 percent of the total cost. She adds, "Make sure the manager distributes the gratuity to servers and other staff involved in your event. You could also opt to give it to them personally after the reception."
Bartending services are often included as part of your caterer’s package, and gratuity is frequently included in the bill. If it isn’t, or if you hired your bartender separately, tip $10 to $15 per guest, advises Matthews. If you are tipping your bartenders, make sure to do so at the end of the night and confirm they haven't also accepted tips from your guests.
Hair and Makeup
Like at the salon, tip 20 percent of the service, shares Matthews. You may provide this tip yourself if you’re paying for all of your bridesmaids' services, or include a tip in the total that they each owe so they can make sure to have enough cash on hand. The gratuity should be extended directly after the services have been provided. If this is too stressful amidst the wedding activities, delegate the task to a trusted friend, family member, or the wedding planner or coordinator.
Plan to tip your ceremony musicians as well as your reception band or DJ. If gratuity is not included in your contract with the musicians, tip between $25 and $50 per person, advises Matthews. And don’t forget the band’s sound technician! Musicians should be tipped after their performance or at the end of the event if they're staying until completion. If you have a DJ, you should tip them between $200 and $500.
Chauffeurs or Drivers
Many transportation companies include gratuity on their invoices. If it's not covered within your contract, a tip of 15 to 20 percent of the pre-tax bill is a good range to aim for, says Gottsman. Chauffeurs or drivers are tipped after their services are completed, so this may require delegating the task to a trusted wedding-party member who will be on the last ride.
For staff delivering flowers, chairs, cake, and other necessities, Gottsman recommends tipping $10 to $20 per delivery, depending on the service they provide. She says, "Are they unloading chairs for a few hours or merely dropping off a cake? The effort will determine the tip."
"Ask ahead how the banquet manager, chef, servers, and staff, including bartenders, parking attendants, bathroom attendants, and coat check workers, will be compensated. The venue may include it in their contract," shares Gottsman. "Otherwise, you can tip 15 to 20 percent divided among the individuals who are working. Be sure workers are instructed not to accept tips from guests."
As business owners, florists were not traditionally tipped, but gratuity is now appreciated for their services. "Florists are usually tipped as a percentage of the total," shares Matthews. "I usually see this around the 10 percent (pre-tax), but sometimes people will tip them by the person as well—generally from $50 to $100 per person for all of those that are involved in the setup and tear down."
Wedding planners go above and beyond to make your big day come together, so a tip is greatly appreciated. "We see a wide range of tipping in our category," notes Matthews. "Typically, between $250 to $1,000 depending on the level of service booked. Some may opt to do 15 percent of the total package price." If your wedding planner brought an assistant who did great work, be sure to send over a tip for them as well. Anywhere from $50 to $150 is appropriate for a planner’s assistant, with the higher amounts for one who really went above and beyond the call of duty.
If you have been working with an on-site coordinator, you also should provide them with a tip for all their hard work. Matthews recommends $100 to $200 for a coordinator, along with $25 to $50 for any assistant coordinators.