Take a moment to think about the following:
In the past year of your engagement, you’ve likely spent, on average, two to three hours meeting with each vendor hired for your wedding day. Maybe you spent an hour and a half to two hours at the initial meeting and an hour at any follow up meetings, and that’s just for the services that are pretty decision-free. For example, as planners, we typically end up spending 15+ hours meeting face-to-face with our full package couples and a couple hundred hours answering e-mails, phone calls, and planning and designing the actual wedding. Similarly, florists can end up spending multiple hours discussing options with couples and pouring over floral and decor choices for your big day. Not to mention, all of these vendors attend your wedding day and make sure everything goes off without a hitch. They make sure the food tastes great, the pictures are perfect, and everyone is on the dance floor the entire night. It is for these reasons that, as planners, we always recommend (and like to share with you how!) to tip your vendors. Yes, they are getting paid for their services and adding gratuity on top of your ever growing budget can be stressful, but an extra thank you at the end of the night is so appreciated. It says, “We really loved your services and are so grateful that you helped make one of the most important days of our lives amazing!” Not surprisingly, gratuity concerns happen to be one of the most popular questions we get asked from our couples and it can be tricky, especially for those getting married for the first time. Do you tip what you’d tip at a restaurant or is it different because it’s the wedding industry? No worries – we’re here to help!
Something super important to remember when it comes to gratuity: some vendors already have this listed in their contract as a part of your bill! Be sure to check this carefully with your own vendors, as we’d hate for you to overpay (save that money for the honeymoon!) or not tip where a tip should be given. Here’s a list of vendors who typically have gratuity included in your invoice:
While we’ve seen both scenarios – caterers who include gratuity in the final bill and those who don’t, we urge you to read your contracts carefully. Some caterers will specifically state that they will not accept tips, while others might expect something for a job well done. Bartenders may be included in this if you’re hiring them through your caterer, but be sure to check!
While this is almost always included in your bill, double check. We know you’d feel awful if you didn’t offer a token to the driver who made sure to get your guests, including your Uncle Ed who had one too many and insisted on carrying on with the party in the limo bus, back to the hotel safely.
Okay, this is a tricky one. While most florists do not include gratuity in your bill, they are often over looked when it comes to passing out tips at the end of the night because by then they are long gone. A good rule of thumb is this: if you feel your florist has gone above and beyond (read: they strung 200 peonies from the arbor at your ceremony), send them home with something to show your appreciation. Thank you notes and professional pictures from your wedding showing their work are always a way to impress!
While there are some vendors who do not expect gratuity or include it into your invoice, there are others who should be tipped accordingly.
An officiant may not expect a tip, but adding an extra $50-$100 on top of the paid services is a very nice gesture. After all, if it weren’t for them, you wouldn’t be married! If you’re getting married in a church, making a donation to the church is often expected and a great way to show your appreciation.
The Band or the DJ
If we’re being honest, the band and/or the DJ can seriously make or break an evening. If the band you’ve hired has seriously knocked it out of the park, $20-25 per musician is totally appropriate. For a DJ who keeps the dance floor packed and hits the nail on the head when it comes to your playlist, $50-$150 is a really nice way of saying thank you.
Hair Stylists and Makeup Artists
Okay, these people are pretty important. They make you look your best on your wedding day. Because of this, it is very commonplace to tip these individuals. That being said, you don’t have to go crazy with tipping. If you’re getting your hair done at the salon, your typical 15-20% that you’d pay for a normal haircut is fine. This also applies if the stylists are coming to your venue.
Photographers and videographers are such a huge part of your day – the images they capture will be with you even longer than the memories of your big day. While they often don’t expect gratuity, we recommend giving these shutterbugs a token of your appreciation. A thank you note filled with anywhere from $50-$200 depending on the quality of service is okay in our book. Don’t forget about his/her assistants, too! They likely do not own the company, yet they are putting in just as much work as your main shooters on the day of.
This includes anyone delivering and helping to set up your ceremony and reception spaces. We’re talking tables, chairs, draping, lighting, etc. – the stuff that makes your space look awesome! While you likely won’t see them once your day is underway, slipping them $5-$10 is a nice gesture to show how grateful you are that you didn’t have to deliver and assemble the 100 x 40 tent.
This may seem a bit odd coming from us, but let’s just be real and not let this get awkward. Like we mentioned above, wedding planners and stylists spend countless hours working on your wedding, whether it be designing the perfect table scape, attending stationary and floral meetings with you, and doing a walk through at your venue. Oh and let’s not forget to mention the fact that they are a huge reason your big day goes off without a hitch (and the reason you have no idea a hitch even happened). Gratuity is never expected, however, anywhere from $50 to $500.00 (depending on the amount of work your planner put in) or a non-monetary gift (including a lovely little thank you note!) can really show your planner how thankful you are for her help.
Okay, there you have it. A few tips on tipping. It can’t all be cookie-cutter and it really is going to depend on your vendors, your contracts, and your big day, but we hope we’re at least able to calm a few of your nerves when it comes to handling gratuity. Budget it in from the beginning to help it feel less shocking as you get closer to the big day and your purse strings get tighter. We promise, it’ll be worth it!