Monthly Archives: April 2011

Vendor Tipping: Clearing Up the Gratuity Grey Area

There seems to be some confusion about gratuity when it comes to vendors. Who should you tip and when? First, let’s take a look at the definition of gratuity.


  1. a gift of money, over and above payment due for service.
  2. something given without claim or demand.

Please keep in mind that tipping is something you do to show appreciation for a job well done. Let’s take a look at the standard gratuities for wedding vendors.

I like to work very closely throughout the planning process with the parents of the bride, or the couple themselves if they are the financial support. About two weeks before the wedding, I’ll talk to them about vendor tipping. At that point, if they are comfortable with it, we put the tips in envelopes and mark them for each vendor. Sometimes people like to wait until the rehearsal to do this.

Wedding Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist
You wouldn’t have your hair cut and colored and not tip your stylist would you? Your wedding day is no different. 15-20 percent is the standard tip.

Wedding Delivery and Set-up Staff
The workers delivering your fragile wedding cake, flowers and any other gear needed for your big day should be tipped. $10 per person is standard. I keep cash in my pocket on the wedding day and hand it out to anyone who is helping to make this important event perfect.

Ceremony Officiant
If you’ve hired a nondenominational officiant, no tip is required, but I think it’s nice to give something. In my opinion, a tip doesn’t need to be in the form of cash. How about thanking your officiant in person and after the ceremony sending a beautiful thank-you note? If you know your officiant personally, I think choosing a gift that he or she would like is a great way to express your gratitude. If you’re more comfortable giving cash, then $50 – $100 is the standard.

You should make a donation to a church or synagogue if your officiant is associated with one. In this case, the standard gratuity is $500 or more.

Wedding Ceremony Musicians
A tip for musicians is not required, but if they worked on something original for your wedding, I would definitely give something. $15-$20 is customary and it feels good to support your local musicians.

Wedding Photographer/Videographer
A tip is not expected unless the photographer doesn’t own the studio. In that case, $50-$200 would be appropriate.

Wedding Reception Staff
This type of staff includes the on-site coordinator, maitre d’, and banquet manager and is usually already laid out in a contract. Normally, the gratuity would be built in at around 2%. If gratuity is not built-in, tip as you normally would when going out to dinner (15-20%).

Wedding Reception Attendants
This includes bartenders, wait staff, parking, bathroom and coat room attendants. Again, this would normally be in your contract. The standard is $20-$25 for each wait staff and $1 per guest for coat room and parking.

Wedding Reception Band or DJ
Again, tipping the musicians is optional, but certainly appreciated. As always, gratuity depends on quality. If your DJ decides to follow his own playlist instead of yours, odds are he’s not getting a tip.

Wedding Transportation
Normally gratuity is included in the contract, but don’t forget to check. If not, the standard is 15-20%.

Please keep in mind that the amounts listed here are just a guideline to give you an idea about industry standards. I think a hand-written thank-you note goes a long way in showing your sincere appreciation for a job well done, whether you decide to tip or not. And if you can, take a minute to personally thank each vendor throughout your wedding and reception.

Wedding photography by Imagine Fotographie.

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Elena and Jim: Easter Wedding

I thought this would be the perfect week to share Elena and Jim’s wedding. They were married a year ago on Easter. When I asked Elena why they chose to marry on Easter, she explained that 2011 was a rare convergence of Orthodox and Catholic faith. This is significant as the Gregorian calendar, used to honor Orthodox tradition and religious significance, came into rare alignment. Christmas, as the date is fixed instead of the numbered Sunday, as is the case with Easter, can never be on the same day for the two religions. Orthodox Christmas always falls on 7th of January and Western Christmas is on the 25th of December.

We had an Easter egg hunt in the park prior to the ceremony at Columbia Tower and the adults loved it just as much as the kids. And the fun didn’t end there! We also had a magician mingling with guests during the cocktail hour at the reception.

Elena’s parents presented traditional karavay bread to the bride and groom prior to the ceremony. Doesn’t it look delicious?

Every detail of this wedding at Columbia Tower was stunning, from the emerald green and pink color combination to Elena’s haute couture dress, designed by Sergei Ermakov especially for her.

I’d like to thank all of the vendors who made this beautiful wedding happen:

Erin Skipley, Hair and Make up
Pastor John Green
Jim Garner, J. Garner Photography
Aria Style, flowers and linens
Dale Dunning, Wall Street Clothiers
Bonnie Lyons, New Renaissance Cakes
Cookies and Hot Chocolate in the park, Ravishing Radish Catering
Photo Booth at the Reception, 3.2.1. Photo
Grand Event Rentals
Fairmont Hotel Seattle, all guest sleeping rooms
Columbia Tower, Ceremony and Reception
Parsons Garden, Seattle for the Egg Hunt
Pacific NW Limo Service for all our transportation

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Fitness for Your Wedding: Mind, Body & Soul

It’s time to get in shape for your big day. But physical fitness isn’t the only thing brides should focus on before their wedding. Maintaining balance during one of the most exciting times of your life not only makes you healthier, it makes you more attractive.

Try this great mind exercise: Practice visualizing yourself walking down the aisle, completely calm, gorgeous and SMILING! Notice that everyone watching you is in awe at how radiantly beautiful you are, inside and out.

Meditation is wonderful for quieting the mind and reducing stress. It’s not as hard as you might think. It just takes practice, like everything else.

Getting in shape probably won’t take as long as you think if you’re committed to exercising on a regular basis. Invite your mom, aunts and bridesmaids along to make it more fun. I’ve got some great recommendations for getting in shape fast.

Boolates at Sassy Fit. Boolates combines the non-stop intensity of a boot camp class with the fluid, graceful movements of Pilates. After a warm-up, light band work is incorporated with standing and mat exercises to tone and define your arms, shoulders, legs, and core – without adding bulk. The ballet-inspired cardio bursts and continuous flow of exercises focus on lengthening, stretching, and utilizing the breath. This movement creates a dancer’s physique that you can’t accomplish from straight cardio or weight training workouts.

If you’re looking for a top-notch personal trainer, please give Shannon Gowens a call. She works at the Pro Sports Club in Bellevue and she’s the best I’ve found. Phone:425-869-4757 x7536.  Or you can email her at:

One of the new crazes in fitness right now is called CrossFit. It takes less time, about 20 minutes a day, and people are seeing great results. CrossFit Seattle can help you get in shape, fast.

Have you seen the new reality competition Shedding for the Wedding yet? If you haven’t, you should. It’s really inspiring and a nice, entertaining break from a stressful day. The contestants not only work out to lose weight, but also work to change their eating habits under the supervision of celebrity nutritionist Ashley Koff.

Speaking of nutrition, I’ve seen excellent results with the Weight Watchers program. Right now I have two clients who lost 15 pounds each! Jennifer Hudson is their new spokesperson and she looks amazing!

Don’t forget to do the things you love. Whether it’s painting, gardening, reading or people watching, do not neglect what you’re drawn to. Doing what you love makes you happy and happiness is beautiful. Are you thinking you don’t have time? That’s one more reason to hire a wedding planner. You deserve to sit back and really enjoy this process.

Maybe you’ve forgotten that you used to love playing tennis? Think about the physical activities or sports you loved as a kid and try them again. It’s much easier to get into shape when you’re having fun!

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Plan Your Wedding Day In Style

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