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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.

gra·tu·i·ty

  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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