Now that we're only a few days away from hopping a plane for Mexico, we're in the process of figuring out which vendors we need to tip once we get there, and how much each vendor should receive. This part is beyond confusing (and honestly, just a tad bit heartbreaking, given how expensive weddings already are), but definitely necessary, of course. However, I'm a big believer that tips are earned. My husband and I generally tip well, but if someone doesn't do their job, I don't feel obligated to tip. The tipping guidelines below are referring to vendors who provide all of the services that were promised, in the way that they were promised. Just as you would tip a vendor more if he/she goes above and beyond to make your day special, you can also tip a vendor less if you don't think that he/she did a good job. Don't ever feel like you have to tip a bad waiter!
First off, here are the wedding vendors that do not typically expect a tip:
- Wedding stationer
- Bridal shop
- Seamstress for alterations
- Tux shop
- Cake baker
- Travel agent for honeymoon
For each of the guidelines below, keep in mind that all tips should be given in cash. Vendors also love thank you cards! Be sure to take the time to write them, and plan on distributing them along with the gratuities.
You don't have to tip the owner of a business, unless he/she has gone above and beyond the call of duty.
Be sure to slip at least a few bucks to anyone who delivers a product or item to your wedding venue.
Generally, tipping any one person anything over $250 is unnecessary, and even that is generous and typically left to larger, more grandeur weddings.
Tips should be given just before your vendor leaves. That way you can judge how much to give, according to the job they did for you.
Suggested Tips for Wedding Vendors
Bartenders - Oftentimes, services fees and tips are included in your contract, so be sure to check what you signed before tipping. You should also instruct your maitre d' that guests should not be solicited for tips during your event. If no fee is included in your contract already, consider tipping $20 to $25 per bartender, or 10 percent of the total liquor bill, and give it to the head bartender to be divided equally among his or her staff.
Makeup Artist and/or Hair Stylists - Tip as you would your regular hair stylist or colorists. 15 to 25 percent of your total bill is standard, which should be distributed immediately following the service.
Ceremony or Reception Musicians - Tipping your musicians or DJ is preferred, but not required. The standard tip amount depends on the musician - a singer should receive between $25 and $75. Each member of a band should receive between $5 and $10 per hour, and a DJ can receive anything between $25 and $75.
Photographer and Videographer - If the photographer/videographer owns his own company, then you can assume that he/she will be keeping most, if not all of your total package fee, and the tip becomes optional. If he/she is an employee of a company, then plan on tipping between $50 and $100, depending on the amount of time spent.
Officiant - I've seen differing opinions on this one, so honestly, I would just use your best judgement. The "rules" are if your officiant is affiliated with a church or synagogue, you should plan on making a donation to that institution. This donation should be at least $100. If you're a member of the church, you'll want to give a larger amount than if you're not. If you have hired a nondenominational officiant, no tip is required because they will charge you for their time, however, if you so choose, $40 or $50 is usually appropriate. Plan on handing your officient a tip at the rehearsal dinner, if he/she attends, and if not, the Best Man should plan on tipping the officient immediately following the ceremony.
Florist - As mentioned above, you don't need to tip the florist for making your arrangements, but you can tip those who make any deliveries about $5 to $10 each, depending on how much work they do upon drop off.
Wedding Day Transportation - 20% of the total cost is customary for a tip, unless the bill is thousands of dollars, then just use your best judgement.
Catering Staff - First, check to see if your contract already includes a gratuity. If not, plan on tipping all of the staff members - remember that the wait staff is usually one of the most hard working of vendors on your wedding day! You may choose to give the banquet manager about 15-20% of your total bill, to be distributed to the rest of his/her staff. If you so choose, you can pay the tip in advance to the director of the catering company, or you can distribute it to the banquet manager toward the end of the evening in an envelope.
Your Wedding Coordinator - Again, if this vendor owns his/her own company, then the tip is optional. If he/she is an employee, such as a coordinator assigned to you by the venue, $50.00 to $100.00 is a safe bet. But remember, if your coordinator put in a lot of hours for your larger, more extravagant affair, the tip should be higher, depending on the total wedding budget.
Update as of June 12, 2012 - I have received a few comments from readers strongly disagreeing with my original advice on how much to tip the bar and waitstaff at a wedding. As I'm sure you know, tipping is a very subjective matter, but according to the reputable wedding source, The Knot, please consider tipping 15 to 20 percent of the food and drink fee (based on labor, not total cost), or between $200 and $300 to the maitre d' to divide among his/her staff.
Image by Brides.com.