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Tipping Wedding Vendors on Your Big Day Sunday, January 30, 2011 ~ 8:17 a.m.

Wedding day tipping, how much to tip your wedding vendors
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
  • Jeweler
  • Cake baker
  • Florist
  • 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.

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    Insert Comment | View Comments (65)




Tina Nichols (West Virginia)

Jun 11, 2012 12:45 PM

Just FYI...people who own their own business (ie photographers) actually pocket very little if any of the fee you pay them. Combine product cost, equipment expense, insurance, cost of nice clothes to wear at your wedding, editing software, continuing education, marketing etc.... a business owner actually makes less that someone who works for someone else, plus they work a lot harder. So you may want to rethink the theory of assuming that because someone owns a business it makes them rich. It's is quite the opposite.

Elaine (TN)

Jun 12, 2012 11:57 AM

re: business owners
THe assumption is not whether they are rich or not. The assumption is that they are the ones who are setting their price, so it should already cover their equipment cost, business overhead (insurance, marketing, etc) and the myriad other costs that are incurred for them to go into business, let alone the costs that are incurred to do that individual "job". Any business owner that can't calculate the price of being a business owner, doesn't stay in business very long.
And people flock to becoming a business owner because they want to control their own earnings, or their own hours, or a myriad of other reasons. Those are all things that are not the client's responsibility to anticipate.

netter528 (Florida)

Jun 12, 2012 2:11 PM

It is always standard practice that the owner of the business, what ever business, is not tipped. When you go to the salon and your stylist is the person that provides you the services you do not need to tip him/her. As the other comment states that is due to the fact that they are the owner and receive a percentage of all others work.

mindy (MI)

Jun 12, 2012 8:39 PM

As a Pastors spouse, I speak to experience. Weddings do take a lot of time. It isn't just showing up for twenty minutes to read vows out of a book. And do take to heart, that without them, you wouldn't be married. If you go through a congregation, there will be premarital counseling for at least three hours of time. Typically scheduled in the evening for convenience which adds to the evenings away for that week. There is also service planning and rehearsal and if there isn't a coordinator, then they fill those shoes too. I know a wedding is a lot to think about, especially with florists and high priced food, just don't leave your Officiant in the dust. Inviting them and their guest to the reception but remember their reward isn't a party. There have been several hours invested by all, including their families.

Erin (Reno, NV)

Jun 19, 2012 2:06 AM

This is great! I am wondering, though, what do you do with your coordinator that is contracted through the venue you're using that includes gratuity in your contract?

Did that make sense? : )

Natalie (Atlanta)

Jun 19, 2012 7:59 AM

I'm getting married at an all inclusive venue. They are doing everything : ceremoney & rececption including set-up/take-down, flowers, decorations, food, cake, dj, photographer, bartenders, (I am bringing in my own alcohol.) I only make my payments to the venue so, who and what should I tip? NEED ADVICE PLEASE!

Sarah {A Paper Proposal} (Denver, CO)

Jun 19, 2012 8:51 AM

Thanks for your comments, Erin and Natalie! I thought that I could answer your questions together. I was actually in a similar situation to both of you when I was married at an all-inclusive destination wedding venue about a year and a half ago. I had planned most of the details beforehand, but my venue coordinator handled executing pretty much everything the day-of. I chose to tip my coordinator an extra $50 because I thought she did a great job. I've also heard that at all-inclusives, in particular, the included gratuities in your final bill rarely make their way to the actual staff, so keep that in mind. I also only had 25 guests at my wedding though, and I think that if I had a larger wedding, the tip would have been larger, as well.

As for the rest of the vendors you work with for your wedding, Natalie, I would encourage you to tip them according to the same rules I've laid out in the blog post above. We tipped our photographer, bartending/serving staff, officiant ($20), floral delivery ($20), DJ ($40), makeup and hair stylists. If I didn't specify the amount, it's because I followed the rules I laid out in the blog post above.

The bartending/serving staff was probably the toughest for us to figure out, given the all-inclusive package. However, my husband and I noticed on our wedding day that we were given a small staff of about 6 people - they took care of us all night and did a great job. So we figured we wanted each server/bartender to get about $40 each.

All in all though, tipping is very subjective. I would say follow the guidelines above as a minimum of sorts, but don't be afraid to deviate from the rules and use your best judgement the day-of. Tip your coordinator a minimum of $50, but if they work hard, give him/her more than that. Especially when the vendor's amount of work is dependent on the size and level of detail required to execute your wedding - like the coordinator and the bartenders/serving staff.

I hope that helps you both! :)

Joy (Maine)

Jun 20, 2012 2:22 PM

I'm not sure if the portion about tipping musicians is worded right. You mentioned different prices for tipping a singer and the rest of the band. If you're talking about tipping a singer who is just singing and a one-piece-band, then that makes sense. If you're talking about a band or 3 or more and you're tipping the singer more than the rest of musicians you're not right on that one. If there is a band then all of the musicians should be tipped equally. You'd give the tip to the head/contact person in the band and let them split the tips.
I'm assuming you meant that if there is JUST one singer and no band then they get a certain amount and then a band with multiple members all get tipped evenly, including the person singing.

Katrina (Washington State)

Jun 20, 2012 6:30 PM

I don't think it should matter whether or not if someone is a business owner. Tipping is customary no matter where you go. Just because someone owns the business doesnt mean they havent put in hard work or didnt go the extra mile to make your day (or service) special. Especially in the case of photographers and hair/makeup. They pay for their own supplies, and part of their overhead charge you are paying is going to their supplies. As a cosmetologist I would know. The cost of our supplies are expensive. We put in prep-time to get the kits ready before each event, and then we have to clean, reorganize, and restock for the next event. Not to mention the hours it takes to provide the service. Usually makeup artists who do weddings are freelance. They pay for EVERYTHING on their own. A tip is always appreciated.

Shannon (New Jersey)

Jun 20, 2012 8:56 PM

"And do take to heart, that without them, you wouldn't be married."
Actually, you're married when you sign the marriage license...not when the vows are read.

I have always been told you do not tip the owner or the business as they are the sole proprietor. But again, I think it’s a judgment call. I think it’s hard to place rules on tipping since everyone views it differently. I think these are good guidelines though…and as a bride-to-be I appreciate the advice! Thank you!

Dani (Seattle)

Jun 21, 2012 1:13 PM

As a wedding coordinator, I own my own business. I have always gotten a tip at the end of a wedding. I have never told my clients about owning their own business and not tipping. If I needed to hire an assistant, I would be paying them hours out of whatever wedding package the couple hired me for. NOT getting commission from them as I would be working with them (they would be ASSISTING me) and doing all the work before hand (floorplans, timelines, coordinating).

From experience with other vendors, usually Photographer, DJ/Band, Officiant, Hair/Make-up, and Transportation get tipped. Catering automatically includes 18-20% gratuity in their final invoice and the venue might too depending on if you use in house catering.

Rebecca (New York)

Jun 28, 2012 4:07 AM

First off, I think this list was great. I'm always looking for lists like this because tipping appropriately is important to me, and when you're in a situation that you've never been in before, it can sometimes be difficult to tell what's appropriate or expected.

However, I was really upset by your comments regarding tipping waiters in the final sentence of your introduction. Unless a waiter/server is downright rude to you or tampers with your food, you need to tip. They are getting paid somewhere between $3.50 and $5.00 an hour while working at a job that is exhausting, physically and emotionally. You DO have to tip a waiter. It's great that you are moved to tip "well" for "exceptional" service, but you shouldn't feel like it is appropriate to leave nothing. It's respecting the fact that the "minimum wage" for the restaurant service industry is set below the standard living wage because patrons ARE SUPPOSE TO TIP. Period. So unless you can say that you are 100% perky and pleasant to every single person that you interact with during your work day, 100% of the time, I think you should forgive someone for slipping and not tripping over themselves to go above and beyond the call of duty for you while waiting on you. You have no idea the shear amount of rudeness that waiters have to deal with, in many situations, through no fault of their own, but just because patrons come in in bad moods, or with unruly children, or while fighting with spouses, etc. Like all service industry jobs, not all customer complaints are going to be reasonable, and there are sometimes going to be very unpleasant people to deal with (just like there are going to be people that make your day because they are especially appreciative, forgiving, or generally pleasant); however, unlike most jobs, waiters are given sub-standard wages. When the cook, plate server, or host messes up, who gets blamed? The waiter. And it's the waiter's pay that suffers when people feel that they don't have to tip for "bad" service, meanwhile the cook, plate server, and host are most likely getting paid wages at the standard state minimum wage or higher. I hope you that you consider such things when making your list of how to tip people who have helped you pull off one of the most memorable days of your life.

lori (ca)

Jun 30, 2012 5:34 PM

I also have to completely disagree on "they're owners so they don't get tipped" thing. My hair dresser owns his own salon, and I still tip him NICELY. If he makes me wait a ridiculous amount of time (which he sometimes does), I tip him a bit less, but even then I still tip him to express my gratitude and appreciation and thank him for his artistry. I realize his fee for haircuts is because that is the amount he needs to charge to cover his costs and time. Going above and beyond is always appreciated, and if it's happened, a tip should be OBVIOUS.

Lyla Rose (Austin, Tx)

Jul 9, 2012 6:14 PM

I work in the service industry, and speaking from experience(I have waited, cooked for, bar tended, etc for weddings) ALWAYS tip your waitstaff- ALWAYS. The waitstaff, and bartender are the ones who are carrying those chairs from the lawn to the reception hall, they are the ones there FOUR HOURS before the wedding even starts setting up tables, ironing linens, setting tables and mats and plating food, buffing silverware, counting glasses, filling drink containers, running errands, plus they do the ENTIRE clean up after- which tacks on another 3 hours... the list goes on and on and on. a wedding and reception that is a total of 4 hours long will have the crew working at least 8 if not 10-12 hours. I can never work my regular job the day after working a wedding because it is so physically exhausting.
Keep this in mind when you're thinking about tipping the people who are working your wedding--- the wait/service staff i guarantee are working the hardest, the fastest and the most efficiently. A nice catering/staffing company will pay their employees between $10-$15/hour but if you worked that hard for ten hours you'd want more than $150, right?

Brittney (San Diego)

Jul 18, 2012 1:31 PM

You're supposed to tip the catering company 15-20% of the entire bill?? So with my $8,000 catering bill, I'm supposed to tip them $1,600? Really?? Yikes.

BFTlady (Hilton Head Island, SC)

Jul 19, 2012 11:43 AM

Regarding the question as to whether or not the waitstaff or bartenders ought to be tipped, I can tell you that as the event director for a private club, you can always ask the onsite coordinator what is appropriate. For our venue, the waiters have a higher than normal wage because they work for the country club (versus the standard rate of a restaurant or some catering companies). Plus, the required service charge on all food and beverage goes towards their paychecks as well.

For our club, I tell my brides they do not have to tip the staff, BUT many do tip an exceptional bartender or the attentive waitstaff separately (or their parents do). This may be very different if you are at a venue that will require an outside catering staff, or if held at a venue with different service charge policies. In either case, don't be afraid to ask someone!

Along those same lines, please consider that if you do not have a contracted wedding planner and are relying on the onsite coordinator alone for the planning and execution, a tip or a small gift is very much appreciated. It doesn't have to be cash; one of my favorite gifts from a bride was a Coach portfolio that I use to hold my timeline and details for every wedding. I think of her every time I use it!

Nicole (Chicago, IL)

Jul 19, 2012 8:58 PM

I'm a photographer. I work for a studio and also for myself. I agree as far as when I work for myself not being tipped. When I work for a studio I only make a small amount. What's sad it the bartenders getting tipped each time they make a drink. I think sometimes people forget that Photographers and Videographers are with the couple the longest. We are there, for the most part, from start to finish. That isn't including the time we spend in the car getting there and the 2-3 days we spend going through the photos editing. Not to mention the hours of editing a Videographer goes through post-wedding. Yet we are on the same tipping plane as those that spend an hour or two. I see the Limo driver get tipped and majority of the time I don't. Let me tell people are the worst tippers if they tip at all. It's those that live modestly that tip me most often.

Brandy (Virginia)

Jul 31, 2012 12:27 PM

Thank you for making this list. I'm sure I'll use this info when my wedding day gets closer. But I have to agree with Rebecca from New York about your opening statement. I get very offended when someone does not tip their server. If your waiter is that bad, let the manager know, but you should still tip them. They work hard and sometimes the reason you had a bad experience isn't even their fault.

Jamie (NYC)

Aug 15, 2012 2:00 PM

As a server in a fine dining restaurant, I just wanted to say something about tipping the servers and waitstaff...
The tip should be off the TOTAL bill. So yes, if your food and beverage cost is $8000, and you want to tip 18%, your tip is $1440. That gets distributed amongst us all. You have no idea how many people that money goes to. Who you see vs who's doing the work is very different. You see the cocktail server, the main waitstaff and the bartenders. Who you DONT see are the food runners, the bussers and the barista. The food gets run from the kitchen to the dining hall, then handed off to the servers who will bring the food to you. The set up and clean up is done by all of us. Table clothes put on exactly right... lined up, and all silverware polished and set precisely. Thats us... not your wedding planner, not your maid of honor, not you. Us. For a 5pm wedding, I'm at the location at 10am setting up. Last time I worked a wedding, the linen was wrinkled...we spent an hour ironing everything. Yes complaining to the linen company and getting a refund makes sense, but what are you going to do the day of? you FIX it. We set up the tables according to how you want it, down to the last detailed flower petal. You as guests only see the servers, with no idea that in the back? And waiting for you to leave? Is a team DOUBLED in size waiting to swoop in and clean up after you. For example, real life, we had a wedding a few months ago. The gratuity was $5000 for the waitstaff. After tipping out 6 servers, 2 bartenders 3 runners and 6 server assistants, I walked with $200. Thats it. For working from 10am-8pm. Thats about $20 an hour. Before tax. Not a lot for all the work we did to make your day perfect.
So think twice before you think we "dont do much" for your day, and we just "serve food".

Camilla Senteneri-Bricker (Jersey Shore)

Aug 25, 2012 4:34 PM

I was recently married on Friday the 13th in July. I was a floral designer for over 15 years and did flowers for 100"s of weddings. I did recieve some lovely gifts as appreciation for a job well done but never actual cash,so when i was getting married I felt that all my vendors would recieve extra if they went above and beyond....Guess what...i am glad my husband brought along extra $100 bills....We tipped our Dj ( absolutely fabulous, non stop dancing)our photographer ( was accomodating and unobtrusive) our two Bartenders (Service was top notch)the captain ( she was hands down the reason our wedding was incredible0 and each one of our 5 servers....and this was over and above any tips that were included in our Country Club rate per head....Also, of course I took care of my stylist for all my girls and myself ( thats a given) and Our three limo drivers were well compensated over rate.....
Our theory is you take care of those who take care of you....Oh and my budding "Cake Boss" ...I was her first wedding cake and she nailed it!! Stunning four stacked, four flavor, beach theme wedding cake...put an extra $100. in for her....

Laura (PA)

Aug 31, 2012 6:40 PM

Don't forget to tip your head table server. Even if it says that your tip is included in your catering cost (this usually means that the wait staff makes a little more than the average server), the head table server generally does not make any more than regular servers despite their experience and extra responsibilities. If they are attentive and make sure that everything is taken care of, think of tipping them anywhere from 25-100 depending on the type of venue, event, etc.

kristen (Minnesota)

Sep 5, 2012 7:39 PM

I work in the wedding industry as well as a bartender and server and I wanted to say--RELAX, people! Every place really is different which is why it is important to READ your contract and ASK QUESTIONS with your coordinator/chef/etc. Then when it comes to the question of "should I tip?" you can figure out where the service fee or gratuity you're paying is going. At my company there is an asterisk on the contract with a tiny-font disclaimer that says the 18% service fee is not a direct gratuity to individual persons on the day of, aka: it's just another collection by the company! Other places doe it differently and everyone gets a cut of that fee (commonly called tip-share!) Sometimes service gratuities are built into wages, many places that do special events and weddings have BANQUET servers and bartenders--this is different from normal restaurant waitstaff--and they are paid a higher amount per hour than minimum wage. I don't think any of the coordinators would deceive a couple who asked where the gratuity went and what is common practice when tipping.
We don't see a lot of tips for service (apart from the bartenders) at my venue but I can tell you this much--when we DO get tipped it is GREATLY appreciated, whether it's $20 a person or $100. We always sign a thank you card for the generous couple and as most of the service staff are college students, that extra, unexpected, cash can make your entire weekend!

Hanna Bowes (Harrisonville, Missouri)

Sep 6, 2012 11:19 AM

Thank you Tina. I was going to say the exact same thing after reading this blog. I've shot 7 weddings this summer haven't even been able to pay myself yet. It's very expensive to run your own business, especially getting off the ground the first couple of years.

Lizzy (California)

Sep 21, 2012 12:51 AM

Thought I could contribute to this great thread of comments and the original post.
As a previous server and a current wedding cake delivery person, I just have to say that EVERYONE appreciates a tip. While never expected, tips are always graciously accepted.
You wouldn't believe how far a $5 bill to a $20 bill will go! It is very rare to receive a tip when delivering, but it really makes my day. Especially after carrying in a VIP aspect of the wedding (and also working with the bride for months to design a dream wedding cake). I think if there is clear effort and care dedicated to a service, a tip is amazing!

Kerri (Indiana)

Sep 25, 2012 2:03 PM

I am actually a wedding photographer. So here is my opinion on tips, granted while always appreciated I keep my costs low compared to a lot of photographers ($800 for 6hrs of service to cover all main events of receptions, ie: first dance, cake cutting, toasts) But if your event runs over, a perfect example was my last wedding we started at 1 and they didn't even cut the cake until 11pm. Obviously then I have to inform them that they ran over the time limit etc which I hate doing and ask for more money. Also many times I am more than photographer, extra bobby pins straighting or pinning flowers on the guys noticing errors or imperfections helping direct people. If I work my 6 hours and get to be photographer then I am fine with no tip, but if your event "takes advantage" of a sitution (ie: the above example) or your photgrapher goes above and beyond the job (we go to a lot of weddings and know a lot of extra tricks), extra money is great then maybe they won't have to approach you for those extra hours. Keep in mind that as well!! Plus it tells me you were happy with me that day and I did go above and beyond.

Kay (alabama)

Sep 29, 2012 8:35 PM

Please re-write your comments about "tipping" the officiant. There are actually only 3 people needed for any wedding, no matter how elaborate or how simple the ceremony: the bride, the groom, and the officiant. It would simply be a 'nice gesture' to make a donation to his/her church or synagogue but this perfuctory "tip to the church" would not allow the 'officiant" to ever be compensted for his/her time (planning, traveling, and performing the ceremony), his/her gas, nor the several hours of counseling that is often done for the engaged couple. Though the term tipping is common, "tipping" an officiant is a lot like "tipping" a professional counselor, or tipping a person that is, by law, required to perform a ceremony. A better term would be gifting them with an "honorarium".

Also, to see the needed "officiant" so far down that list of wedding vendors was, well, a bit demeaning.
Oh, by the way, affluent people oftentimes seem to gift less (0 - $50) while the couples that are scraping by have gifted more ($200-300). Officiants are seldom insulted by this extreme scale but are grateful that their services are noted and valued.

Lr (Idaho)

Oct 7, 2012 9:25 PM

The tipping topic is an important one. For a couple of years worked as a volunteer at wedding receptions at our church. Three or four of us would set up the reception hall (tables, chairs, decorations); prepare the serving area, make punch coffee and other drinks, set out food, serve, and then clean up. A few time we even ran errands for the bride or groom. Often we would spend six or more hours working......very hard. 99% of the weddings were not those of members of our congregation. We were rarely thanked for our hard work, let alone tipped.

I am glad you are addressing this. My opinion is that if someone helps you to make your day special and worry-free, absolutely show your appreciation, these people are treasures.

Sam (New York)

Oct 8, 2012 8:42 PM

Someone that I don't believe was mentioned was the bridal attendant. I'm sure it is different in all catering halls, but the bridal attendant is one of the hardest workers. I work at a pretty fancy catering hall on long island and I am a bridal attendant. It can be a very exhausting job having to run drinks after drinks and on top of being the bridal attendant, I will also have the same amount of tables to serve as the rest of our staff. Half of the time I do not get tipped and the other half i do. It can range any where from $50 to $300. Even if you give her $20 I am sure she will appreciate it rather than getting nothing. It amazes that a bride and groom could consider not even tipping the bridal attendant because they are pretty much your second hand man. So if at your wedding you have a bridal attendant, please consider tipping them. It will mean more to them than you realize.

Jessica (Tulsa, OK)

Oct 9, 2012 11:36 AM

I am a wedding coordinator through a venue that supplys all food and beverage. We add on a service charge to the food and beverage but the staff, including myself, doesn't see it. Staff is paid hourly and I am paid salary. Weddings take a lot of time prepping before and the day of. I offer to pick up linens, set-up centerpieces, and place any favors, etc. I don't get paid extra for any of that, and most venues do not even offer to help! If you recognize that your venue provides a coordinator that is going above and beyond for you, then make sure to take care of them separately.

Scott (Minnesota)

Oct 21, 2012 10:39 AM

Never forget the DJ. They are running the night from the first dance to the end.
If the DJ is his own business, since he gets the entire payment anyway, there is no real need to tip.
However, if you get a DJ from a company that employs several, it's a good idea to tip. Do it on a sliding scale. Start with a bankroll that you would like to tip them but feel free to pull off money if they aren't doing as well as you think. But at least attempt $10 or $20 at the end.
The DJ spends at least 4 hours playing your music and taking requests from your guests, many of whom can be severely intoxicated and a bit rough to deal with for the night. Many DJs bend over backwards to make the night fun and will do anything you ask them to do. Keeping a bankroll around is a good idea.
The DJ is providing a service, not any different than your photographer or caterer. But you do not need to tip $200 to a DJ. between $20 and $100 is fair.

Brandi (Northeast Ohio)

Oct 31, 2012 6:56 PM

it is actually good business practice to NOT tip the proprietor of an establishment. absolutely tip any individuals that work for them, though.

Courtney (Tampa)

Nov 1, 2012 12:30 AM

I'm sorry but I've worked in service jobs, i've never made 20$ an hour..
Talk about hoity toity. I've had waitstaff who treated me like crap because of their bitterness from being the for two whole hours. I constantly get told, be thankful you're working. I never tip under 18% unless everything sucked. I've left 125% tips (small check amount but the people/food were great!) I do find people who have been well off their entire lives don't understand the labor and don't care, that doesn't mean you shouldn't.
Any how I digress, I will save these tips for later, thank you.

Lisa (Chicago)

Nov 14, 2012 4:18 PM

How in the world is it considered "good business practice" to not show your gratitude to someone by tipping them? To me, it would be the exact opposite. If you want to be known as someone who appreciates those with whom you do business, you should give a tip. I don't care who signs someone's paycheck - they're still giving their time to be at my wedding and provide a service. They're not at home with their families, relaxing, like I'm sure they'd rather be. No, they're with me, making sure my big day is nothing short of amazing. Yeah... I think that deserves a tip.

I'm also interested in how you figure out tips when you have a complete wedding package - which includes officiant, flowers, ceremony musicians, transportation, hair, makeup, etc. I asked the coordinator and all he said was "20% is customary." But 20% of WHAT? It's a destination wedding and I'm not familiar with pricing in that area, so how am I supposed to figure out what 20% of the average cost of a makeup artist is? Just wing it?

And for the coordinators out there - when brides as you for numbers/amounts like this, please give us an amount. We don't want to end up stiffing someone out of a well-deserved tip, but we can't tip if we don't know how much the service costs.

becky (minnnesota)

Nov 16, 2012 7:40 PM

Wow - people need to chill out about all of this. I'm also one that has worked in the service industry and trust me, I've had my fair share of walk-outs or no tips {my favorite is the "don't fall asleep with gum in your mouth" tip} so I know the frustration. However, I do think that tips are supposed to be above and beyond what you pay and should be based on the quality of service otherwise, all places should just tack on an extra 20% to your bill and just let that be that.

Keep in mind - the price you pay for things most of the time include the cost of service provided. What I mean is, if you go to a restaurant and order a $40 steak dinner - you know that meal did not actually cost $40 to make. It probably really cost $15 and the remaining $25 covers the actual restaurant, the chef making the food, the wait staff and service, and everything else that goes into you eating at the restaurant. That said, if you thought that you received service and value above and beyond that - you should tip. I'm sorry, if my steak arrived cold and I saw the server chatting it up with the bartender, I do not think that it deserves a $8 tip.

If you don't like working in the service industry - find a different job and quit complaining. By the way, to the person working a wedding making $20/hr - I cannot believe you are complaining about that. That is a lot of money all things considered.

Lindsay (PA, United States)

Dec 6, 2012 7:20 AM

I own a wedding photography business. Regarding tips, yeah, it's great to get them and always incredibly appreciated but I 100% agree with the post: I don't expect to be tipped. I put a lot of time into every one of my clients and have a ton of expenses but I run my business well. This means that I do make money on weddings. If you're a business owner and you're charging so little that you expect/need tips, you need to re-evaluate your business model.

Sarah (Ohio)

Jan 9, 2013 12:45 PM

As someone who works events from time to time I would like to note that if you have someone who is at the venue (like your reception hall) and is there to troubleshoot any problems you may have (AV, etc.) it is a polite gesture to tip them, or at the very least feed them. They have to sit there as long as you do and if you get to eat then why make them starve? Often they are discouraged from ordering food or bringing their own as it may appear unprofessional.

Jodie (United States)

Jan 21, 2013 7:53 PM

Dont forget to tip your photobooth attendants or anyone who is there for your entire event!

Liz (NH)

Jan 22, 2013 10:29 PM

I've been a venue events coordinator at two difefrent places. I very rarely clients tipping anyone. The fancier weddings (the clients spending 50-60k on the wedding already - tips must just be a drop in the bucket I guess) are usually the only ones who hand out tips. Definitely check with the venue. I worked at a non-profit who wouldn't let us keep the tips as they saw it as a donation to the property. It's true, your venue/catering company does most of the heavy work (moving chairs and great boxes of food/drinks, working in hot weather, and putting in 10+ days). After you work one weding, you understand why they're so expensive! I know I never knew that many people were working to make my day perfect. If you add all the workers, we're talking 20+ or more individuals working just for you. Of course that gets tricky when tipping (and why gratuities are usually included). It's appreciated when you get a tip, thank you, or gift for going above and beyond. Just ask yourself - would I have done this for a client/stranger in the same role? Did he/she have to put in extra hours or come in early or stay late to meet a desire/need? Did they do more work then they were contracted for (for example, my photographers stayed almost 2 hours beyond our 6 hour package)? As an events coordinator, often stretched my hours so that brides could drop off items before the wedding and not be stressed-out the day-of.

Victoria (Michigan)

Jan 28, 2013 7:31 PM

I, like Natalie, have an all inclusive contract and 18% gratuity is already added... so I shouldn't be subject to tipping on top of that also,correct?

Sarah {A Paper Proposal} (Denver, CO)

Jan 28, 2013 7:46 PM

Hi Victoria, if a tip is already included in your total, I wouldn't worry about tipping all of the professionals that I have listed here. However, if it were me, I would still plan on having some cash on hand to tip those around you who go above and beyond the call of duty to take care of you and your guests.

Alicia (West Virginia)

Feb 17, 2013 8:35 PM

I'm going to have to say that only tipping the bartender 10% is definitely not standard. These are the people that deal the most with the majority of your guests & though most people think bartending is simple, it's quite the opposite.

Sandra (Missouri)

Feb 25, 2013 8:10 PM

I got married in 1984 and at that time, it was recommended to give your officiant between $50 and $200. Could it really be less now??

My husband is a pastor and he generally invests a lot of time in meeting with couples to plan their ceremonies. On top of that is 2 hours times 6 weeks of premarital counseling...then the rehearsal, which is an hour, the ceremony, getting a new tie to blend in with the wedding party, etc. I am often invited to a bridal shower as I have gotten to know the couple through the process, so I buy a you see where I am going with this?

PLEASE do not give to the church donation box- give to the person who has invested much time and prayer and thought to YOU and your special day. The officiant is usually not a wealthy person earning a big fat paycheck. It is not enough to invite them to the reception- by then we are often tired and need to be with our own family anyway.

Thanks for reading, and please reconsider your recommendation.

Holly (Freehold NJ)

Feb 27, 2013 3:20 PM

I am a server at a hotel. I have learned this from working weddings that when a tip is provided that you would think is for the staff, if it is not stated "this tip is for the servers" then the maitre d' will keep all of the tip. I believe that this is unfair considering they receive a big portion of the overall payment to begin with . Make sure if you would like the staff to receive the tip at the end of the wedding to clearly state that it is for each server who worked your wedding.

Laura (Michigan)

Mar 1, 2013 7:57 AM

My mother and and Aunt have been working in fine dinning for many years. When working in resturants they recieved the normal crappy waitsatff pay but there have been countless time they've been hired to do a wedding or special event and recieved $10.00 an hour plus 20% in tips. They even had a co-worker how give the "I make so little" sob story to the bride and groom to get larger tips. Check into how they satff is being paid. If they are getting a low wage then they certainly deserve your tips otherwise they many just be another person who hears wedding and adds $1000 to your bill.

Marilyn (California)

Apr 2, 2013 10:22 PM

Some of these tips amaze me. I am being charged a 28% gratuity on my $25,000 bill plus 9% tax. Am I really supposed to tip on top of that???
Also, I am paying my photographer $5000 and this does NOT include the pictures! He is the owner. Furthermore, my "day of" wedding planner is charging $1750. Do you feel that additional tipping is required? We will be having 150 guests.

Miranda (CA)

Apr 18, 2013 6:25 PM

You know.... I am really bugged by (almost) everyone's comments. In this case I believe no one "deserves" extra money if you are already paying them. What extra you give them is between you and your spouse. This list we all have read is just a guide line. Most of the people helping and doing things for my wedding are doing it for free. Now how do I know how to tip them? And the reason they offered to do it for free is because they love me and just want to help. No one should ever expect a tip, especially from a couple who is already paying thousands of dollars. I have helped at weddings for absolutely nothing and when offered money in return, I flat out turned them down. We who are just about to get married know how much $50 can go. It's amazing how draining a wedding can be emotionally, physically, and financially so worrying about tipping people should not be a priority.

Paula (Oregon)

Apr 20, 2013 1:48 PM

Sarah, great guidlines! Thank you. Miranda, Bravo!

Phoenix (UK)

Apr 25, 2013 1:24 PM

I apologise in advance if this offends anyone but I've never heard anything so outrageous in my life after reading this! People already pay ridiculous amounts for weddings and you guys in America are then expected to pay even more on top of the set price as a tip?! This is unheard of in the UK, I'm all for tipping in restaurants for good service but all of this is crazy, especially if you are on a tight budget!

Arica (US)

May 27, 2013 10:01 AM

I agree with Pheonix (UK) this is insane. These people are doing their job...if they want to make extra why don't they include it in the original price they charge? Guess what, I worked at a ball park for years making minimum wage, very now and then I'd get a tip, but was it expected every time I was a nice cashier? No way! If you don't like how much you're being paid, charge more or get a new job!

Emily (United States)

Sep 1, 2013 4:56 PM

ALWAYS tip your waitstaff/bartenders!! I am a server and do weddings, conventions, charity balls, galas, ect. and we are there 4-5 hours before your event and way after you leave. The 4ish hours you see us bringing out food and pouring your drinks is the tip of the iceberg to what we actually do. Some places do pay an actual livable wage ($10-$15) but others just take the "gratuity" from your contract and pay it on to the higher-ups. Always tip a MINIMUM of 10%, never just leave without leaving a tip, wherever you are.

Stephanie Brown (dallas)

Sep 6, 2013 4:58 PM

Actually I am a photographer that owns my own business as well as contracts for another company ro shoot wedding and I make about 3 times more when I shoot a wedding for my personal business than I do if I am contracted. I never expect a tip if I am shooting a personal wedding but if I shoot for another company I make significantly less and appreciate a tip very much! As someone in the business, if you are not finding this to be true with your company, then you are not charging enough!

Stacey (NY)

Jan 21, 2014 9:30 AM

Regardless if your vendor works for themselves or not - a tip is a tip. If your vendor went above and beyond tip them. If you can't afford to tip them, send them a small token of appreciation or a thank you card. It's polite. I do the same thing for my clients. I send them a thank you note and a gift because I appreciate them.

A tip is never expected, but I have to tell you it feels pretty crummy at the end of the night when everyone is getting handed an envelope and you know you have worked your heart out...not just for four hours of the reception like every other vendor but 12 + hours photograping every single minute.

We have been on our feet for 12 + hours with some times no drink and no food. We will go on to edit your photos, take care of your album and cards for an additional 40 hours. We are the only vendor who goes full circle with you. We meet before, we are there during and we will be seeing you after.

Treat someone the way you want to be treated.

Yvonne (Pennsylvania)

Jan 27, 2014 8:13 AM

I have been a wedding planner/catering director for over 30 years. The wedding industry certainly works by their own rules and has their own language. If you are working with a "all-inclusive" facility -- meaning they supply the food/bar/staff/venue, etc. and they give you a total bill with a "service charge" typically that service charge is going to the corporation, hotel, country club, or private owner, not to the staff. In fairness, the staff will normally make above minimum wage (not a lot more, but they're not making $2.00 or 3.00 an hour either.) If you have great service, giving the head server a tip to be divided among the staff ($100.00/$200.00) is an extremely nice gesture. Having said that the staff and the bartenders are who most people think to tip, so they are probably the most frequently tipped employee. And yes they work hard, but they have worked for you for one day. The chef, the kitchen staff rarely are tipped (and in all honesty work more hours and harder for you then the serving staff). If you do give the head server a tip of a few hundred to be divided make sure you specify that some goes to the kitchen staff. As others have said earlier, even $10.00 per person is a nice gesture. For an average wedding of 150 guests, you'd probably have maybe 15- 20 people who have their hands in day of event preparations for you (x $10 is $150 - $200.00 tip to be divided.) As for the services of your catering director, he or she would have spent hours, weeks, months, a year +, working with you, answering questions via phone and email, had several meetings in person, coordinated all of your planning, coordinated and answers questions from your dj, photographer, florist etc. yet very few people have ever offered a tip or a small gift. Service industry employees are not the best paid. Remembering them in some way is greatly appreciated.

April (United States)

Mar 29, 2014 12:25 AM

I realize this is an older blog post but I searched for such advice and disagree with a few things. We're getting married next May and I've thought long and hard about the tipping gesture. I won't be tipping anyone the night of the wedding. The absolute last thing I want to do is spend time figuring out who/what/how much etc.. I would MUCH rather reflect on it a few days later and send a personalized thank you letter and appropriate amount then. My vendors will just have to deal with it. I've worked in customer service and absolutely do not expect a generous tip if service was not exceptional. I believe people in customer service should earn their tip. If it's expected to be given based on bad service, what's the point?

Laura (Katy TX)

Apr 7, 2014 2:18 PM

I disagree that the florist shouldn't receive a tip! We put hours & hours of careful thought, design & time into making the wedding day perfect for our bride & grooms! We appreciate receiving a little something jut as much as the other vendors. If you build a relationship with your florist, which is very important, then by all means show them your appreciation!

SUSAN D (Long Island)

Jun 7, 2014 8:12 PM

I am getting married next month. I have a very small event, 30 people in total. The restaurant owner is one of the chefs. Of course a 20% gratuity is included in the bill. I asked about the gratuity charge and the wait staff compensation but the owner's answer was vague. I plan to tip the individual staff. Other things are a little "fuzzier". The officiant is a friend/volunteer as is the photographer. That makes tipping/gifting a little harder to figure out.
Don't laugh but I haven't even seen where I'm getting married or what is going to happen the day of.Its a nontraditional venue. I could not see myself paying over $1500 to my church for a 30 minute ceremony. That's nuts. But, that means I have no idea who is working the morning of the wedding.

Lauren L. (Tennessee)

Jul 6, 2014 9:23 AM

Regarding the ceremony musicians, they should be PAID, not "tipped". My husband is a pianist/organist & music director. It's not just "come & play some music" for a ceremony. He spends hours prepping, picking music, practicing the pieces so you have the best day possible. Not to mention the wedding rehearsals and taking time out of our family's Saturday to play the wedding. You should ask the musicians fee, and do not assume it's not a part of their salary. If you wish to tip on top of their fee, go for it, they probably deserve it because more work goes into these types of things than most people realize. But it's not "preferred" or "optional" to pay someone for their services, whether they are the photographer, minister and/or musicians that make your day so memorable.

Howie (USA)

Jul 30, 2014 7:08 PM

I am confused by the last comment here. I am getting married soon and is my DJ/Music people suppose to be free? This is something I should really look into before paying the $1500 to my DJ.

Hopefully, I am misinterpreting Lauren and she is saying that you shouldn't have to tip the musicians on top of their fee. Which, actually, seems correct upon rereading.

It does strike me as odd though that most these comments make it seem like no one is getting paid for their time. I understand its a lot of hard work to do a wedding, but isn't that why everything is so expensive at a wedding? No one questions the hard work of photographers, florist, etc., but isn't that why they cost so much? Other than wait staff, who else is making less than min. wage?

Andrea (Denver, CO)

Dec 11, 2014 1:49 AM

From personal experience as a former waitress, I was paid more for working "banquets" aka weddings. I was paid the minimum ~$3.50/hr when I was a server in the dining room, but paid ~$12.00/hr to work banquets. Not much, but I was in high school so I thought that was great. I would definitely tip on the catering/food bill 20% or so, but don't be that concerned with tipping each individual staff member, the restaurant/catering company figures that out.

Jasmine (Indiana)

Dec 30, 2014 6:49 PM

I am really glad people are mentioning that tipping an independent photographer. We don't pocket money.

Spending 7-10 hours a day with just the party, not including travel, not including time spent editing and consulting/communicating. Our software and equipment that we individually spent money on. Insurance. Paying ourselves. Taxes.

We barely, if at all, pocket anything. Tipping is a way to say - "Thanks for all that hard work and the hours you've spent helping me."

Samantha (CT)

Mar 24, 2015 6:38 AM

Our Venue includes a 20% gratuity charge on our total cost. Which is in total almost $4,000. And then we get taxed on top of that. Do we still tip the servers and bad tenders?

Sarah {A Paper Proposal} (Denver, CO)

Mar 24, 2015 1:34 PM

Hi Samantha! I would say that an included 20% gratuity in the contract is sufficient for most of the venue staff. However, if you are especially impressed or seem to be working more with anyone in particular, I highly encourage you to hand them their own small tip personally. Thanks for stopping by, and happy planning!

J (Seattle)

Apr 14, 2015 6:30 PM

Why would you tip your hairstylist but not your seamstress or tailor? Both are providing a service. Both make you look how you want. I say tip 10-15%, especially for the bridal gown.

Melody Brown (United States)

Sep 3, 2015 7:16 PM

I didn't know the florists don't usually expect a tip. I always thought you should tip them, it's good to know that it isn't necessary. Thanks for sharing, I will remember that.

Shawn (ND)

Oct 10, 2015 10:46 AM

Almost always overlooked when it comes to tipping are the 'unseen' people helping make your wedding dreams come true. The sound tech likely has over 10 hours into your wedding by the time it's all done. From prepping audio, video, and lighting elements to clearing a stage, being at your rehearsal and wedding (before and after you are there), putting everything back out on the stage for sunday morning, and many times just calmly putting the bride's mind at ease with last minute requests, any fee they get doesn't equate to a strong per hour pay rate. Likewise, the janitor is doing a ton of things that you won't notice unless it isn't done. And if anyone in the wedding party leaves a mess, it only piles on further.