Should I Tip My Wedding Vendors?
Like we always say, you’ve likely never planned a wedding before. And because of that, many couples are surprised to learn that tipping vendors is a fairly common practice in the wedding industry. We talk with all our couples about gratuity in their initial planning meeting, and the reactions typically fall somewhere between “I didn’t even know tipping vendors was a thing!” to “I know I want to tip my vendors, but don’t know who or how much.”
Factoring gratuity into your budget early on in planning can help you to stay within your financial boundaries and not be surprised with a few thousand more dollars being spent the week of the wedding. Consider if you would like to tip your wedding vendors, who you would like to tip, and estimate how much. While you certainly don’t need to know down to the dollar what you’ll be tipping each vendor, it’s helpful to set aside 5-10% of your budget for gratuity if you would like.
Read on to learn more about which vendors are more standard to tip versus who is optional, how much is common to tip, and how to go about tipping.
Which vendors should I tip?
A reliable rule of thumb for determining which vendors to tip is to consider who you would tip in the “real world.” In the U.S., it’s standard to tip servers at a restaurant, bartenders, hair stylists, makeup artists, personal drivers, and delivery people. The same goes for weddings. For any vendor outside of this list, it’s optional to tip them but always greatly appreciated.
If you prefer not to give a monetary tip but would like to thank the vendor for their service, a gift, handwritten note, bottle of wine, gift card, etc. is a nice gesture. Remember that many wedding vendors are small businesses, so posting a review on sites like The Knot, Wedding Wire, Google, and Facebook is so beneficial! And don’t feel like you have to reinvent the wheel each time if you want to post your review on multiple sites – just copy and paste. You’ll help to boost the business’s web presence and give future couples peace of mind when booking.
How much should I tip?
Before we dive in, remember that there really is no “should” when it comes to tipping. Below are just our suggestions based on what we normally see vendors getting tipped in the Midwest. Please feel free to tip as you see fit. It’s not always the dollar amount that matters, it is often just the thought that makes your vendors feel appreciated.
An easy calculation for tipping vendors that offer packages or have a set pricing structure (like your photographer, videographer, DJ, planner or coordinator, hair and makeup artists, and so on) is to tip 10-20% of your package total. For hair and makeup artists, the typical range for tipping tends to fall closer to 18-20% of the service cost; for those other vendors, it’s closer to 10%. If you had a stellar experience with a certain vendor, you may opt to tip them more; or, on the flip side, if you had a not-so-great experience, you may choose to tip less or not at all.
For catering, a common practice is to tip 18-20% of the food and beverage total. Note that this is not the same as the total amount you’re paying for catering. Your catering proposal may include other line items for staffing, equipment, taxes, administrative fees, and more, and it’s not necessary to tip on top of these charges. You’ll need to take a look at your catering proposal subtotal lines and add up the food and beverage costs to come up with the tip amount (or it may already be done for you on the proposal). Some caterers include gratuity as part of the proposal. This amount can typically be adjusted or removed depending on if and how much you would like to tip.
Particularly if you’re getting married at a venue with in-house catering, you may see a service fee added to your catering proposal. Most often, this service fee is not inclusive of gratuity; however, there are certain venues that include gratuity in this fee, so it’s best practice to always double-check with your venue manager to confirm.
If your bartenders are included with your catering, the catering gratuity will cover them as well. However, if you’re using an outside staffing company or if your bartenders are provided by your venue for an in-house bar, a standard tip is $50 to $100 per bartender.
Some transportation companies will include gratuity in your overall quote for ease. Similar to catering, this amount can be adjusted however you see fit or removed. If gratuity is not included, it’s common to tip the wedding day driver $50 to $100. For other drivers, such as for cake or rental deliveries, $25 to $50 is standard.
For music groups made up of multiple people, such as a band or ceremony musicians, the gratuity amount commonly falls between $25 and $50 per member. For your florist, the tip may be dependent on the level of installation they are performing, but gratuity is typically between $100 and $300.
How and when should I distribute gratuities?
Cash is the preferred method for monetary tipping. The easiest way to go about distributing gratuities is to place each vendor’s tip in a separate, sealed envelope. On the outside of the envelope, write the vendors’ company or name so envelopes don’t get mixed up. Give these to your planner or coordinator to distribute to each vendor on wedding day; if you’re having a ceremony rehearsal that your planner will attend, it’s easiest to give the envelopes to them at this time so you don’t have to worry about it on wedding day. If you won’t have a planner on-site on the wedding day, you can assign this task to a VIP (a family member, wedding party member, etc.).
For your hair stylists and makeup artists, it’s typically easiest to hold onto these tip envelopes since you’ll be with them in the morning. If wedding party members, family members, and/or other friends are getting hair or makeup services done, make sure to let them know how tipping will be handled and if they need to come prepared with cash or can transfer money through Venmo, Zelle, etc.
For your catering tip in particular, don’t separate this amount out into individual envelopes for each server, as this can cause confusion when staff are arriving and departing at various times throughout the afternoon and evening. Instead, simply lump the gratuity into one envelope and have whoever is distributing your gratuities give it to the wedding day catering captain, who will then pass it out among the staff members.
For other vendors, it’s okay to separate tips out based on certain staff members; for instance, if you have a second photographer or videographer, or if your planner has wedding day assistants, you can give these individuals their own gratuity envelopes if you prefer.
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