One question that I get asked a lot is, “Who in my vendor team should I tip and how much?” Prior to making a list of who is expecting gratuity, I would ask that you review your contracts to make sure that it is not already included. Just like restaurants, some times gratuity is added to the invoice. If you don’t check you could end up unknowingly overtipping a vendor that is expecting gratuity. Some contracts also require gratuity, so look for that language as well. More often than not if it is require, they went ahead and added it to the invoice.
Weddings are no different than everyday business interactions. Those providing a service are usually those that are expecting gratuity. There are some exceptions though because unlike everyday interactions, every vendor that is at your wedding is providing a service.
A general rule of thumb for those that are not expected is if they own their own business you should not tip them. But if someone is an employee of that business then you should tip them. A great example of this is photographers. They are not expecting a tip but if they are employees of a larger company, it is a nice gesture.
Vendors Expecting a Tip
Hair Stylist and Makeup artists (15%-20% of their fee)
They spent their morning amongst you and your ladies but they weren’t there to hang out. They spent a few hours making you and your bride squad look extra gorgeous for your big day.
Catering Staff (15%-20% of the staff line item on invoice)
These people will make or break your wedding and they work really hard to make sure that your guests have food when expected. Your contract will list the number of staff members that will be present at your wedding. Be sure that the total is enough for them to split between themselves.
Bartenders (10%-15% of the bar total)
These beautiful souls made sure that the alcohol was flowing so that everyone was laughing at your best man’s nervous jokes during the speech. They also put up with your groomsmen constantly asking for shots. It didn’t get better as the night when on. They more than earned it!
This depends on the type of officiant. If they belong to a religious institute, they will require that you make a donation of a specific min amount. I would check with the religious organization. If it is a civil servant then the amount above should be sufficient. If you have a friend or family member performing the ceremony then in my opinion, the free food and alcohol should do just fine. Assuming of course you invited them to the reception.
Ceremony Musicians/Band Members ($50-$100 each)
These people kept your wedding ceremony/ your reception moving and entertaining. Talk about a total show stopper.
DJ (15%-20% of their fee)
Most DJs are employees of a larger company. Just like the live entertainment they kept your wedding moving along and your guest entertained.
Vendors Not Expecting Gratuity
Photographer/Videographer ($100-$200 each)
Assuming they own their own business I would only tip the second shooter/videographer, if applicable. If they work for a larger company this amount should be sufficient.
Florist and Baker ($5-$20 per person)
If they have staff with them or someone else is doing the delivery and setup other than the owner of the company, then you should elect to provide them gratuity. If it is the owner though it is not expected.
Delivery Staff/ Venue Staff/ Rental Staff / Draping Staff ($5-$20 per person)
Setting up for a wedding is a lot of hard work. I am sure that these staff members would appreciate the gratuity in exchange for their hard earned sweat.
This is usually part of the service fee, if not this should be sufficient.
If you would like to express gratitude to a vendor who was exceptional, a copy of your favorite wedding picture with a handwritten thank you note is always nice! Most small business depend on word of mouth to continue to grow. If you found that a vendor is worth a referral, a review on Google will go a long way in helping them to continue to serve more couples and would mean so much more to the vendor.