Wedding Vendors Gratuity Guide
Photo Credit: Donny Tidmore Photography
Well hey there, you almost married couple! If you are reading this blog you are either ramping up for your big day and want to make sure you provide the correct gratuity to all of the vendors or you are right at the beginning of the planning process and want to make sure you budget properly. (Kudos to you for planning so early for this!)
This is actually something we always touch on in our first meeting when clients book us to make sure you properly plan and budget to care for the vendors who are making your wedding day come to life perfectly!
For starters, pretty much any is going to appreciate a review on at least one platform if not all of them. We always tell clients, it is okay to copy and paste your reviews from each platform. So go ahead and set a reminder on your calendar about a month after your wedding to sit down and write reviews for each vendor and try to put it on the main platforms: Facebook, The Knot, Wedding Wire, Google, and any other platforms they may ask of or you may know of. This is one of the biggest compliments and what continues to drive business to our companies.
Secondly, there is a misconception that you should only tip specific vendors, especially ones that are not business owners. This is not the best way to go about deciding tips. How you determine who and what you tip should depend on how the vendor has been throughout the planning process and on the day of the wedding. We believe a tip is earned because of great service and help and also from showing up on the wedding day and being a team player to make the day perfect for the couple getting married. Whether the vendor is an employee of someone else or owns the business, you should determine whether or not to include gratuity based on their quality of service and not their employment status with the company. With that being said, please also make sure that gratuity isn't already included in your final invoice from vendors. Sometimes this is included (think catering and bar service).
We always tell my clients, if you know someone has gone above and beyond, no matter what they have charged, and you feel like they deserve a little something, by all means, feel free to tip them.
Below is a breakdown of all the different vendors and what the typical protocol is for tipping each of them.
Photo credit: Carhart Photography
For catering, always double-check that your contract and payments to your caterer don’t already include gratuity. If they don’t, you should tip 15-20% percent of the total food bill. The service charge/admin fee is not gratuity; it helps cover the costs to prep and plan the execution of your wedding food and beverage. Tipping off of the total cost of the food allows the caterer to divide up the gratuity enough to also include the cooks, instead of just the servers and various staff. If you are not sure about what to tip, reach out to us or your caterer directly and they can help guide you! For bartenders, if gratuity is not already included, offering $50-$100 for each bartender is a great amount to plan for. Another option for bartenders is to allow a tip jar on the bar and allow the guests to tip them as they get drinks. If you go this route, be sure to have your planner check-in with the bartenders at the end of the night to make sure they were taken care of.
Photographer and Videographer:
These two groups of vendors are some of the most important because at the end of the night, they are the keepers of all of the memories. Given that they hold such a huge responsibility, gratuity for them is always hard. A lot of photographers and videographers don't expect tips, but we believe if they bust their butt for you on your wedding day and produce great products for you, it is worth taking care of them. Typically, $50-100 per shooter is a good place to start. You always want to make sure you include a separate envelope for second shooters. They deserve a tip as well! At a minimum, leaving them a review is the best thing you can do!
Ceremony Staff and Reception Staff:
It's not mandatory to tip the ceremony staff, reception staff, and delivery staff, but if you'd like to, then you can offer them $20-$50 each.
Often times officiants won't accept tips, but a $100 donation to their church is a great way to thank them. If the officiant is non-denominational, consider giving them a $50-$100 tip, especially if they aren't charging for your service. Officiants are always overlooked and they are legit the person making it legal for you to get married!
In our opinion, wedding planners and coordinators are often the most overlooked when it comes to tipping. These are the people making sure everything is happening when it is supposed to, making sure your guests are taken care of as well as vendors. There is so much running and hustling that happens behind the scenes that they can be the reason you say "the day was perfect" at the end of the wedding night. We recommend tipping your wedding planner 15-20% of your total invoice. If you want to wait until the end of the night, you can always set aside a separate envelope and wait until the wedding is close to being over to hand the tip to the wedding planners, to make sure you give an amount based on their effort of the day. We also recommend remembering to tip any assistants that help the lead planner on your wedding day. An extra $50-100 to assistants is always welcome. And as mentioned above, one of the greatest things you can do for a planner is referring your friends who are looking for a planner for their wedding and write them a review on specifics of how they showed up for your wedding day!
Hair and Makeup Artist:
A 15-20% tip is expected per service, just like it would be for any other regular salon visit, but it isn't required. If each individual is paying for their own services, be sure to communicate whether they are covering gratuity or if the bride is taking care of it. Sometimes this can get lost in communication. If you are the client paying for all services, then we recommend tipping on the total hair and make-up invoice. Remember, these artists are not getting paid for travel time or the product they use for their services so providing any sort of tip is always welcomed.
Band or DJ:
For musicians, a $25-$50 tip per band member is appropriate, and remember this also includes the setup and tear down crew as well as the audio engineer. Offering an extra $50-$100 tip is a nice gesture to your DJ, especially if they have to carry a lot of heavy equipment from one location to the next. Again, if you would prefer to not tip these vendors until the end of the night and you want to also tip based on performance, we recommend setting aside envelopes that are open and we can help you put the appropriate amount in each envelope to distribute during teardown.
If it isn't included in the contract, a $40-100 tip per driver is always a nice gesture. Just be sure to read your contract because a lot of times gratuity is already included. BUT that doesn't mean you can't tip on top of that if you felt like they went above and beyond for you.
The florist doesn't expect a tip but, again, a vendor who goes above and beyond should be rewarded with gratuity and a bomb 5-star review following the wedding. They do typically do a lot of work to set up and tear down for a wedding, so an additional 10-15% tip is always nice.
A lot of times the baker has charged a delivery fee to have the cake delivered but that is not gratuity. That covers the gas and the intense process of transporting cakes. If you have never transported a cake, it is quite a feat to make sure it gets to the venue all in one piece. Offering anywhere between $20-100 for the baker is a great way to thank them, especially if they knock your socks off with the design and taste!
We always tell my clients to have any outstanding balances and tips in labeled envelopes with the vendor’s name on the outside on the day of the wedding. This way we can confirm that all outstanding balances are taken care of and gratuity is put into the appropriate vendor’s hands.
We also advise my clients to bring a couple of hundred dollars cash on their wedding day, if they aren’t sure how much each person is worth tipping and extra envelopes. As the night progresses, if they see someone going above and beyond, they can always have us pull from that cash to tip those vendors who deserve a little extra. Again, definitely not a necessity but maybe a different way of handling tips if you aren’t sure about a tip amount.
If you are trying to stay as budget-friendly as possible, a great way to show your appreciation for all the vendors involved in making your wedding day special is to write a heartfelt thank you note that can be passed to each of the vendors as they set up the day. Vendors also love to be reviewed and referred, so make writing reviews online part of your post-wedding to-do list and refer your friends!