Expert Tipping Advice

We found this blog post about expert tipping advice from Southern Weddings to be incredibly helpful and wanted to share it with you! We have found the topic of vendor tipping to be a sticky and awkward conversation so we hope you all get some guidance from this article.

Expert Tipping Advice Blog Post from Southern Weddings

One of the more popular posts we’ve ever written is on tipping wedding vendors. (I wish it were something more exciting, but there you have it!) And I don’t blame y’all–there are so many different sources offering advice, and so many different dollar amounts recommended for so many different vendors at so many different times, that your head can start to spin long before you start separating cash out into envelopes.

Plus, when you’re already shelling out thousands of dollars per vendor, you might find yourself feeling, ahem, a little less than grateful at the thought of tipping on top of your final bill. Believe me, I completely understand! BUT, if you remember that tipping is never required, and should only be used to reward exemplary service, you might begin to feel a little differently.

With the help of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Chelsey Morrison from Gather Together Events (who has been sending our guide to her brides for years!), we updated our advice and even made a handy list with everything in one neat place.

Finally, remember that while cash or a gift is always appreciated (and can be given whenever you’d like, regardless of our guidelines below!), a grateful spirit on your wedding day; a genuine, thoughtful thank you note after your wedding; and personal referrals to family and friends are without a doubt the MOST valuable gifts you can give your treasured vendors.

colorful bouquets

Photo by Kristen Kilpatrick from our eighth issue

Wedding Planner
Should I tip? If your planner owns her own business, then no tip is expected, since it’s not customary to tip the owner of a business. However, if you would like to recognize exemplary performance, a personal gift or check is an option. If your planner has assistants on your wedding day (which most do), she will likely split the tip among them if she is the business owner.
How much? Up to $500, or 15% of her fee, or a nice gift
When? We recommend sending a thank you note and your check or gift after you return from your honeymoon.

Delivery and Set-up Staff
Should I tip? It’s a lovely gesture, especially if they were careful to set everything up to your specifications and without causing damage to the surroundings.
How much? $5 – $10 per person
When? Drop off envelopes with your catering manager or wedding planner if they’ll be accepting deliveries on your behalf. Sending after the event is okay, too.

spring bouquet

Photo by KT Merry from our eighth issue

Wedding Photographer or Videographer (and other vendors like florists or cake bakers)
Should I tip? As most photographers and videographers own their own businesses, tipping is not expected or required in this case. If you are working with an associate photographer, a tip is customary. Either way, a personal gift is always a lovely touch.
How much? 15% of his fee, or a gift
When? After the honeymoon

Wedding Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist
Should I tip? Yes, this is one area where a gratuity is definitely expected. However, the owning-their-own-business exception is still in effect, so keep that in mind.
How much? 15-25%, just as you would for a normal appointment
When? On the day of your wedding, after she’s finished getting you prettified

 

simple outdoor ceremony

blue wedding flowers

Photos by Whitney Neal from our eighth issue

Wedding Transportation
Should I tip? Check your contract, because a gratuity is usually included. If it’s not, then one is pretty much expected.
How much? 15-20% of the total bill if a service/gratuity charge is not included in your contract. If a gratuity is included and you’d still like to go above and beyond, a flat tip per driver of $5-10 per hour of service is commonplace.
When? When the driver picks you up or after the last ride

Wedding Ceremony Officiant
Should I tip? It isn’t necessary to tip religious officiants like a priest or minister (many of them, in fact, won’t accept cash tips). In lieu of a tip, a donation to their house of worship is a nice gesture. It’s not expected that you’ll tip a civil employee or non-religious officiant, either (and sometimes, in the case of civil employees, tipping can be illegal). For all officiants, a personal gift, such as a gift certificate to a nice restaurant, would certainly be appreciated.
How much? For an officiant associated with a house of worship, a donation of $100-500 is appropriate if there is no fee for the officiant, or $50-150 if you have already paid them a fee. If you’re working with an independent officiant, $50-150 is appropriate.
When? At the rehearsal or rehearsal dinner or after the ceremony

camilyn beth dresses

magnolia bouquet

Photos by Katie Stoops from our eighth issue

Wedding Ceremony Musicians
Should I tip? This one’s definitely optional. If the string trio you hired has arranged or learned a particular song for you at no additional charge, then a tip might be a nice gesture.
How much? $20 – $50 per musician, or 15% of total fee
When? Before the musicians leave your ceremony site

Wedding Reception Band or DJ
Should I tip? It’s completely optional, but somewhat common. For bands that book their own gigs (i.e. separate from an entertainment agency), tipping is not customary.
How much? If you choose to tip, set aside $40-$100 per musician or $50-$200 for DJs
When? Before they leave the reception

bridal party casual photo

Photo by Nancy Ray from our eighth issue

Wedding Reception Staff
Should I tip? Oh boy, this one’s the big guy. Yes, you should tip, but look to see whether a gratuity is not already included in your contract — it often is. (If gratuity is included, you’ll likely still want to make an additional flat fee tip on top of that – see below.)
How much? If a gratuity/service charge is not included, tip 15-20% of the cost of your total catering bill. If it is included, and you’d like to add an additional thank you, go with flat fee amounts: catering manager, banquet manager, headwaiter, or maitre d’: $50-$150; head chef: $50-$150; kitchen staff: $20-$50 each; bartenders: $20-$50 each; and servers: $20-50 each.
When? Before you leave the reception

Here’s an easy-to-pin version of our tipping cheat sheet:

tips for tipping

A final tip from Chelsey, who says about 75% of her clients choose to tip beyond the expected vendors: “On your wedding day, the last thing you want to worry about it money changing hands. It is a GREAT idea to put any final payments and tips in individually labeled envelopes to be handed out by your planner the day of the event.

“If you want to wait until the end of the event to see which vendors went above and beyond, trust your planner to make the call – we’ve worked hand in hand with them all day and see what goes on behind the scenes. In that case, I have my clients provide an envelope of cash in different bills (and keep it on my person at all times during the day). If I see great service, I will hand out the tip amounts and write them on the envelope how much was handed out and to whom. I hand the envelope back to the father of the bride (or wedding host/financier) at the end of the night that shows the summary of what was handed out and any remaining cash.” Such a good idea, Chelsey!

Wishing you all exemplary service at your weddings that deserves copious tips! 🙂

Gather Together Events, Kristen Kilpatrick, Whitney Neal, and KT Merry are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

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