Wedding planning is a whirlwind of to-do lists and decisions. Some steps, like picking your venue or figuring out a budget, are instrumental in helping you plan other parts of your events. While other details, like how much to tip your vendors, are often overlooked.
When it comes to wedding planning, it’s never a good idea to leave anything last minute, including allocating vendor tips.
To save you some stress before you break out the white envelopes, we’ve put together some guidance to give you some insight into navigating the gratuity process. From whom to tip to how much, our “tips” will put you on top of your tipping game.
Wedding Vendor Tipping Etiquette
We often get asked, “Is tipping wedding vendors mandatory?”
While tipping isn’t technically expected or mandatory, it is appreciated – especially when a vendor provides excellent service.
Think of it like going to a restaurant. You expect a certain experience from your waitstaff and it’s customary to give a tip at the end of that experience. If your waiter goes above and beyond to serve you, you’ll likely leave more to show appreciation.
The same goes for your wedding vendors. Don’t feel pressured to give tips for subpar services. In fact, if things were less than ideal, most vendors would welcome an opportunity to learn (ie constructive feedback!) and we’d suggest you open up a dialogue with that vendor. But… that’s not what this article is about! Absolutely DO tip for a job well done and consider giving a little extra for truly stellar service!
Want to be really ahead of the curve? Budget for gratuities up front. Assuming you chose excellent vendors who provided excellent service – you planned ahead! If there’s a hiccup or two and you don’t pass along those tips… well, silver lining, you came in under budget!
How to Tip Wedding Vendors
Start determining the who and what of vendor gratuities by checking your contracts. Some contracts include a service charge or service fee as part of your bill. Every business will handle this different and it’s important to ask questions in order to understand how this is distributed. Just because it says service charge doesn’t mean it goes to the bartenders, coat check, or transportation; in fact often times that doesn’t make it into the pocket of those providing a hospitality service.
Understanding how it’s distributed ensures you’re both actually giving gratuity those that deserve and avoiding double-tipping. With some companies, the fee will be distributed among all employees and with others it goes straight to the company as revenue. So, if you want something going directly to a specific person, we encourage handing them a cash tip. While most vendors we recommend waiting until the end of the evening, for your venue you may want to consider providing a generous cash tip up front while (politely!) asking for any tip jars to be tucked away. This is something your wedding planner can handle for you!
When to Tip Wedding Vendors
The easiest way to ensure your tips get taken care of is to enlist your wedding planner. Most will take on the task of distributing your cash and non-cash tips after services are rendered.
We typically give vendors their tips after they’ve provided the service to ensure our couple is happy. There’s always an exception, for example, like a band or DJ; they tend to perform even better if they see that a stuffed envelope is headed their way before they start. It’s like a boost!
If you want to give a loved one the honor of doling out tips, have them hand the tips out early rather than later in the day. Because as the celebration waxes into the night, it will be too easy to lose track of or forget.
What and How Much to Tip Wedding Vendors
When we build a budget with a couple, we create categories, and tipping becomes part of the overall budget. As a general guide, we recommend tipping between 10-25% for each of the vendors below.
Also, note that tips don’t have to be in the form of cash. There are plenty of non-cash alternatives, which we’ve also covered.
Officiant: For religious officiants, you can donate to their place of worship, however, that doesn’t go to them. We recommend also giving a gift card over cash (incase they took a vow of poverty!) so they have something they can use personally. For non-religious officiants, 10-25% and/or non-cash tip.
Entertainment: Remember to include entertainers from the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. Consider 15-20%.
Hair and Makeup: Tip individual hairstylists and makeup artists, just as you would a regular visit to the salon. If your wedding party pays their way, coordinate ahead of your day to ensure tipping isn’t overlooked; start with 20% and consider extra for the lead.
Photography and Videography: Cash tips aren’t typical for lead photographers/videographers (though, always appreciated!); a gift card (consider $500) with a nice bottle of wine is a great way to say thanks. Tip second shooters and assistants $50-$100. If you added on a Photo Booth – consider a tip there, too!
Floral and Decor Teams: Cash tips aren’t typical for the floral and decor teams, however, we tend to recommend them anyway. The florists we work with go above and beyond for our clients (like many vendors) with complimentary showings, sketches, and design collaboration. Consider $500-$1,000 for the floral and decor design teams along with $50-$100 for each crew member on site for setup.
Venue and Catering Managers. If you had a venue manager go above and beyond (did they throw in a freebie or answer the 1,000 questions from your mom?) then we’d recommend tipping them as well! Start out considering $500 cash and/or non-cash tip.
Transportation: Tip your driver in cash along with something thoughtful like snacks and water. Typically we budget $100-$200 for each driving working a 4+ hour shift, and $50 for each driver doing a single transfer.
Planners: There’s a misconception that if a lead planner owns their company, tipping is off the table. And while tips are optional, they’re still a nice gesture and always welcome.
When it comes to tipping, many planners encourage cash (in small bill form) so that it can be split among the entire team.
Non-Cash Tip Options
Cash may be a tried and true way to show your appreciation, but here are a few of our other favorite ways to tip your wedding vendors.
Gift Card: A gift card to their favorite shop or a bank card that gives them access to shop anywhere is a lovely way to say thank you.
Positive Review: A positive review is powerful and can do wonders for your preferred vendors. Go ahead and leave one, even if you’re giving a cash tip.
Social Media: Tag your photos, hashtag your vendors, share, and send shoutouts.
Word of Mouth: If you know someone who needs a planner, photographer, DJ, etc. and you were impressed with yours, spread the word. Word of mouth can often be more beneficial than an advertisement!
Welcome Bags: If you’re having a destination wedding and vendors are coming in from out of the area, consider welcoming them with a bag of goodies. A late-night snack and a bottle of water can make a world of difference.
We hope these tips on tipping have given you some guidance on what to expect – and what’s expected – when it comes to tipping your wedding vendors. If you’d like to plan your wedding with us and receive a personalized tipping guide, let us know!