The Conversation No One Wants to Have: TIPPING

As wedding professionals, we often have to have those uncomfortable conversations. Because, after all, couples come to us for all their wedding-related questions!

So, this week our Special Moments Event Planning team tackles the big questions no one ever wants to have regarding tipping wedding professionals!

Asking The Wedding Pros

Rather than just sharing our experience, we dug deeper. We went to fellow Association of Bridal Consultants Master Wedding Planners for their input.

And we also read up on what wedding sites, from Brides to Wedding Wire, the knot, and several others, are sharing with couples on their sites.

We’ve compiled a list of things to know and look out for and some suggestions on tipping percentages or amounts.

Never Expected, Always Appreciated

The best place to start is that, in general, tips are never expected but always appreciated.

We say “in general” because there are some exceptions to every rule, and we’ll break those exceptions down for you.

Ready the Fine Print

Our first suggestion regarding tipping for your wedding is to read your agreements carefully.

You may find that in some cases, a gratuity is built into your contract price or is designated at a certain percentage due the day of your wedding.

Typically, transportation, hair and makeup services, and catering staff or bartenders fall into this category.

Service Charges

Following the theme of reading your agreement, double-check your catering or wedding venue agreement, as it might include a service charge.

However, you cannot assume that the included service charge is a tip for the service staff. In some cases, the service charge covers the business overhead, damage, equipment loss, or increased food cost. And as little as 3% goes to the service staff. So, it’s always good to ask how the money is used.

The Awkward Planning Tip

Nearly every source we read suggests that tipping a business owner is not necessary – just their employees.

The rationale is that, as business owners, we already charge a fair price for our services. Some sites break the recommendation down into owners of large or small businesses.

But, the bottom line on all the recommendations is: Feel free to tip if the service you receive knocks your socks off!

Planning in Advance

As wedding planners, we are accustomed to handing out tips to wedding vendors on behalf of our couples.

We ask that you have tips ready in clearly marked, sealed envelopes with the vendors’ names.

Ideally, if you give them to us at the rehearsal, it’s one less thing to worry about on your wedding day. But, having them for us the morning of your wedding works well too.

Beyond Cash

As we said previously, tipping is never (okay, rarely) required. It’s a kind gesture for a job well done. And while most wedding vendors greatly appreciate cash tips, there are absolutely other options too.

Handwritten thank-you notes and glowing online reviews go a long way to building a vendor’s reputation and future success.

We’ve other non-monetary gifts to vendors as well. Everything from bottles of wine to gift cards for a spa treatment or favorite restaurant. Typically you’ve spent a lot of time with some of your wedding pros and might know if something that would make a kind gesture.

Bottom line, unless outlined in your contract, tipping is very personal and should be made on a case-by-case basis based on extraordinary service.

Tipping Guidelines

Here are some of the industry-wide guidelines for tipping wedding vendors.

Seamstress: $20 to $30

Hair and Makeup: 15–25 percent, depending upon the quality of service. More if you or your wedding party have had a minor emergency.

Wedding Officiant: $50-$100. More, depending on how much time they’ve spent with you leading up to the wedding.

Wedding Ceremony Musicians: $15–$20 per musician

Wedding Delivery and Setup Staff:  $5–$10 per person

Photographer/ Videographer: $50–$200 per vendor

Wedding Reception Staff: 15–20 percent of the food and drink, $200–$300 for the banquet manager.

Wedding Reception Band or DJ: $25–$35 per musician; $50–$150 for DJs

Wedding Transportation Company: *see contract – typically 15–20 percent of the total bill

Baker and Florist: $50 to $100, or a small gift

As always, our Special Moments Event Planning team is happy to chat with our couples individually to discuss your specific situation and vendors.

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