So you're getting married. You've picked your vendors, paid for the catering and all the other lovely things that will make your day perfect... After all, you only do this once, right? Now they've all arrived to serve you, to make your day amazing. How do you tip them? This isn't just some cab ride home, after a drunken evening! It's one of the most important days of your life so far! Here is some industry advice on how to make sure you're taking care of the people taking care of you that day. To read a post on how to tip in everyday life, hair stylists, restaurant servers, etc, read THIS post!
HERE is a post to tell you how to tip on the day of.. cash? Check? Envelopes? How do you give it to them? What's customary, What's expected?
Many blogs have various ideas on this, but few of them are written from the perspective of someone IN the industry who knows and has conversations with ALL types of vendors on your wedding day. I have that experience, and I chat with every one of your vendors, no matter how small a part of your day they are. Now this is, of course, budget allowing. You should plan from the beginning to tip, so you have the budget left over to tip the vendors. You don't go to a restaurant with $100 and spend it all on food... with nothing left to tip at the end, right?
I have read in several places online that you shouldn't tip the owner. I find that silly. If someone owns a photography business, they have drastically more expenses, costs, and work to do than a photographer working as a second photographer. Tips should be service based, not position based. If someone takes excellent care of you, show them the love. Read more to see a breakdown of each wedding vendor and the tip they deserve...
So there are several types of wedding planners: those who do just your last minute details, month of coordination, and day of service, and those who do it all from start to finish. I would recommend starting with that day-of coordinator and working up from there. Just like when you think about tipping in your regular life, think about how much work that person has done for you over the life of the service. With a restaurant server, it's an hour or two. With your wedding planner, it could be a hundred hours or more! Consider that when you tip. A very nice tip for your planner is related to your overall budget. Tip them based on how much work it was to put together your event. The bigger budget events are more work than the smaller budget events (typically!), so it is scalable. An average wedding in Denver with a wedding planner is spending about $40,000 on the wedding, and around $5,000 on the full-service wedding planner. $500 as a tip is a nice tip for that planner. That person has spent between 50 and 100 hours on your day. They have likely spent hours in the car, miles driving around the city collecting stuff and meeting with people. They have worked their butts off for you. They deserve it. This person is the most involved person in your day. Another option for a wedding planner is a nice gift. I have often seen people get a nice basket for the ir planner, say a nice hotel room, a restaurant gift certificate, wine and cheese, and tickets to a show. Something valued at what a tip would have been, but personalized to your planner. You typically get to know your planner pretty well over the course of the event, and can often build a more personalized gift for them with a little thought.
Wedding Coordinator, or Day of Coordinator
Here is an article on day-of coordination and what a coordinator actually does. Your day of coordinator typically makes $1000-1500. They, of course, work for many hours outside of your day. They build timelines, manage rehearsals and walk throughs, handle your vendor coordination to make sure everyone knows where to be wherever they are supposed to be, etc. Keeping with that 10% model from above, they would receive $100-150. That is a very reasonable tip for that coordinator. If they went above and beyond for service, and your day wouldn't have been possible without them? Maybe consider that when you tip.
Caterer and Catering Staff
The Catering bill is a hefty one, typically. People ask me all the time, "do I have to tip 20% of the WHOLE THING?!" No, is the answer. With catering, first figure out if they INCLUDED the gratuity in there already. Some caterers do. If they did, you can boost that tip if you like, by handing cash to the catering captain the night of. If they didn't, think about what that staff is doing for you. They move tables and chairs, setup and breakdown, take care of your unruly uncle Joe, and make sure your dinner goes smoothly. I usually recommend some tip for the staff, usually broken down into separate envelopes for each staff member. $20 or $30 per person is an OK tip, and more is of course better. I usually recommend tipping your catering captain a bit more, as they are the person managing the rest of the staff. Cater-waiters typically make $10-15 an hour, as a rule. That's a decent hourly wage, so it's not like a restaurant server making $3 an hour. That $30 is a nice bonus for them at the end of the day. If your food is more high end, tip more. The more high-end your event is, the more skill it takes to handle serving the guests. Did the fancy staff do synchronized service, so all your entrees hit a table at once? Plated dinners require more service, and more skill than buffets. Keep all of those things in mind when tipping. HERE is what Martha Stewart says about tipping...
Florist and Floral Concierge
So this category varies widely. Whether you tip is all about the service level. Some florists deliver flowers, and it is just a delivery van, a delivery man, and a drop-off. There is no on-site delivery service, such as pinning on the boutonnieres, setting everything up for you, making sure the details are perfect, and moving ceremony decor to reception. If your florist goes above and beyond, sends out a designer and a concierge to make sure your day goes well, your flowers are, and stay, perfect... they deserve a tip. They're in the service industry. How much is really about how much work they do for you. How many hours were they there? Did they repair broken bouts that your groomsmen smushed? Fix flowers in a bouquet that stayed out of water for too long? I would recommend a tip per-person based on the size of your order and how long the delivery team was there. On a $3500 floral order, two people are typical for delivery, and they'll typically be onsite for 3-4 hours. A good rule of thumb is $25-50 per person for that level of service. For half of that bill and service, go on the low end, say $20 a person. For double that bill/service? Double it.
Photographers and Videographers
Photographers and Videographers are two vendors whose actual work you wont see for weeks if not months after the events. You see them busting their butts that day to get that perfect shot from the top of the hill, and of course you see them herding your family into group shots. You don't see the hours and hours of slaving over their computers, the THOUSANDS they spend on equipment and digital sites to house your media. My recommendation, when I do wedding planning, is to tip them for the work they do the day of, and their on-site service that day. Then, if you're particularly happy with the result, and if you hired the right pro, you should be, tip them after. I usually recommend for a photographer you spent $3500 on, tip $100-200 on the day of, and do that again at product receipt. That can vary, of course, if you spend more, tip more. Think of this in hours worked, as well. Many photographers spend 10 hours on the day of, and another 10-20 hours editing, uploading, creating albums, etc. They too, are in the service industry.
Musicians, DJs, and Emcees
Your wedding reception is driven by your DJ, Emcee, or band. Your guests' experience will be amazing or blah, based on how much fun they're having. While we want to think that our company is enough to make these folks' days, your company plus hours of sweaty and sassy dancing, as well as well announced events will keep your guests' evening moving and make it a memorable experience! You should tip these guys based on their level of service as well. Did they follow your music needs to the letter? Did they entertain your guests with banter and jokes if that's the kind of DJ you hired? Did they mis-pronounce your hubby's name all night long? Focus on how they did, how you felt treated. For live music, tip each player individually.
Setup and Breakdown Staff
Your behind-the-scenes staff is often overlooked at a wedding. Sometimes, this staff is your catering staff. Sometimes, you've hired a staff to build a tent, setup a fish-tank dance floor, and hang miles of tiny lights so you can dance under the 'stars' all night long. Those people work hard, and even a $10 tip can make them feel really appreciated.
Hair and Makeup
These folks make you look like you just walked out of a magazine. You tip the guy at cost-cutters for your trim, and that looks just like you every day. A customary tip in a salon is 15-20%, and I recommend the same for an on-site stylist. Some will tip 20% on the bride, and 10% on everyone else. These folks often do expect a tip, and tips are often expected when they're pricing their services.
OTHER blogs on the subject, from other writers:
Borrowed and Blue Says...
Martha Stewart Says...
The Knot Says...
Wedding Paper Divas Says...