A TIP for your wedding vendor?

19 Feb


T.I.P.S is an acronym for To Insure Prompt Service. When thinking about your wedding tips, I have my own acronym, T.I.E.S, To Insure Excellent Service.  Tips are not mandatory—they are used as expressions of your appreciation for good service. With that in mind, I suggest that unless the service was terrible, you should stick to the customary tipping suggestions. Your wedding vendors are going to work hard to make sure your day is perfect, most of the time, going above and beyond what their contract says. They do this because they are not in this business for the money, but because they have a passion for it.  Think about it, would you walk away from a restaurant table without leaving a tip? The same applies to weddings: It is customary to show your gratitude by tipping many of the people involved in making yours a success. Here are some ‘tips’ to help you navigate.


It is very important to check your contracts!

Just like when you are part of a big party at a restaurant, the tip is sometimes included in your contract! So, be careful when reading the fine print to avoid double tipping. Alan Fields, coauthor of Bridal Bargains, says, “Many gratuities are built into the price quotes for major items like catering—typically 15 to 20 percent—or smaller things like limos.”

Anna Post, author of Do I Have to Wear White? Emily Post Answers America’s Top Wedding Questions, suggest an easy way to insure your tip is taken care of, “You might consider adding the gratuity in the contract, if it is not already included, so you don’t have to deal with it on the day.”


Reward extraordinary efforts


Beyond the customary tips (see list below), when someone goes out of their way for you—like the baker that makes those last-minute changes you requested; or the venue manager who makes those extra 3 tables fit in the space somehow…. You can thank them with a bottle of wine or another tangible token of your appreciation. If you’ve sat with your wedding planner hour after hour and she’s worked her butt off to pull it all off flawlessly, you might want to add a personal thank-you note and small gift to her customary tip; if you’ve used her more sparingly, a nice personal gift alone would be sufficient.


What are your ceremony policies?

  • Find out if your congregation has donation guidelines. Typically, if you’re getting married in a house of worship, you should plan to make a donation anywhere in the amount of $100 up to $500, depending on how active a member you are.
  • For a nondenominational officiant, who you are already paying a fee, tip between $50 and $100.
  • Court clerks are prohibited from accepting tips. For this, a little gift, like home-baked cookies, or a thank-you card would be appreciated.


Who’s in charge here?


Assign someone you can rely on to hand out envelopes with the noncontract tips in cash. Ask one of the fathers, the best man, your super organized maid of honor of your mother to make sure this gets done.

When do you distribute the tips? There are a couple of options.

  • At the time of service for services such as hair and makeup.
  • At the end of the wedding, which allows you to adjust the size of the tips to reflect the service. Just remember to have it done.
  • At the beginning of the event. Be careful of doing this in case the service did not meet your expectations. On the other hand, David Tutera, celebrity event planner, says that “If you hand out your gratuity envelopes before your wedding, the vendors will be more likely to go above and beyond for you on your special day.”


How much should you tip?


Mindy Weiss’s The Wedding Book has a very useful “Tipper’s Table,” that you can pull a lot more information from.

Bartenders: 10 percent of the total liquor bill (to be split among all of the bartenders.)
Catering manager: $200+ or a personal gift
Chef: $100+
Hairstylist: 15 to 20 percent
Limo or bus drivers: 15 percent
Makeup artist: 15 to 20 percent
Musicians: 15 percent of fee for ceremony musicians; $25 to $50 per musician for reception
Photographer/videographer: If you’re paying a flat fee with no overtime, $100
Valet or parking attendants: $1 to $2 per car; 15 percent for valet parking
Waiters: $20 and up each (distributed by the catering manager or maitre d’)
Wedding planner: 15 percent of fee or a personal gift


Remember those vendors that made your event extra special and refer them to others that may use their services. This is a great compliment to them from you!





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