Rachel Griffin, owner & lead wedding planner
Tipping Wedding Vendors
Plan Along with Me Series – Step 9: Guide to Wedding Vendor Gratuities
Hands down, some version of tipping wedding vendors is the most frequently asked question I get from my couples.
“Who gets a tip?”
“How much are we supposed to tip?”
“When do we tip them?”
I completely understand! It’s a weird wedding area to navigate. You probably don’t want to offend vendors you love by skipping a tip they might be expecting, but I’m sure you also don’t want to spend money where it’s not necessary.
Or maybe you would really love to tip, but you just don’t have any wiggle room in your wedding budget to make it happen.
Here’s the truth: when tipping wedding vendors, who to tip & the amount to tip is completely up to you.
No absolute standard exists. Nothing is expected, and anything is always appreciated. My rule of thumb for knowing who customarily would get one, is to tip anyone that's providing a service.
Here's a general guide, broken down by vendor group:
I recommend tipping hair and makeup vendors like you would if you went to a salon,10 to 20%. You’ll tip them after their services are complete on the wedding day.
Generally, these vendors want their final balances before they leave at your wedding, so you can usually just add their gratuity at the time you pay the final balance. If all your ladies are paying separately, they can individually handle gratuities as well, or you could offer to take care of it for them and just give one tip all together at the end of the afternoon.
Catering & Venue:
For your catering team, typically you'd tip like a restaurant for them to split between the servers,15 to 20%. It’s important to double check your invoice or contract to make sure they haven't already added in gratuity for the wait staff. If they have, you won’t need to do anything additional.
Often, you'd give a bit extra to the lead event person you've dealt directly with, both at your venue and for the catering team (this might be the same person). This person (or persons) would have helped you decide menus, linens, layouts, etc., and who's usually the lead in charge the day-of. $50 to $100, would be my suggestion for them.
You should consider having something for the bartenders also, $25 to $50 each. If they're putting out a tip jar, you are not expected to give anything additional.
Musicians, whether for your Ceremony or Reception band, are customary to tip. Usually, $15 to $20 per musician for the ceremony is generous. Often reception band members would be slightly more, in the $20 to $50 per person range.
If you have a DJ instead, it would also be normal to tip them for a job well done - $50 to $150.
These vendors would be tipped at the conclusion of their services, following the ceremony or at the end of the night.
If your ceremony is being held in your place of worship, you might be expected to make a donation to the church or synagogue, normally in the range of $100 to $300, in leu of being charged to use the space. This would cover the services of the religious professional performing the ceremony as well. If they’re charging you for the space, you can absolutely stay on the lower end of this.
If your officiant is a wedding professional or not associated with a particular institution, a tip in the range of $50 to $100 is good.
If they’re a friend or close religious leader and are not charging you for their services, it’s a lovely gesture to tip them $100 to $200. Let the amount of time they’ve spent with you guide this, especially if you’ve done any kind of pre-martial counseling ahead of time.
For limos or bus services, a tip in the amount of 15 to 20% of the bill is pretty typical.
Delivery/Rental Setup Staff:
These people are not necessary to tip at all, but if they’ve gone above and beyond, or you especially appreciate their time, $5 to $10 per person is perfect.
This won’t be expected, but if you’ve received great service from them and would like to provide them with a tip, anything in the range of 10 to 15% of their cost is a wonderful way to say thank you.
For vendors like photography, videography, cake, and flowers they are providing an actual product, so it's not required or expected to provide a tip in these areas. You certainly can though if you’ve become close with these vendors, or they’ve gone above for your day with exceptional services and skills. Anything is always appreciated. $50 to $100 would be generous if you’d like to include them.
How to Hand Out Tips:
Usually, it’s best to assign a specific, trusted, person for this role on your wedding day. Your wedding planner is often the perfect person for this, or a family member or special friend.
Whoever you choose to take care of this, you’ll want to prepare everything in advance for them. Place each tip separately in a sealed envelope, with the vendor’s name clearly on it. You can give the envelopes to them at your rehearsal or the morning of your wedding to distribute throughout the day, as needed.
As much as you might want to give a gratuity to every single member of your wedding vendor team, let’s be honest – tipping wedding vendors just might not be possible if you're on a tight wedding budget.
Paying for a wedding is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll probably make. It’s HUGE and your wedding vendors know this better than anyone, trust me! We get it & understand if it’s not in the cards for your financial situation.
What can you do to show them some love? REVIEW THEM!!
A 5-star review is THE BEST way to say thank you.
Reviews are vitally important, especially in the wedding industry. Sharing how much you loved your vendors not only gives us the warm & fuzzies on the inside, but it also helps us grow our business and gain the trust of future couples.
Look up where to review them on Google, wedding websites like WeddingWire and The Knot, or Facebook. Comment on their social media posts about your wedding with how amazing they were and how much you love their services. Share their posts on your own profiles with a tag and some love in the caption. All of these ways help show the world how amazing they are and that they should hire them for their own events.
Sending a meaningful thank you note after the wedding is another touching way to show them how much you appreciated them. You can even include a small gift card for coffee, or a place they’ve mentioned they like, along with the note.
I’ve even received special gifts from couples that they’ve personalized or made themselves to say thank you. It’s the thought that means the most, without a doubt!
Helpful Additional Information:
You can tip less if the vendor owns the business you’ve hired. If it’s an employee who’s not an owner, you might consider tipping slightly more.
Consider tipping in increments that can easily be split up for vendors that have assistants, or give separate envelopes for each person or assistant with the amount you’d like them to have.
If tipping is something you know you’d like to do, make a plan to budget for it from the beginning.
When reviewing vendors across multiple platforms, feel free to cut and paste the same review. It’s completely acceptable to write one and use it for each site.
Great additional tipping resources I’ve found: The Bridal Guide, The Knot, & Jamie Wolfer on YouTube.
These recommendations are based on personal experience in the wedding industry in my North Central Florida area - your particular city, region, or culture may vary.
Check back next month for Step 10: The Home Stretch (wrapping up your wedding plans)
Until then, happy planning!