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Tips on Tipping

Tips and gratuities are often overlooked during the planning of a wedding. While most vendors will not expect tips, it's surely a nice gesture of thanks. Of course, you always have the option to decide not to, but if you're interested in rewarding exceptional service, here are some rules of thumb and suggestions when it comes to wedding gratuity etiquette.
  1. Each gratuity should be presented at the end of the evening or upon delivery of services.
  2. If you've hired a wedding coordinator, provide him/her with individual sealed envelopes ahead of time for the vendors you'd like to tip. If you haven't hired a consultant, pass this task on to the Best Man. (Special Note: Even if you have a wedding coordinator, the honorariums/gratuity for the officiant should always be presented by the Best Man)
  3. Refrain from sitting a "tip jar" at the bar or out at valet service (something that truly makes me cringe). Instead, be sure to inform the bartender that you will make arrangements for taking care of the gratuity and post a sign to guests that "tips have been taken care of by the bride and groom."
Officiant: (protocol - expected)
There may be laws or rules prohibiting your officiant from accepting tips depending on his/her position (clergy member, judge, etc). If not, plan to donate $500+ to the institution (church or synagogue) or present 15-20% of their fee.

Wait Staff and Food Service Employees: (protocol - varies)
Usually banquet halls include this fee in their service contracts. If not, plan to present 15-22% of the total bill (which would be split among the maitre d', catering manager, banquet captain, chefs, bakers, bartenders and anyone else assisting with the culinary side of your event).

Hair Stylist and Make Up Artist: (protocol - expected)
Plan to present 15-20% whether you go to the salon or the stylists come to you.

Valet: (protocol - expected)
Be sure the valet is asked to graciously decline tips from your guests. At the end of the evening, plan to present $1-3 per vehicle.

Chauffeurs: (protocol - expected)
Plan to present 15-20% of the total bill to your driver or attendant.

Musicians and DJs: (protocol - optional, yet preferred)
Plan to present 15-20% of the total fee or $20 per musician / $50 - $150 for DJs

Photographers and Videographers: (protocol - optional)
If your shooter is the owner of the company, tipping him/her is unnecessary. If your shooter isn't the owner of the company, it's definitely a nice gesture to consider. Plan to present 10-15% of their total fee.

Delivery Staff: (protocol - expected)
If you’d like to tip the people who deliver your rental items, flowers, cake, etc., plan to present $5-$10 each.

Wedding Planner: (protocol - not expected)
10-15% of the consultant’s fee is a lovely gesture of thanks, although most consultants will not expect this. It's totally up to you, but a non-monetary thank-you like professional photos of the wedding for his/her portfolio would be just as awesome.

* * * * * * *

All-in-all, the best way to thank your wedding service providers is not monetary, but rather by sending future referrals. Word-of-mouth is priceless in the wedding industry and spreading some positive thoughts about your vendors is the best way to show your gratitude.

(photo courtesy of The White Aisle, Damask Letterpress Thank You Notes)


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