Beach Native ▪ Mom ▪ Coffee, Travel & Food Enthusiast ▪ Wedding Hype Woman
What and how to tip wedding vendors is one of the top questions our engaged couples ask us. We’re happy to answer those “taboo” questions with every degree of normalcy; it’s our job to discuss finances with sensitivity, care, and honesty without judgement or complications. Do note that this blog post is only applicable to weddings happening in the United States of America due to the unique structure of our gratuity system.
To make this as easy as possible, we’ve broken each vendor category into it’s own section with notes. Each section includes: expectations, amounts, and things to look for before handing over an envelope. As a bonus, we’ve created a quick and easy cheat sheet at the bottom of this post. If you’re short on time (congratulations to everyone reading this on their wedding day!), scroll straight to the bottom.
EXPECTED: Most couples tip 15% to 25% of the service fee.
WHEN: Assign someone in attendance at the “getting ready” portion of the day to gift the tip to the beauty team at the end service. If your attendants are tipping individually, it’s a good idea to have someone pool those tips and hand them over all at once.
SPECIAL NOTES: If you are covering costs for your loved ones and attendants to get their hair and makeup done, it is standard that you cover the tip for them as well. If they are paying individually, you will need to communicate with your attendants well in advance what the expectations are for tipping. Ideally, you’re still covering the tip for your attendants. However, if gratuity is up to their discretion, they’ll need to know when they agree to receive hair and makeup as a courtesy. If you’ve booked Amber Justine Events as your planning team, notes on tipping are something we add to your VIP wedding weekend information packet.
Finally, before you write that check or withdraw some cash, remember to check your beauty team’s contract(s). While it’s rare, some beauty companies apply gratuity for their team from your first invoice.
EXPECTED: If you are having a religious ceremony, it is standard to make a minimum $100 to $500 donation to the church, synagogue, or house of worship. For a non-religious or solo officiant that doesn’t operate from a house of worship, a $75 to $100 tip is appreciated. If your officiant is unable to accept tips, a small gift is a lovely gesture.
WHEN: For donations to houses of worship, you’ll want to share your gift during the planning process. For a non-religious or solo officiant, the ceremony rehearsal is a great place to pass along any gratuity or gifts. As with most vendors, you’re welcome to hand your tip envelopes or gifts to your wedding planner to distribute throughout the wedding weekend.
EXPECTED: Much like you’d tip waitstaff or bartenders in a restaurant, tipping your wedding day serving team is expected. The common formula for this tip is 15% to 20% of the food and beverage cost to be split among the wedding day team. To recap, this is NOT 15% to 20% of your total bill. Take a look at your proposal and calculate the tip from the cost of food and beverages only, removing labor charges, service fees, taxes, and rental costs. For bartenders, you can include them with the catering tip or break them out to 10% to 20% of the total pre-tax liquor bill.
WHEN: At the end of the reception. It’s best to give their tip to your wedding planner since your planner will be at the venue well after guests have gone and the catering team is loading out.
SPECIAL NOTES: Similar to your beauty team, it’s a good idea to check your catering proposal before assigning tips to your serving team. Some caterers apply gratuity for their team to the total cost.
If you’ve allowed your bartenders to place a tip jar on the bar, you can reduce the tip amount closer to or less than the 10% mark.
If you’d feel more comfortable giving your serving staff and bartenders individual cash tips, you or your wedding planner should reach out prior to your wedding to determine the number of staff that will work your wedding day. Head chefs and catering directors are given $50 to $150 while day-of servers are given $20 to $25.
Finally, if you’ve worked closely with a catering or venue director, usually in a hotel setting, and they’ve gone above and beyond, it’s a nice gesture to gift them a tip or gift separate from the lump sum given to the serving staff to distribute. This tip or gift is typically $100 to $300, at your discretion.
EXPECTED: The final gratuity in the “expected” column is transportation and other day-of attendants. Valet is at $2 to $4 per car while larger transportation services (coach busses, getaway cars, and passenger vans) are 15% to 20% of the final bill.
WHEN: To save your guests the hassle, we recommend calculating the number of cars a valet service might park and sharing a lump sum gratuity with the attendants at the beginning of their service. Add this in a note on your website so that guests can take that off of their plate. That being said, you can also have your guests tip valet at their discretion.
For transportation companies, we recommend sharing 15% to 20% of the final bill after they’ve completed the last guest drop-off. If you do not have a guest you can trust to share the gratuity at the end of service, we recommend giving the tip to your wedding planner to share with the driver when they arrive at the venue for the final pick-up.
SPECIAL NOTES: Other day-of attendants, such as restroom attendants or coat check attendants, should receive $1 to $2 per guest.
OPTIONAL: Our first vendor in the optional section is your rental delivery and assembly team. That being said, they are borderline optional to expected depending on the scope of your rentals. For example, we’ve seen some rental and lighting companies spend entire days in the hot summer sun making sure your tent and everything inside of it is up, secure, and looks stunning. They deserve it all for creating a venue out of nothing!
We recommend a minimum of $10 to $20 per person for delivery and set-up staff. Weddings with a larger scope of rentals that need to be set up – tents, tables, chairs, lighting, linens, etc. – should consider higher amounts for longer days spent making your wedding perfect.
WHEN: Upon delivery or at the completion of set-up.
OPTIONAL: While we are more than fine discussing gratuity for all other vendors, this category naturally feels strange to talk about with our couples, so we typically skip it entirely in discussions. For this one, we researched what other blogs and wedding websites say to give you an unbiased guide on wedding planner gratuity. If your planning team has gone above and beyond, it is a lovely gesture to gift 15% to 20% of their service fee or a small gift. Personally, our team never expects anything, but appreciates it each time couples think of us.
WHEN: At the end of the reception or after the honeymoon.
SPECIAL NOTES: If your planning team includes day-of assistants, it is an extra kindness to offer those assistants $25 to $50 each. At Amber Justine Events, we’ve always got two day-of assistants at every wedding!
OPTIONAL: If you think your entertainment has done an incredible job leading up to and/or at your wedding day festivities, consider gratuity! The breakdown is $15 to $25 per ceremony musician, $25 to $50 per band member, and $50 to $150 per DJ.
WHEN: At the end of their performance. This is another one that is good to hand off to a wedding planner that will be staying through load out! If you’ve got a live band, your wedding planner is already handing them their final check, so it only makes sense.
SPECIAL NOTES: If your entertainment services include a photo booth, it’s polite to gift $25 to $100 to the attendant, depending on the scope of your guest list and the level of the attendant’s involvement in the activity.
OPTIONAL: For florists that have gone above and beyond, we recommend 10% to 20% of the floral cost, $50 to $200, or a personal gift.
WHEN: During set-up or after the honeymoon.
OPTIONAL: For the photographers and videographers that have become your besties, we recommend $50 to $200 or a personal gift.
WHEN: On the wedding day or after receiving your final gallery/video.
OPTIONAL: While not part of the wedding day itself, we don’t want to leave out the people that helped you look fashionable! For your favorite tailors or dress designer, we recommend a minimum of $25 and/or a professional photograph of you in your attire.
WHEN: At your final fitting or after your wedding day.
OPTIONAL: For our beloved calligraphers, stationery designers, and bakers, we recommend a $25 to $50 tip or a small gift for services that exceeded your expectations. These vendors are tipped the least, but do just as much work as some of the other more frequently tipped vendors!
WHEN: At delivery or the completion of service.
We know wedding expenses quickly add up and you may not have it in the budget to tip all of your vendors. That’s ok! There are so many ways to show your appreciation beyond gratuity and gifts. Here are some low cost to free gifts that vendors love:
We hope this was helpful! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions!
Photography Credits: Carrie Michelle Photography
To see more from this collection of photos as well as all the vendor credits, visit this post on our blog.