If my Facebook newsfeed is any indication - I would say it's officially wedding season! As a wedding coordinator for Hello Productions, this means that my days start to get a little busier and at Yes, Wear That! I will start to bring you more wedding and event-related posts! While the last thing engaged couples want to hear is that there's more money to be handed out, tipping your vendors is something important to consider. Once we are about a month out from the wedding date, I always go over tipping etiquette and guidelines with my wedding clients. Lucky for you - you didn't even have to hire me - I am going to share some "tips for tipping" to take the stress out of your big day!
1. It's important to keep in mind that tipping is not required. The decision to tip is ultimately an expression of your gratitude and should be based on the level of service that has been provided. If your hair stylist re-did one of the bridesmaid's up-dos five times - or the DJ kept an intoxicated groomsmen from "giving one more toast," then you should probably consider tipping these people or tipping them more than the standard amount. However, most wedding pros (minus the catering staff and perhaps the venue) do not expect a tip and will be flattered and genuinely thankfully if one is given.
2. When and how do you deliver the tips? I'll first say, this is one (of many times) a "day-of" wedding coordinator comes in handy as we will deliver the tips for you. However, if you have opted to not hire a planner, assign a parent or trusted member of the bridal party to handle the task. I advise that tips be cash and placed in envelopes before the ceremony. I generally will take any envelopes from couples the night of the rehearsal and then distribute them to the appropriate vendors on the wedding day.
3. Tipping an officiant can be a bit confusing. Different wedding websites will give you varying information. However, there are a few general guidelines. If you are getting married in a church or synagogue that you are a member of, then you'll often make a donation to the church ranging from $100 to $500. How active you are in the church comes into play when deciding the amount. A non-denominational officiant will typically receive a $50 - $100 tip. Keep in mind, if a civil employee (judge, clerk, etc.) is performing the ceremony, they are typically paid a flat rate and usually are not permitted to accept tips. Instead consider a hand-written card or a few cupcakes from your stockpile of reception desserts.
4. Another guideline to remember is that you don't need to tip business owners if it's a larger company that employs say several photographers or djs. However, you do want to consider tipping the photographer or dj that is working exclusively with you and their assistants. Various articles that I have read mention not tipping business owners, but I think again, you need to consider how closely you worked with the owner. In general, business owners know what their services are worth and have already set their prices and fees accordingly. One exception might be if a business owner has given you a large discount on services, then a tip may be appropriate to show your gratitude.
5. Read your contracts, so you don't double tip. Many reception facilities and caterers include a gratuity in their contracts. This most likely will show up as a service charge in the contract. If the tip is not included, consider somewhere between 10 - 20% of the total bar and food bill. This money is dispersed between banquet managers, chefs, waiters, bartenders, and kitchen staff. You can also opt for a flat amount - $100 - $200 for banquet manager, $50 for chefs, and $20 - $30 for waiters and kitchen staff.
6. Asking your guests to tip is tacky. This goes for the bar, coat check, and valet. The last thing you want is a tip jar sitting out on the bar. Make sure you take care of bartenders, coat check attendants, and valet parking attendants. Also, ensure that these people understand that you will be doing the tipping and they should not be asking for or accepting tips from your guests. If you are not giving a percentage to the facilities as outlined in tip #5, then bartenders will typically receive $20 - 25 per bartender. Coat check attendees should get $0.50 - $1 per guest and parking attendees $1 - $2 per car.
7. Music is one of the key ingredients in the day, so you will probably feel inclined to tip your dj and musicians. For djs, $50 - $100 is standard. If you have musicians during the ceremony or reception, $20 - $25 is customary. You don't necessarily have to tip a band (think the "business owner" guideline mentioned in #4). Bands know what they are worth and charge accordingly. However, once again, an awesome band can absolutely make the entire wedding - so if they did an outstanding job, you probably want to show your gratitude.
8. Here are some final guidelines for your reference: If you do decide to tip the photographer or videographer, $50 - $100 is standard. Be careful with wedding transportation because these companies sometimes include gratuity in the contract. If they do not, 15 - 20% of your total transportation bill is a fair amount for your limo and shuttle drivers. Florists don't expect a tip, but if you feel they brought your Pinterest dreams to reality, then go ahead and gift them 15%. If you want to tip the delivery people bringing items to the reception site, $5 - $15 is appropriate. This sometimes becomes tricky though as the bride and groom are typically not around when things are being delivered. Hair and make-up professionals should always receive a tip - 20% is standard in the industry, but use your best discretion.
9. Do you tip your wedding planner? Obviously I want to answer "Yes, tip them 50%!," but obviously that is not reality. I can say from experience that sometimes I receive tips and other times I do not. And as I mentioned earlier, it's 100% not expected and I certainly do not think of my clients any differently based on whether or not they tip. In fact, a kind hand written thank-you or a positive review can mean much more than a monetary tip (I'll cover more in tip #10). If you truly believe that you couldn't have done it without your amazing wedding planner, then $50 - $100 is a generous expression of appreciation.
10. Who knew there were so many things to consider about tipping?! My last "tip on tipping" goes along with what I mentioned above. Often times for wedding professionals, a positive, sincere review on sites like the Knot, Wedding Wire, or social media platforms means more than a monetary tip. Those of us in the industry use these reviews and positive referrals as a key part of growing our business and attracting new clients. And let's be honest - a new paying client is worth more than a 10% tip. I am a fairly sentimental person, so a heartfelt thank-you note also goes a long way in my book. Another great idea to consider is to offer up a few of your professional photos for the florist, baker, or wedding planner to use in their portfolios. Just a note though - make sure you check with your photographer before doing this. There are often guidelines around how the photos can be used and obviously your photographer wants the proper credit.
Hopefully these guidelines will get you pointed in the right direction! If you are planning a wedding or event in Pittsburgh and want to learn more about planning services, please e-mail me at email@example.com or check out the Hello Productions website! Cheers to the start of another wonderful wedding season!