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Tipping Your Wedding Vendors: A Comprehensive Gratuity Guide for Your Special Day

As wedding seasons gets into full swing, so many of couples are wondering what they should tip their vendors? With weddings being huge investments already, I always want couples to feel like they are educated and prepared for tipping their vendors!

A few things before we dive in:

1. First take a good, hard look at your wedding contracts. Read through them to see if a gratuity is included. It's pretty standard for it to be covered in your venue, catering, and even transportation contracts. When it is, no additional tipping is required or expected.

2. A "service charge" is not necessarily a gratuity. Whyyy are contracts so confusing? Okay, here's the deal: A "service charge" is a mandatory fee that gets added to your venue and/or catering contract. Service charges don't necessarily go directly to employees, so you'll need to ask how that money is being used. This extra fee can be applied to anything from venue maintenance to administrative costs, so unless you see the word "gratuity" spelled out on your final bill, a tip may no be included in the final cost.

3. Prep tips in advance. On the Monday or Tuesday of your wedding (don't leave this to Friday before the rehearsal), go to the bank, pull out cash, and put each tip into a labeled envelope. Then bring them to us at your rehearsal so we can hand them out over the course of the wedding. Many vendors prefer cash, it it is the easiest way for you to provide a tip. Things like a check in the mail or Venmo/Zelle are great, but do you want to worry about tipping your vendors after the wedding is over and you're coming down from it all? Probably not.

4. And finally, unless it's built into your contract, tipping is never mandatory. If you simply don't have funds to spare, you can express your appreciation in other ways. Write your vendors a rave 5-star review online, let them use some stunning photos from your wedding for their portfolio, give them a big bottle of wine, or send them a handwritten thank-you note. They will appreciate any acknowledgment of the time and care they put into your wedding day!

Here's a breakdown of tipping etiquette for some of the most common wedding vendors:

1. Photographer/Videographer:

- Tipping: Consider tipping $100-350 per photographer/videographer, especially if they go above and beyond or provide additional services such as extra hours or editing.

- Exceptional Service: If your photographer/videographer has made the planning process easier (i.e. provided photo/video guides, helpful resources, suggestions for timing and photo groupings, etc.) and made you excited about being in front of the camera, consider showing your appreciation with gratuity.

2. Catering Staff:

- Tipping: A gratuity of 15-25% of the food and beverage total is customary for catering staff, unless it's included in the contract as a service charge. You do not need to tip on top of labor, staffing, administrative fees + taxes, or rentals!

- Timing: If the gratuity is not included in the contract, arrange to tip the catering staff on the day of the event, preferably in cash, to distribute among the team.

3. Hair and Makeup Artists:

- Tipping: Many hair and makeup artists will build in a 20% gratuity into the contract. If they don't, consider tipping 20-25% on the total cost of services for the artists to split amongst themselves day-of. If ladies are paying for services individually, encourage them to tip their individual artist with cash after their service.

- Trials: If you had a trial session before the wedding, consider tipping a smaller amount at the time of the trial or including it in the final gratuity.

4. DJ/Band:

- Tipping: For ceremony musicians (strings, pianists, percussionist, etc.) consider tipping $20-40/per musician. For live bands, a $40-50 tip per musician is greatly appreciated. If you're having a DJ for the dance party, $50-$150.

- Requests: If your DJ or band accommodates special requests or learns specific songs for your special dances, consider a higher tip to recognize their flexibility and professionalism.

5. Transportation:

- Tipping: Gratuity is almost always included in shuttle costs. Check your invoice or itinerary to make sure it's included.

6. Rental Delivery + Installs:

   - Tipping: If you're renting large furniture items (tables, chairs, bars, lounge setups, etc.) a tip of $20-$50 for the delivery and pick up team is always appreciated! These folks often get forgotten when it comes to gratuity, and they're the ones doing most of the heavy lifting!

7. Officiant:

   - Tipping: Church or synagogue: up to $500 donation ($50 - 100, if you’re being charged to use the space)

Non-denominational officiant: $50 – 100 Friend: we'll leave this one up to you ;)

8. Florals:

   - Tipping: While it is never expected, florists greatly appreciate a sign of appreciation for their hard work and creativity. Florists have a very labor intensive job that starts days before the wedding and often extends a few days after the wedding is over. If your florist has been extra thoughtful and creative (and stays on-site for repurposing or styling) consider tipping $50-200.

Consider tipping any vendor, sales representative, business owner, etc. who has made your wedding planing process go smoothly, left you feeling stress free on your wedding day, or been a pleasure to work with!

As you plan your wedding budget, remember to include gratuity for your vendors into your overall budget, so you're not left feeling like you need to come up with more money just days before the wedding!


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