Vendor tipping is a tricky topic I get asked about all the time. Weddings are so expensive, factoring in an extra couple grand to tip the various vendors the day of seems like a twist of the knife, and it’s hard to know these norms. Further more, you don’t want to know these norms, because if you don’t know them, then do you really have to adhere to them? Of course it’s not required, but tipping many vendors is a standard practice. Here is what I recommend when couples come to me with this question.
Generally speaking caterers are the vendor most likely to have gratuity built in to their price. Check your contract to see if there is an 15% - 20% gratuity. If there is, nothing more is necessary, if not, you can factor in tipping 15% - 20% on the day of, or alternatively, you can find out how many staff they are brining and tip by individual, which may be more economical, generally about $100 for catering managers, $50 for chefs and bakers and $20 - $30 for wait staff.
If your officiant if a priest, pastor or rabbi, you can consider donating $50 - $100 to the church in addition to your fee. If you have a personal relationship with the officiant, then something a little more personal could be nice, for example a local restaurant gift card. Finally, if using a judge or civil clerk, then it's okay to forego a gratuity.
Some contracts may include a gratuity for musicians, be sure to check for a "service charge," in which case an additional gratuity is not necessary. If not included, a small gratuity of $25 for each member or the band or for a DJ is a fine amount.
MAKE-UP & HAIR STYLISTS
Tip hair and make-up artists as you would a regular appointment, 15 - 20%. Assistants who wash or dry your hair should be tipped $3 - $5.
PHOTOGRAPHERS, VIDEOGRAPHERS, WEDDING COORDINATORS AND FLORISTS
If your vendors own their own business, it's not necessary to tip them. However, if the staff onsite does not own their own business tipping $30 - $50 is a reasonable amount for photographers, videographers and florists and $50 - $100 for wedding coordinators.
You can give coat check attendants $1 - $2 per guest, powder room attendants, $.50 - $1 and valet $1 - $1.50 per car.
DRIVERS & DELIVERY STAFF
It is customary to tip limo drivers 15-20%, check the contract to see if gratuity is included. Delivery persons can be tipped $5 each.
A few additional general tips and rules of thumb: any vendor that exceeds your expectations or goes above and beyond, you can thank with a tip. Have gratuities prepared before hand, labeled and ready to go in envelopes. This will make it easy and smooth and if you are comfortable can hand off distribution to your coordinator.
photo: Kathy Davies Photography