We get the tipping question often from brides or their moms about one week before the wedding as they are making their final payment arrangements so we felt it high time we address it here on the blog! We've rounded up the best "tipping tips" from A Practical Wedding and Bride's to give you some help...
Tipping Means Gratitude
Tipping is called a gratuity because it is exactly that—money that conveys your gratitude for a service rendered. It would be nice if we could adhere to just that rule and only tip people who went above and beyond their jobs, but it’s not quite that simple. In most states, wage laws let business owners take advantage of the social mores and lower their employees’ pay in order to compensate for their earned tips. The amount varies, but if you are being serviced by someone who is considered a “tipped worker” (bartenders, waitstaff) in one of those states, they are most likely making less than minimum wage because their employer knows you will tip them… and tip them, you should.
But how does this apply to weddings? Well, that’s up to you. Tipping in wedding land is optional and something that should be done for a job well done.
Who To Tip
First, check your contracts. Some contracts will state that a mandatory gratuity is included in your fees. You can cross those people off your further-tipping list, unless they do something amazing that you feel deserves a little extra. This is also the time to consider people you might not think of tipping, like your officiant or day-of coordinator for your venue. Find out if a tip is appropriate; they may not be allowed to accept tips or it may need to be in the form of a donation to the organization they represent. Then go down your list of vendors and figure out who you’ll be tipping and how much you need to budget for.
How To Tip
Consider a modest tip to anyone you would consider tipping in an everyday situation: servers, valets, bartenders. You can divvy up the amount and give each person their own envelope, or you can give a set amount to the person in charge and request that they distribute it among their staff. If you are unsure, ask whomever is managing them how best to handle it. Give your tips in cash and consider (but don’t kill yourself over) including a small thank you note with it. Delegate someone to hand them out. (Fun fact! This is a traditional Best Man responsibility!)
Business Owners vs. Staff
The rule of thumb with business owners is that they don’t have to get tipped because they set their own rates. The idea is that, as a business owner, you set a price that you expect to be paid, and you control the price (i.e., you should build in your own tip). People who don’t own a business are not setting their price, so it’s nice to give them a little extra. That being said, if you love them, feel free to tip them. A tip doesn't have to be monetary, either. The self-employed caterer who made your wedding barbecue may not expect a tip, but the thank you note with a few shots of her work by your photographer for her portfolio will be welcomed.
The Best Tip: Referrals and Awesome Reviews
Know what your vendor will welcome even more than a tip? Public praise. More business. A personal thank you.
Consider sending them a thoughtful email that they can use in their testimonials, a review in a online forum like Yelp, keeping their business cards on hand to pass out to friends. And consider sending a Thank You card with a handwritten note inside. Seriously. You’ll make their day.
Final sum up: there are no clear rules, so use your best judgement and go with your gut. And if you love your vendors tell them that (and tell you friends, too).
Keep these guidelines in mind when shelling out those tips:
OFFICIANT: $75 to $100 for a clergy member. (It's a donation to the house of worship.) A civil employee, such as a judge or clerk, often can't accept a tip. The best man offers the tip after the ceremony.
CEREMONY MUSICIANS: $20 to $25 each, unless tips are included in a house of worship's rental fee. The best man offers the tips after the ceremony.
ALTAR BOYS AND GIRLS: $5 to $10 each. The best man offers the tips to the kids after the ceremony.
DELIVERY PEOPLE (flowers, rentals, cake): $5 to $25 each, depending on the time and toil. Whoever (Mom, planner) is supervising wedding-day deliveries offers the tips on the spot.
WAITSTAFF: 15 to 20 percent of the total catering bill, to be split among the waiters, if a gratuity is not included in the contract. The host offers the tip at the reception's end.
BARTENDERS: 10 percent of the total liquor bill, to be split among the bar staff, if a gratuity is not included in the contract. The host offers the tip at the reception's end.
DJ OR BAND: $50 to $100 for a DJ, or $20 to $25 for each band member, if they work for an agency; no tip if they're self-employed. The host offers the tip at the reception's end.
PHOTOGRAPHER AND VIDEOGRAPHER: $50 to $100, if they're working for a studio; no tip if they're self-employed. The host offers the tip at the reception's end.
INDEPENDENT WEDDING PLANNER: None expected. But if your planner went out of her way, you can thank her with cash, depending on your budget, or a gift sent after the wedding.
LIMO OR BUS DRIVER:15 to 20 percent of the total bill, if a gratuity is not included in the contract. The host offers the tip after the final drop-off.
HAIRSTYLISTS AND MAKEUP ARTISTS: 15 to 20 percent of the total bill, if you go to a salon; at your discretion if they come to you.
—Barrie Gillies, BRIDES magazine