The 411 on Wedding Vendor Gratuity: Who Should You Tip & How Much?
Rule of Thumb: Tips are always appreciated, sometimes expected, but never “required.”
A few general guidelines before we get into specifics for each vendor:
For many vendors, it is considered proper wedding etiquette to give them a tip for their services. For all vendors, it is a way for you to say “thank you” to a vendor who went above and beyond, solved a lot of problems, gave you a discount on your package, etc. We'll call this "Exceptional Service" & we'll give some examples of what that means in just a moment!
Certain vendors sometimes include a tip in their contract (caterers, bartenders, deliveries, transportation, in particular). Some specifically note that tips are NOT included in the cost listed in your contract, & others do not mention tips at all. Check for this, before you decide.
For certain vendors, you can choose to send them a thank you gift, including a thank you card, instead of or alongside of a cash or check tip. (We've definitely straight up cried opening a thank you gift post wedding day. True story.)
An extremely meaningful gesture (whether you are tipping a vendor or not) is for you to leave a review for your vendors after your wedding, and for you to recommend them to your friends. This is incredibly helpful and extremely appreciated, whether you are tipping your vendor or not. Word of mouth is so essential in the wedding world.
Here's the tea! Your wedding vendor team works HARD. They put in hours & hours of work, typically literal blood, sweat, & tears. Much of their hard work & passion, you might see, but my goodness we promise that they do SO much more than you see too. 99% of the time you may not know half the things done behind the scenes by all of the different members of your wedding team to make your day perfect.
Wedding vendor gratuity is a way to say thank you for their doing an amazing job, but more than that for choosing to put a good bit of their heart & soul into making your wedding day everything that you want it to be.
What do we mean by this? And what do we mean by "Exceptional Service"?
Consider these questions:
1) Were they available & accommodating to your questions?
2) Was your wedding day & wedding planning process less stressful because they were a part of your day?
3) Did they make your wedding day more enjoyable for you & your guests?
4) Could you count on them?
Photo by Keely Askew Photography
A 10-20% tip is appreciated.
Other ways to consider the ways your florist might have gone above & beyond: Did they help you find alternatives & solutions to florals you liked that may not have been in season? Were they able to accommodate last minute changes in order or last minute requests? Did they spend extra time helping you find the perfect florals, colors, & design for you? Did they give you recommendations for vendors or answer questions unrelated to florals that might have come up or that you asked?
Hair & Make-Up Artists:
The appropriate amount for the gratuity for your Hair and Make-Up artist is really the same amount that you would tip at your salon, somewhere around 15-20%.
Tips for Hair & Make Up artists are one of the exceptions to point one (above). Even if they are not employees of a company (aka they own their HMU company), it is still common practice to tip them & we would encourage you to always do so!
10-15% is appreciated.
If your DJ/MC went above and beyond, accommodated a lot of special requests, had to move a lot of equipment (especially if your venue includes a lot of stairs, etc., making this more difficult), made potentially awkward situations comfortable, got even the guest you KNEW wouldn't dance breaking it down on the dance floor, & generally made sure everyone had the best time ever, then this sounds like "exceptional service" to us and a tip would be appropriate and appreciated!
If it is not included in the contract, 15-20% would be appreciated.
Caterer, Wait Staff, and Bartender:
If it is not included in the contract, then $50-$100 for each chef, and $25-$50 for each server/bartender is appropriate, if a tip is not already included in your contract(s).
Around $25-$75 each is a great "thank you"!
If you feel that they went above and beyond in their service, gave you a discounted price, accommodated a lot of special requests, etc. then a tip of 10-20% is a going to be a perfect way to express that appreciation for all their extra effort.
Typically, your baker, furniture rentals, etc. will hire staff to handle the delivery of such items. In these cases, a tip of $10-$20 is appreciated.
A donation to the church of the officiant, or a tip of around $100, depending on the size of the ceremony.
We can't tell you how many times we'll be asked specifically about officiants with a question along these lines: "My officiant says they'll do it for free, but I want to give them something for a thank you - how much is appropriate?" Great question! $100-$200 is a great "thank you" for their time & a wonderful gesture of appreciation for their impact in your life. If they seem that they'd be uncomfortable accepting the money, consider giving it to them as a donation to their church, if they are affiliated with a church. In this circumstance, you can also consider asking your wedding planner to hand this gratuity to them for you instead, removing that potential awkwardness.
If you feel that they went above and beyond in their service, stayed late, came early, etc. then we would suggest a tip of 10-20% as a way to say "thank you."
If they have an assistant/second shooter, then consider an amount of $50-$75 for them.
Other ways they might have gone above & beyond for you! Were they extremely responsive to questions? Did they care to get to know you ahead of time? Did they make your family/wedding party, etc. feel comfortable & natural in front of the camera? Did they have fun prompts that everyone enjoyed? Did they reduce stress? Could you count on them? Did they give you vendor recommendations & answer wedding questions unrelated to photography/videography that might have come up or that you asked? Well, folks, an answer or answers of "yes" to these questions definitely checks the mark for "exceptional service"!
And last but not least, what if you want some other ways to thank your wedding day team?
1) Consider having a guest table -just like the tables for all your wedding guests- specifically for your wedding vendors!
2) Reviews, reviews, reviews. Facebook. Google. Yelp. Wedding Websites, etc. etc. etc.
3) Thank you cards! Ngl, we're 90% sure that most wedding vendors love language is words of affirmation. Send them a note thanking them for all they did.
4) Referrals! Tell your friends.
5) Be a social media ally! Comment on their posts, interact, share. And make sure to tag in all your wedding day posts! You could even consider a post just to say thank you to them!
Photos by April B Photography
Wondering how much or if you should tip a vendor we didn't specifically mention? Drop a comment & we'd love to help!