Tipping etiquette at a wedding is a common area of confusion. Although we tip service providers in everyday life when it comes to your wedding day, the thought of to whom and how much to tip can be bewildering. Tipping is supposed to be voluntary, yet service providers do expect tips nowadays.
Traditional wedding custom is to tip a wedding supplier if you think that they did a great job, or provided you with outstanding service. Tipping should be based on the quality of service provided to you on your wedding day and in the run up to your wedding. By tipping them you are letting them know that you are happy with the service they provided you with prior to and/or on your wedding day. If you appreciate the work that they have done for you, then you can show your appreciation by tipping them.
Gratuities, however, are almost always added into the final bill, especially with catering companies or hotel facilities. If the gratuity has already been included, it is not necessary to tip in addition to this amount unless you feel the service provided exceeded expectations.
Here are some etiquette tips for specific vendors:
Bartenders – Usually you will find that the bar manager will add a service charge to the bar bill. If this is not the case then you might want to tip the bartenders 10% of the total amount of the liquor bill. This amount can be shared out between them equally if there is more than one bartender.
Catering/Venue Manager – Traditionally the caterers and venue management will calculate a tip into their cost estimate, in the form of a service charge. Check your paperwork and if in fact a service charge has not been included then you should allow 15% – 20% of the total bill or $1 – $2 per guest.
Church Musician – This fee is usually included in the rental fee for the church. You should check your paperwork and if this is not the case you should tip them between $25 – $40 per person.
Delivery Staff (including Florist, Bakers etc.) - Staff responsible for your flowers and wedding cake do not expect to receive a tip. You will have agreed to pay their set fee and that is sufficient. However if you feel that they have provided you with exceptional service and/or outstanding quality of products then a tip of $15 – $20 per person is adequate.
DJ – As with the musicians, if you consider the DJ’s performance to have made your wedding reception a great party, then a tip in the range of 15% – 20% of their fee is appropriate.
Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Beautician – You should expect to tip these service providers just as you would on a normal visit to a salon. Tips should be 15% – 20% of your total bill.
Musicians – Live musicians do not expect to receive a tip but if you consider their performance at your reception to be exceptional and worthy of a tip then you should allow $20 – $25 per band member.
Officiant (Clergy, Priest, Minister etc) – Although officiants do not usually ask for financial recompense for their services they often ask that you to make a donation to the church or their organization. As to the amount of the donation, traditionally they will suggest an amount when you finalize arrangements with them. The amount varies from a flat fee to an honorarium and can range from $50 up to $500. If you are expecting the officiant to travel outside of their local area then you should also compensate them for their travel costs. The nominated tip giver should pass the agreed amount to the officiant after the ceremony. If you are using the services of a civil servant, such as a judge, Justice of the Peace or a City Clerk, then you are allowed to give them a donation, provided you do not exceed $75 and you must ensure that it is paid to them outside of court hours.
Photographers – Whilst most photographers do not expect a tip if you want to reward them for their good work on your wedding day then this should be between $20 – $30. Alternatively you can indicate your satisfaction with the photographer’s work by placing a large order for additional prints – they will always greatly appreciate that.
Seamstress/dress fitter – Although it is not customary to tip your seamstress or dress fitter if you feel that they have made an extra special effort on your behalf then tip them between $15 – $30.
Transportation (chauffeurs, limousine drivers, horse-drawn carriages, etc) – Do check to see if a gratuity has been included in their bill as this is often the case with transportation fees for weddings. If not or if you want to reward them for their service on your wedding day then the norm is to tip them 15%-20% of the total cost of the bill.
Valets and Parking Attendants - Tips should range from $1 – $2 per car.
Waiters and waitresses – It is not necessary to tip the servers if you have already paid a gratuity in your contracted price. Check to ensure whether a service charge is included in the caterer’s contract. If there is no such provision then you should expect to tip 15% – 20% of the total food bill. Although it is not expected for you to tip individual serving staff if you decide that a particular individual has provided you with first-class service then feel free to give that server an additional tip.
Wedding Planner – If you want to show them how grateful you are for their hard work in planning your wedding then 10-15% of their total fee is more than adequate.
NOTE: Traditionally it is the Best Man’s duty to take care of tips on your behalf on your actual wedding day. If they are unwilling or unable to accept this responsibility then nominate one person who you feel comfortable with and who is happy to handle this task. This person should be responsible for distributing the tips amongst your wedding suppliers. To make it easier for the nominated tip distributor you should label envelopes prior to the wedding day and pass them to the nominated person to keep safe and hand out at the relevant times throughout your wedding day. By labeling them you will ensure that the correct amount of tip goes to the correct supplier. Always provide the nominated tipper with a contingency fund envelope containing a bit of extra cash just in case you have forgotten someone important who you feel deserves a tip on your wedding day or you might decide to tip someone a bit extra on the actual day.