Who to tip and how much.
Knowing who of your wedding vendors you should tip and how much is a delicate matter. Each individual works so hard and often goes beyond expectations to make your day the best it can be. Having worked in and being married to someone in the service industry, I know it can be a touchy situation to navigate. However, it is important to show gratitude when you are happy with the service you have received. We've done some research so that you can be informed for your wedding. We have of course consulted Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette and we've also interviewed a favorite wedding planner of ours Vikki Marsee, who is one half of All You Need Is Love Events.
APB: How long have you been in the wedding/event planning industry? How did you get into it? What drew you to it? What is your favorite part?
VM: "We started our company at the end of 2009 and had our first wedding in 2010. We started it out of a love for events and specifically weddings. Everyone loves a good wedding – a time when family and friends came together to celebrate the union of a couple and the entire day is centered around love. It is truly a very special occasion that we always feel honored to be a part of. We love every part of this process – meeting the couple for the first time, hearing their vision and their dreams, and doing our part to make that become a reality. We love the details of planning, working with other incredible vendors in the industry to create something beautiful, and of course, we love the wedding day. We love seeing the bride getting ready, the look on the groom’s face when she walks down the aisle, and we love exceeding all expectations on their day. It’s a passion for perfection and a lot of hard work that makes this job so fulfilling."
ABP: When it comes to tipping your wedding vendors, what are some common misconceptions or faux pas that come to mind?
VM: "I would say a faux pas that comes to mind is asking the vendor if they require or expect a tip. I think it puts the vendor in a very sticky situation and it’s difficult to answer that question professionally. Another misconception would be not to tip a business owner. I think all professionals appreciate a tip if they have gone above and beyond the service, no matter if they own or work for the business."
ABP: Are there any general rules you tend to adhere to?
VM: The most general rule that we adhere to is that tipping is not required for most vendors and it’s always appreciated but never expected. They are expressions of appreciation and gratitude. And furthermore, these are simply our suggestions, but giving more or less is completely up to the host of the event.
ABP: The same questions applies to all of the below: Should they be tipped and how much? When should the tip be delivered. For some of these, such as the professional services, would a thank you note and gift be sufficient?
Ceremony officiants and musicians:
VM: For officiants, this one really varies. If you’re marrying in a house of worship, donations are usually accepted and we usually recommend anywhere between $100 - $500, depending on how active a member you are. For a nondenominational officiant, whom you are already paying a fee, tip between $50 and $100. Some court clerks are prohibited from accepting tips, so therefore a nice thank you note and gift would be sufficient. Many of our clients also have their friends officiate the wedding and in that case, a nice gift would be appropriate.
For ceremony musicians, we usually say 10 – 15% of the fee split between the musicians.
Reception musicians or DJ:
VM: For a band, usually $50 per band member is recommended. For a DJ, 10% of their overall fee.
Reception venue staff and catering staff:
VM: Sometimes this is built into the fee as a Service Charge, so we always suggest checking your contract first. If it’s not included, $20 per service staff is suggested.
VM: 10 – 15% of overall fee split between all drivers
Professional services: wedding planner, florist, photographer videographer, and reception manager
VM: This is sometimes where a gift and a nice note is more common then anywhere else. However, again, we always say the amount you tip each of these vendors is based on the level of service you receive. We always recommend tipping those that have gone above and beyond their services and this can be anywhere from $50 - $100 each to 10% of the overall bill which can be $1000 - $1500. A tip like this would not be uncommon if it is a larger event.
Vikki's insights are so helpful as she is on site at weddings year round helping her own clients through these very questions! A few important additions from Emily Post are 1) bartenders: you should tip that as a group, 10 % of the total liquor bill. 2) If there is a chef onsite you should tip them $100 or more and 3) the maitre d or headwaiter 1-3 percent of the contracted food and beverage price.
Emily Post also adds that for the officiant and ceremony musicians, all fees and tips should be delivered right after the ceremony, prepared in label envelopes and a short note of thanks. The same applies to the reception manager or maitre d' and other service staff after the reception.
As always, you should check your contract beforehand to see if there is any tip included.
We hope this clears up some misconceptions and helps you avoid putting your vendors in awkward positions!
Illustrations by Hanna Snyder