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Wediquette Wednesday: To tip or not to tip

As wedding season approaches, many brides are working on making final payments and trying to stay within their budget. There is one thing that a lot of couples forget about – tips. I get a lot of phone calls the week of the wedding with people asking about who and how much they should tip. While there are no hard and fast rules for how to tip your vendors, there are general guidelines that can help.

Tipping shouldn’t even be considered a requirement. Just remember that. When you tip someone, it is supposed to be a reward for a job well done. It is called gratuity because you are showing your gratitude for good service. There are places where tipping is expected, but it is never a requirement. A restaurant is a perfect example. If you enjoyed your meal and had good service, would you ever consider walking away without leaving a little something for your server? I didn’t think so.

Who should I tip?

1. First things first, make sure the gratuity isn’t included in the contract already. Most catering companies or limo companies will address this in the contracts. Some don’t, so it is important to know what is in the contract to avoid double tipping.

2. Typically, the owner of a company is not tipped. For example, if your DJ is the owner of the company, then you don’t necessarily need to tip them. However, you can tip if the person performing at your wedding is an employee of a larger company because they are generally getting a smaller amount than the owner would.

3. Check policies on tipping certain vendors. Some civil servants and officiants are not allowed to accept cash tips. If tips are not allowed, a small gift showing your gratitude would be acceptable. Think yummy homemade brownies or consider making a small donation in their name to their congregation or another charity.

How much should I tip?

Honestly, you should tip however much you feel is adequate. However, if you need some guidelines, this should do it.

1. DJs/Musicians – $25-$50 per person. If there are multiple musicians, each person should receive a tip or a large enough sum to split between everyone.

2. Officiants – $75-$100 or a donation to the congregation if not accepted.

3. Hair stylists/makeup artists – 15-20%, just like you would at a normal appointment.

4. Photographers/Videographers/Florists – $50-100

5. Delivery persons – $5+ per delivery person depending on how much set up is involved in their delivery (i.e. cake delivery person who has to set up your cupcake tower and then place each of the 200 cupcakes perfectly on it).

6. Wedding Coordinators – $50-$100 or a personal gift. Make sure this is reflective of how much time/energy they spent with you for the planning process.

7. Coat Checkers/Valet drivers/bathroom attendants – $1-$2 per guest or you can allow them to accept tips from your guests, but many wedding guests assume this has been covered already.

8. Transportation – 15-20% of the total bill, unless included in the contract

8. Catering staff – I saved this one for last because it is a bit more detailed. Normally, the gratuity is included in the contract, so you won’t have to worry about this. To make it easy on yourself if it isn’t included, you can always just give a percentage of the bill to the service captain on the day of if it isn’t included. The usual amount is 15-20% of the bill, just like in a restaurant. However, if you want to tip each person individually, generally bartenders/servers should get $25-50 per person, catering/banquet managers between $100-$200, chefs should receive $50-100 each. If you sign a receipt with a tip line, make sure you know who is getting the tip. I was recently informed of a company who has a gratuity line, but the tip doesn’t go to the servers or bartenders. It actually goes to the company. Weird, but true.

How should tips be handed out?

Each tip should be placed in a separate envelope with the names/company of the person to receive the tip written on the front. You will want to designate someone to be in charge of handing these out to each and every person. You can give all the catering staff tip envelopes to the catering manager to be handed out accordingly. Just make sure you have an accurate count of how many servers, bartenders, chefs, etc will be working your event. It is up to you whether you want to use cash or check for these, whichever makes you most comfortable. I’d keep a list of this somewhere at home as well so you can follow up to make sure everyone received it.

What are the exceptions to these rules?

Exceptions to these “rules” would be if you were really blown away by the service. It is always acceptable to offer more than was expected if you are extremely happy with their service. For example, if the contract with your photographer states they will be there for 8 hours and you see they are still shooting at the 9 or 10 hour mark, a little something extra shows that you noticed and are thankful.

Last but not least, thank you cards should not be overlooked. They are always acceptable and appreciated in ANY situation. If you are tight on cash and cannot afford to give out extra gratuity, sometimes a simple thank you card will at least show them that you are thankful for their service and time. Plus, vendors appreciate getting a picture and hearing from you after the wedding. I have a little box where I keep my thank you cards. Any time I am having a bad day, I take a quick look through it and am reminded of why I do what I do. Most of us are rewarded by the fact that you had an amazing day and realize that without them, it wouldn’t have been possible.


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