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Weddings at The Mansion

Nicki Ann's Wedding Blog

In her blog, Nikki Ann shares with you her insights, thoughts, and feelings on all things women, wedding, marriage, and event-related.

#TBT – Wediquette Wednesday: To tip or not to tip

February 5th, 2015

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.


Money Honey

July 2nd, 2012

This was a guest post I wrote for Jen McKen Photography’s blog back in January. I think it is a really important one, so in case you didn’t read it I’ve posted for you again. Read and take notes. Seriously.

One thing that I commonly hear is, “I don’t see how weddings are so expensive.” It’s so true. Weddings can be very expensive. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to have a wedding for a minimal amount. But you have to know what goes into a wedding before you can set a realistic budget.

Yes. That really is the key word. Realistic. But in order for you to set a realistic budget, you have to know what pieces to consider to create the wedding you want. The very first thing you should do when you start to plan your wedding is to set a budget.

Why? Because each and every piece of your wedding goes into your budget. So here are a few things to consider while setting your budget.

When do you want to get married?
Have you always envisioned a summer wedding? Or maybe you love fall? Depending on your location, the time of the year you plan on getting married can play a huge roll in how much a wedding costs. Here in Pittsburgh, June, September and October are the most popular months. Really any time in the summer months, when it is warm, is the peak season. If you are on a tighter budget, then you may want to consider having a winter wedding. Another way to save is to avoid Saturday dates. Many venues will give a discounted rate for both off-season and non-Saturday dates. Each venue is different, so you should do some research online and via email or phone calls.

What type of reception do you want?

By this I mean, do you want a backyard BBQ, a simple garden wedding, or an over-the-top blow out with all the trimmings? If you want the first one, then your budget is going to be quite a bit lower than if you want some swanky, formal reception.

How many people do you want to invite?

This is going to be a huge factor in how much your wedding will cost you. Think about it. When you have 300 people, it is going to cost you more than if you have 50 people. There will be more tables, which will require more linens, centerpieces, escort cards, menus (if you so choose to have them!), place settings, etc. You also have to feed all of these people. Which brings me to my next point…

What type of food service do you want?

Do you want buffet, sit-down, stations, heavy hors d’oeurves? There are a lot of different ways to feed your guests. It can be as formal as a 5 course meal or as simple as a BBQ. It is all a matter of personal preference. If you want a split-plate with filet mignon and lobster, it is definitely going to cost more than a simple lemon chicken. It is *kind of* true that buffets and stations are less expensive than a sit-down meal. But one thing you need to realize is that the food itself is not more expensive. It is the service staff that is required. You are paying for servers, banquet captains, cooks, bartenders, dishwashers, etc. So for a sit-down meal, you need more service staff than you would for a buffet or stations.

What type of bar do you want to offer?

There are a ton of ways you can offer a bar to your guests. You can have a full bar, which you provide and pay for all the beer, wine and alcohol. You can provide just beer and wine. You can offer a cash bar. Or you can do a combination of any of these. And no, it is not tacky to offer a cash bar. Just please, PLEASE, notify your guests so they can bring cash if you do decide to offer it. I went to a wedding once when it was a cash bar and they literally only accepted cash. We were in the middle of nowhere, so there weren’t any ATMs around. Luckily, we were able to sweet talk the server into letting us run a tab. But I digress…

When I was doing my research to find a venue for my own wedding, I was looking for packages around 150 people. All the numbers I ran ended up with us spending between $5-7k. I bartended in college, so I am a bit of a liquor snob. I didn’t want to use the base package for any of these places. I was lucky and found the best place in the entire world (I AM a bit biased, I did end up choosing it for my own wedding reception and now work there!), that is BYOB. So if you are looking to keep your expenses down, find a place that is BYOB (or get in touch with me!) and you can offer anything you want.

Have you “picked” any of your vendors?

If you had any inkling that a proposal was coming, or if you are at the age where EVERYONE is getting married, you might have found a vendor or two that you “just have to have.” I’d find out what package pricing that person has before setting any type of budget. If they are charging $5,000 and you set your budget at $10,000, you are going to be really upset when you go over that budget. Everything else is still going to cost the same even if you decide to splurge on that one vendor.


There are a ton of online budget calculators, which I do suggest using. It doesn’t matter which one – just pick one that works for you. It is a good start to figuring out how much to put toward each piece of your wedding. If you are an on-the-go type of girl, there are a ton of smart phone apps out there that do the same thing. I am completely dependent on my phone, so this is the way I would go if I were doing it over again. And be diligent with it. Each time you make a payment, put it in. It will help you keep track of things so you can STAY on budget once it has been set. Every woman deserves to have the wedding of their dreams. I just want you to be dreaming about having it within a realistic budget.