No Thanks
Let

Keep In Touch With MarthaStewart.com

Sign up and we'll send inspiration straight to you.

Martha Stewart takes your privacy seriously. To learn more, please read our Privacy Policy.

Tipping Wedding Vendors

Martha Stewart Weddings, Volume 27 2004

Though you may think you've accounted for every imaginable wedding expense, there is one fee that might elude you: the tip. Rewarding vendors with a tip is expected, and it will serve as a thank-you for a job well done. But figuring out whom to tip, how much to pay, and when to offer it can be tricky.

While some vendors include gratuities in their fees, many will leave the amount up to you -- and the level of service they provide can influence what you give them. Tips can add up quickly, costing you a few thousand dollars. Gratuities for caterers alone can be $200 to $600 or more, for example, depending on the number of guests, your catering costs, and where you live. Most tips should be handed out the day of the wedding, so it's wise to assign the job to a friend or family member. A follow-up thank-you note is often a valued tip in itself, as your word can be a recommendation for the vendor.

Officiants
While it isn't necessary to tip priests, ministers, rabbis, or other religious officiants (many of them, in fact, won't accept cash tips), if you want to thank them for their services, consider making a donation to their organization or house of worship. A typical amount is $75 to $100, separate from any fee you may be charged for the officiant's time.

If you belong to a church, your own minister or priest may perform the wedding at no charge. In this case, you could make a donation to the church, and as an extra thank-you, consider sending something personal, such as a gift certificate to a nice restaurant.

If your wedding is performed by a civil employee such as a judge, clerk, or other nonreligious official, then forgo a gratuity. Such officiants are paid a flat rate and are usually not permitted to accept tips or donations -- local law may actually prohibit it. A thoughtful card, however, is always appreciated.

Catering Staff
Many caterers include a gratuity in their contract to be divided up among the workers, but be sure to ask. If the gratuity isn't included, plan on tipping all staff members, including the catering or banquet manager, waiters, bartenders, chefs, and other essential workers who help serve guests.

"Most catering staff members receive a decent hourly wage, however, so you needn't go overboard on their tips," says Joe Piane, sales manager and executive chef at Piane Caterers in Wilmington, Delaware.

You can calculate the tip as a percentage of the cost of your total catering bill. Figure on paying about 15 to 20 percent of the amount for the banquet manager to share with the kitchen and serving staff. Another way to compute the gratuity is to offer a flat amount for each worker, which is often a more economical method, especially if your catering company is expensive. You'll want to give roughly $100 to $200 for the catering or banquet manager, $50 each for chefs (and bakers), and $20 to $30 each for waiters and kitchen staff, divided into separate envelopes.

Tips can be paid in advance to the director of the catering company, or you can hand them to the banquet manager toward the end of the evening.

Musicians and Deejays
Tipping customs vary, depending on whether you hire an independent band or deejay or book through an agency. For independent bands that book their own gigs, tipping is not customary.

"No matter what your deejay or band is charging, the money is going right into their pockets, so don't feel like you have to give extra, unless of course they really went above and beyond," says Kelly Scriven, owner of the Bride's Maid, a wedding consulting business in Whitman, Massachusetts. Valerie Romanoff, owner of New York City--based Starlight Orchestras, adds, "We're always pleasantly surprised when clients tip us and recognize the entertainment value of what we provide, but it's not expected."

If you employ your band or deejay through an entertainment agency, the company will usually either include a gratuity in the contract or suggest that you give each band member or deejay a little extra in cash. If your contract includes a "service charge," don't assume that it is the gratuity. "The service charge often goes right back to the company," says Scriven.

Musicians should be tipped about $20 to $25 apiece; deejays get at least $25. Many bands offer a vocalist for the ceremony at an additional cost. Tip him or her the same amount as you would one of the other musicians. Hand out the tips in cash at the end of the night.

Stylists and Makeup Artists
Even though it's a particularly special day, you can still tip stylists and makeup artists as you would for a regular appointment -- 15 to 20 percent. For each assistant who helps with secondary tasks, such as shampooing, plan on giving a gratuity of $3 to $5.

You can hand out tips in envelopes directly to stylists, or leave them at the salon's front desk. If you're short on cash, it's fine to tip by check or include it on a charge. If a stylist comes to your home or the wedding site, tip as you would at a salon, but in general, makeup artists and hair stylists who own their own businesses are not tipped.

Photographers, Videographers, Florists, and Wedding Coordinators
For people who own their own businesses, as many of these vendors do, tipping isn't necessary. "They've already negotiated their fees and expect only that amount of money," says Jeremy Faryar of LIFEstories Film, a New York City videography company that specializes in weddings. For photographers, videographers, and florists who do not own their own businesses, tip $30 to $50; wedding coordinators should be given about $50 to $100.

If you feel that the service you received from one of these vendors was extraordinary (say, if the videographer stayed and took footage of an after-wedding party even though it wasn't in his contract), an additional 10 percent tip would be a nice gesture, says Ruth L. Kern, an etiquette consultant in Barrington, Illinois. Or you might send a thank-you gift such as flowers or a print from your photographer showing the vendor in action at your wedding.

Site Staff
Wherever you have your wedding, there will likely be many behind-the-scenes workers, such as coat checkers, powder-room attendants, or parking valets. Make sure you do not overlook these people -- while you may not have much contact with them throughout the celebration, they help keep guests happy. Sometime before the wedding, ask the site manager to instruct workers not to accept any tips from guests. Instead, plan on tipping them yourself. At the end of the evening, pay coat checkers a total of $1 to $2 per guest, which they can share. Powder-room attendants should receive 50 cents to $1 per guest, to be divided among them. Set aside $1 to $1.50 per car to give to the parking manager, who can then divide up the cash among the valets.

Seamstresses, Delivery People, and Drivers
Though they won't actually be at the wedding, these workers' preparatory roles are just as important, so be sure to thank them in some way.

The people delivering the flowers and cake should receive at least $5 each at the time they make their deliveries. A gratuity for your limousine driver may already be included in your bill, but if it's not, consider giving a tip of 15 to 20 percent of the cost (pay it in cash when the driver picks you up). For seamstresses, a cash tip is not expected, but sending a small gift such as a photo of you in your dress is a wonderful way to show your gratitude.

Comments (11)

  • 11 Feb, 2014

    Tipping, surprisingly, is not just a city in China. However, many people these days pay with either a debit or credit card while buying essentially everything, so plastic is used for tips. There are a number of reasons why one should tip waiters with cash at every possible occasion. Article source: apply for loan you don't have to pay back immediately

  • 28 Oct, 2013

    Awesome information. I am really surprised with this topic. Keep up the good work and post more here to read.
    apa bibliography maker

  • 12 Mar, 2013

    If I work a lower end venue and get $50, I'm feeling pretty good because I know that is a lot of money to my client.
    If I do a wedding at a high end place and get $50, I'm left wondering: did I do something wrong? That client can obviously afford to do better.

    Nobody stays at a reception partying because they liked the invitation. Guests don't remember the centerpieces.

    If you can't afford to tip your vendors appropriately you need to rethink your wedding budget and where the $ is being spen

  • 12 Mar, 2013

    As a wedding DJ, I work for a company. Though we might charge a client $800 for 7 hours of dinner music and dance music. I don't get even 1/4 of that. The general rule of thumb is that when a vendor owns their own business, no tip is needed. They are however still appreciated.
    When a vendor works for a company tipping is appropriate, and should be just like when you go out to a restaurant 15-20% is where you should start and then adjust up or down based on the quality of the job done

  • 1 Mar, 2012

    i'm a notary public in maine, which means i have the privilege and honor of performing weddings. i charge a fee for my service. i just want to be clear that although i am a civil servant i am absolutely allowed to accept tips. there is no law (at least in maine) that forbids me from accepting tips. i'm not sure about other states, but you may want to clarify this section of the article.

  • 16 Jun, 2010

    Whether wedding or not, tips are appreciated in the service industry. If you go to a restaurant you will tip; same with a taxi, bartender etc. I disagree that the wedding industry expects tips. However, if you get great service it's appreciated. As for carrying envelopes, if you have a wedding planner either for full planning or day-of management, he/she will be doing all payment/tips etc. distribution for you, so no family member or friend has to spend the wedding day concerned about it.

  • 11 Jun, 2009

    Go into a salon....get your hair done...its $50. Go into a salon....get your hair done the EXACT same way and tell them its for your wedding....the new fee is $120...and the hair stylist has the nerve to want a tip on top of it?????????

  • 11 Jun, 2009

    As if the parents of the bride don't have enough to worry about the day of the wedding....we have to walk around with envelopes filled with money while also trying to enjoy the blessed event! Why don't vendors tell us what their fee is and do the job to the best of their ability and live with it like the rest of us.

  • 11 Jun, 2009

    Welcome to the wedding business...there is overhead : )
    You have to pay to play.....(owners included!)

  • 22 Apr, 2009

    I think this article needs to be taken with a grain of salt. My husband is a DJ and it is always expected that a DJ is to be tipped in our area (New York) It is average for each person working with the DJ company to receive $100 tip. The 'pay' is not money in their pockets. There is outrageous overhead in this business (ex: 3 million dollar insurance, $50 thousand worth of equipment) As for seamstresses- the bridal shop I used actually had a sign in the dressing room to tip 20% of alterations.

  • 5 Jan, 2009

    Giving a tip is a polite THANK YOU for the service. Yes tip, tip, tip.
    www.celebrityvipeventplanning.com