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Tipping Etiquette – Gratitude to the service providers who make your day go smoothly

We talked last week about keeping a sense of gratitude and appreciation on your wedding day by giving back to those involved. Today, we’d like to extend that thought to the wedding professionals that put in so much of their time and effort to make your day so special.

Tipping Etiquette:

Surprise! Weddings are expensive… we know and we get it. So, let’s start this discussion off with some advice from Yolanda Williamson of Angelic Event Planning. Regarding tips she says, “some brides and grooms work on a tight budget and financial tipping may become a challenge with the numerous vendors and people that help to make their wedding day all that they want it to be and go smoothly. A great “free” but beneficial way to say thank you and show their appreciation is to find a public site (their webpage, facebook, instagram, twitter, google, yelp etc.) and review them. Write a review that will sway other couples to use their company and the services they provided to them. Tell how they went the extra mile to make your day special. I am a firm believer that word of mouth will build you or kill you.”

That is such great advice, and we would like to recommend that you do this whether you give a financial tip or not. Online reviews are crucial in today’s market, so if you feel like your vendors did a good job, be sure to let others know!

But don’t some wedding vendors rely on tips in order to provide excellent service? Danielle Lee, who works at My House Social, says, “In terms of tipping etiquette, we at My House Social include gratuity on all our contracts so this is not left out. This gratuity covers the service staff, bussers, and chefs. We do not like to see the bride and groom (or coordinator) running around with cash on the wedding day, thus we handle this before the event!” This is true for most caterers and reception locations, but it is always important to verify this prior to your wedding day. Check your contract and be prepared to give a little extra to the individuals working your wedding if it is not already included. Typically, this would include tips for the catering staff, waitstaff and bartenders. You can also opt to let your guests tip the bartenders instead, especially if you are providing an open bar.

Another good thing to check for is whether the person providing a service is the owner of the business or works as an employee. Typically, business owners do not expect to receive any tips, but if your he/she is an employee or assistant, it is customary to leave individual tips on top of the business’s fees.

For financial tips being given on the day of your wedding, consider enlisting a member of the bridal party, a parent or your wedding coordinator to make sure everyone receives what you have decided on. It is so easy to forget during all the wedding excitement, so we suggest that you prepare envelopes ahead of time and make sure that they are clearly marked for quick and easy delivery. Finally, we want to reiterate that you should not feel obligated f you cannot afford to tip everyone. As we will break down below, while some tipping is almost always expected, many vendors consider a tip optional and are generally, pleasantly surprised to receive one.

Tipping Expectations and How Much:

  1. Catering (In House or Off-Site Staff): Expected; 15-20% of the total bill if not included
  2. Hairdresser and Makeup Artist: Expected; 15-20%
  3. Officiant: Appreciated; If you are getting married in a religious ceremony, it is often customary to make a donation of $100-$200 to the house of worship. For non-clergy officiants a tip of $50-$100 is appreciated.
  4. Photographer and Video: Optional; $50-$75 to each assistant
  5. Transportation (Limos, Carriages): Expected; 15-20% if not included in the contract
  6. Décor Delivery and Set Up: Optional; $10-$20 per person, depending on how much set up and break down is involved
  7. Wedding Planner: Not Expected; $50-$150 to say Thank You
  8. Ceremony Musicians: Optional; $15-$20 per musician
  9. Reception Entertainment: Optional; $25-$35 per musician or $50-$100 for a DJ
  10. Valet: Optional; $1-$2 per car to be split among all valets
  11. Restroom and Coat Check Attendants: Optional; $.50-$2 per guest to be split
  12. Florist and Bakery: Not Expected; 10-15%

If you have any more questions regarding wedding tipping etiquette, feel free to ask on our Be Selfish Bride page! You can also use our online budget calculator to help you plan your wedding spending budget and stay on track!

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Jennifer Vogel was raised in Metairie, LA. Now living in Ohio, she still draws from her New Orleans roots for inspiration in her work. Jennifer freelances in web design / development, graphic design and, now, writing for New Orleans Weddings Magazine.

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