Budgeting is undoubtedly one of the most difficult parts of planning a wedding. The majority of couples are clueless when it comes to figuring how much a celebration should cost (because, really, when is the last time you bought a bejewelled gown, booked a venue, and hosted 150 people for dinner?!) So it comes as no surprise that most don’t even consider factoring wedding vendor tips into the equation until the eleventh hour.
The fact that you found this article means that you’re already considering vendor tips (bravo!) So which of your vendors will expect a gratuity? “I think tips are never expected but always appreciated,” says Nicole Hilhorst, owner and principle planner at Details BC. “I always advise my couples that it’s up to them who they want to tip. If they feel their vendors have gone above and beyond, then a tip is always appreciated. Some vendors build tips into their pricing such as caterers and bartenders so it’s good to be aware of that too,” she adds. Lynzie Kent, owner and creative director of Love By Lynzie, agrees. “I think that despite being service-based, many wedding vendors charge a rate that is fair and compensates them well and would not expect to be tipped,” she says. “If the vendor is not the business owner, then you could consider tipping. If the vendor is in the food service industry, tipping is a must,” she adds.
When it comes to how much to tip, Kent says anyone in the food service industry (your caterers, waitstaff and bartenders, for example) should receive 18 to 20 percent. She recommends flat rate gifting for all other vendors.
Tipping recommendations by vendor
Wedding planner or day-of coordinator: $100-$500 depending on length of service and type of service, or a small gift but it’s not expected
Band: Anywhere from $40-$100 per musician
Bartenders: Check your contract as most staffing/food and beverage contracts build this in at a standard service rate of 18-20 percent
Catering staff: Check your contract as most staffing/food and beverage contracts build this in at a standard service rate of 18-20 percent
Photographers: $100-$500 depending on length of service and type of service, or a small gift but it’s not expected
Videographers: $100-$500 depending on length of service and type of service, or a small gift but it’s not expected
Hair and makeup: 15-20 percent just like going to the salon
Hilhorst and Kent agree that it’s not necessary for the bride and groom to hand out gratuities themselves. “It’s a nice touch, but as day-of coordinators we usually do it for our clients so they don’t have to worry about it on the day of the wedding,” says Hilhorst. “Some prefer to wait until after the wedding and send out tips that way,” she explains.
As with every part of your big day, tipping is totally personal. If your budget absolutely won’t allow for monetary gifts, consider sending thank you cards and writing glowing online reviews for vendors you truly loved.
Keep in mind that these people will play a huge part in pulling together one of the biggest parties of your life, from conceptualization to execution, so anyone who has gone the extra mile by offering referrals, accommodating last-minute changes or offering advice and services outside of their contracted duties is likely deserving of a token of appreciation.