Whom Should I Tip on My Wedding Day?
Local event planner Travis-Lee Moore tells us just how much.
Q: I keep getting different answers from family and friends on this, so I hope you can help me. For my wedding, whom should I tip (airbrush tan technician, makeup artist, hairstylist, limo driver, priest/officiant, DJ/band, wedding planner, etc.), and how much should I give them?
A: The short answer is basically “Everyone who goes above and beyond for you” and “15 percent to 20 percent!” Keep in mind: no tip jars ever! You are hosting a party, and your guests should not be expected to take out their wallets. It is absolutely essential that you calculate gratuities ahead of time so they are included in your wedding budget. Review your contract with each vendor to see if a gratuity is included in their price. Caterers, for example, generally add a gratuity of 15 to 20 percent to the end of their bill, which is called a service fee or service charge. But caterers vary on who is included in a service charge. To ensure that you tip appropriately, ask your caterer which staff members are already included and which aren’t (wait staff, kitchen staff, catering managers, etc.). Those not included in the service charge should be tipped 15 to 20 percent of the total food bill, with special consideration given to the people who went above and beyond.
Bartenders are given a gratuity of 10 to 20 percent of the total bar bill, with the understanding that a tip jar is never appropriate.
Musicians, in general, do not expect to receive a tip, but if their performance at your reception was exceptional, you may tip anywhere from $25 to $200 per band member. If the DJ has made your reception extra special, a tip of 15 to 20 percent of his fee is appropriate. Fees for ceremony organists, musicians, and clergy are often included in the church rental bill. If they are not, a gratuity of $35 to $75 for each is appropriate, with clergy’s gratuity being $75 to $100, or more if travel time is involved.
Some clergy will accept a gratuity; others may request that it be given in the form of a donation to the church. Civil officiants, such as a judge, justice of the peace, or city clerk, are not allowed to accept gratuity for services performed during office hours. If the ceremony is performed after regular office hours, he or she is allowed to accept a “donation” of up to $75. Be sure to check with your officiant for the legal guidelines of your locale. Gratuities for these individuals are given following the wedding ceremony.
Florists, photographers, and bakers do not expect a tip in addition to their original fee. But if they have gone above and beyond the call of duty for you, a tip in the range of 10 to 15 percent is appropriate. Hairstylists, makeup artists, airbrush tan technicians, and related professionals are given a standard gratuity of 15 to 20 percent, with those performing secondary tasks, such as shampooing, receiving $3 to $5 per client. Although a tip to your seamstress or dress fitter is not expected, a tip between $15 to $30 is appropriate for above-expected service.
Gratuity for limousine drivers is often included in their bill, so be sure to check before adding your own. Valet and parking attendants are tipped a standard $1 to $2 per car if prior arrangements are made with the site manager to instruct attendants that tips are not to be accepted from wedding guests.
Coat check attendants should be tipped $1 to $2 per guest, and powder room attendants 50 cents to $1 per guest, with the understanding that no tip jar will be displayed.
Wedding planners are not usually tipped; however, for exceptional service, a gratuity in the range of 10 to 20 percent is appropriate.
The couple should designate a person, usually the best man, to handle gratuities on the night of the wedding. Immediately prior to the wedding, provide him with cash gratuities in envelopes labeled with each recipient’s name or title. He will then distribute to each person at the end of the evening. All catering-related gratuities are to be placed together in an envelope to be distributed to staff by the head waiter or maitre d’ following the reception. It is also wise to provide the best man with additional cash in a plain envelope to be used at his discretion in case of emergencies, such as someone being left off the list.
Gratuities are entirely at the discretion of the couple and are given as a thank-you for extraordinary service. For those on a limited budget, it is perfectly acceptable to tip on the lower end of the scale or follow up with a token of your appreciation accompanied by a gracious thank-you note within a week after the wedding.