Even the most thorough couples often overlook one very substantial expense — tips! Depending on the tone and formality of your wedding, tipping can easily add from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to your costs.
Although tipping is, for the most part, expected, it is never required, and it is solely at your discretion. A tip, for extraordinary service, is always a welcome surprise, and if you decide to tip after the wedding, that is fine, too. If you cannot afford to tip, a glowing letter of recommendation and the offer to be a reference is always appreciated.
How to Tip
As if you didn't already have enough to remember for your wedding day, now you need to add tipping to the list? With some preplanning, tipping your wedding professionals is simple and easy. Just follow these steps:
Predetermine the tipping amounts by taking into account the level of service the vendor has provided thus far; it is a good indication of the level of service you can expect on the wedding day.
Consult the tipping guidelines for an idea of typical tipping amounts. Take into account the locale of your wedding and the formality; high-end venues equal high-end tips.
Place each vendor's tip in an envelope that is clearly marked with the vendor's name.
At the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, or the morning of the wedding, pass the envelopes off to the wedding planner, best man, or the designated point person. Ask this person to distribute the tips at the conclusion of each vendor's service.
The tipping guidelines that follow are guidelines, not rules. Exactly how much or whom you tip is completely at your discretion. Many of the guidelines offer percentages, but flat fees are okay, no matter what the amount. Always check your contracts and paperwork, because some wedding professionals include a gratuity in their contract.
Some caterers and reception site managers have gratuities of 15 to 20 percent included in their contracts (some don't, just ask). Their tips are usually paid in advance by the host. If the caterer or manager has been exceptionally helpful, you may wish to give her a tip, usually $1–$2 per guest.
The banquet captain runs the venue's portion of the reception. He oversees all of the food and beverage service, and sees that the guests are comfortable and happy. He should be tipped approximately $1–$5 per guest depending on the location.
Waitstaff usually receive 15–20 percent of the food bill or $10–$20 per server. Caterers sometimes include this gratuity in their contract. If the tip was not paid to the caterer in advance, give the tip to the head waiter/maitre d'/banquet captain during the reception.
A wedding planner is paid a fee for her service, but if your planner has provided exceptional service and care during the planning and on the wedding day, a tip is in order. Ten percent of their fee or anywhere from $50–$500 is acceptable.
Bartenders should be tipped in the range of $50–$100. The location and size of your wedding should determine the amount. For example, a bartender for a small wedding at a moderately priced restaurant would fall in the $50 range, while a bartender at a wedding for 200 guests at an expensive hotel should be tipped more in the $100 range.
Restroom, coat check, or parking attendants should be prepaid by the host, usually $1–$2 per guest or car. You may ask the staff not to accept tips from guests.
Limousine drivers receive 15–20 percent of the bill. This tip is almost always included in the contract. Any additional tips are at the host's discretion.
Musicians or DJs may be tipped if their performance was exceptional. Tips usually run about $25 per musician. DJs are tipped in the range of $50–$200. The level of service and scale of the wedding will determine the final amount.
Florists and bakers are usually not tipped; you simply pay a flat fee for their services. If you do choose to tip, 15 percent is standard.
Photographers and videographers are often not tipped. Of course, you can always tip if you want to. This amount, anywhere between $50–$250, would depend on how pleased you are with the service provided by the photographer and the overall scale (budget) of your wedding
Delivery personnel or setup staff receive $5–$20 each.
Makeup artists and hairstylists should be tipped 15–20 percent of their bill.
A hired officiant receives a flat fee for performing the service. A tip of $50–$200 could be in order. The actual amount would depend on the length and details of the ceremony, as well as the amount of time and care he or she spent with you prior to the wedding. A religious officiant usually asks for a donation to his or her house of worship. This ranges from $50–$500 and is typically outlined when you book the house of worship, or you may ask the officiant or venue coordinator for customary amounts. A civil officiant, like a judge, is not allowed to accept tips.