There are so many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to a wedding – literally and figuratively. You’ve got the caterer, the photographer, the wait staff, the limo driver, and, of course, the DJ. All of these roles are crucial in making sure that your special, once-in-a-lifetime day goes off without a hitch. But does everyone get a tip for his or her time and service? And if so, when? And how much?
Essentially, you should treat your wedding like you would treat going out to eat with a friend. You generally leave a tip for the wait staff, right? Unless, of course, the service was less than favorable or your waitress was rude. The same should go for your wedding.
Being unsure about how much to tip can bankrupt you on what is quickly becoming perhaps the most expensive occasion of your life, so it’s important to know who gets what and when. Let’s break it down:
Should you use a planner for your wedding, he or she won’t necessarily be expecting a tip, but if you’re thrilled with how he or she helped everything come together, then by all means you may offer one.
If you decide to tip $500 is standard fare, and it should be presented either in an envelope at the end of the reception or in a thank-you note after the honeymoon.
Just like another normal day at the salon, though arguably more so, a tip is definitely expected by those who style your hair and fine-tune your make-up. Just like you would for everyday service, a tip of 15-20% is typical and is provided when service is complete
The Delivery Staff
Is someone wheeling in your monstrous wedding cake? Sound system? Bevy of flowers? That delivery person also deserves a tip. Nothing too crazy, just a quick fiver or tenner will do. The same goes for those who may be bringing in and setting up tents, chairs, or other outdoor wedding items.
Present your tips in cash envelopes the day before the wedding to the catering manager (or whoever is in charge) so that the one who is accepting the deliveries can turn the tip.
Tipping your officiant varies, depending on the circumstances. If he or she is affiliated with a church or synagogue, a donation to the institution is expected – larger donations (around $500 or more) are expected from members over non-members.
If you’re getting married in a church or synagogue and they’re charging you to use the space, you can give a smaller tip. And if you’re getting married by a non-denominational officiant, a tip is not required because they instead charge you for their time. Though, if you feel so inclined, you can still tip $50 to $100.
Because these fees are typically presented prior to the wedding, that is when you would offer the tip. Else, you can have the best man pass it to the officiant during the rehearsal dinner if the officiant is in attendance.
The Wedding Staff
Here you have your banquet managers and on-site coordinators. Like the venue, a service charge is generally included on the contract for these folks – usually 10 to 20%. But if it’s not, the acceptable standard is between 15 to 20% of the food and drink fee (based on labor, not cost), or between $200 and $300 for the catering manager.
If this does appear in the contract then, like the venue, the final bill is usually due before the reception. Else, the father of the bride or the best man can pass a cash envelope to the Catering Manager after the reception when you know the final tab by which you can calculate the percentage.
Additionally, if your wedding includes wait staff or other reception attendants, then the tip scale typically goes: $20 to $25 per bartender/waiter, $1 per guest for coat room or parking attendants, and $1 per car. These tips can either be given out at the end of the reception or at the beginning to encourage better service.
You’re not expected to tip beyond what your photographer or portrait studio will charge you. If they do a great job you can offer a tip either to each person or as a group tip to the staff in a thank-you note. This tip is presented at the end of the reception and usually ranges between $50 to $200 per vendor.
The Limo Driver
This is another instance of “check your contract for an included gratuity!” But, if you fail to find one, 15 to 20 percent of the total bill is expected either at the end of the night or after the last ride. If you chose to use a separate company for guest buses, then you can designate a bus captain to hand the driver a tip; else, this duty becomes the best man’s responsibility.
The DJ can make or break your wedding. Let’s face it – as the emcee of the affair, if he or she plays the wrong track at the wrong time, or forgets to initiate the daddy/daughter dance or garter ceremony, you’re going to be pretty angry. Show your DJ that you appreciate his or her efforts, especially if they exceed your expectations, by tossing a 15% to 20% gratuity his or her way. This tip is typically presented at the end of the reception by the best man.