Clients ask me all sorts of questions about tipping wedding vendors, mostly because there’s lots of conflicting information out there about how it should be done. Who gets tipped? How much? When? Cash? Gifts? Reviews? Let’s break down the basics, and once we’ve done that, I’ll give you a wedding vendor tipping cheat sheet, just to make it super easy.

Firstly, it’s most important to note that tipping is by no means mandatory. Just like in your real life, you’ll want to award tips for great service. If you feel as though someone hasn’t done that great of a job, do not feel obligated to tip her! Also, read your contracts: some vendors include gratuity in their pricing, in which case no further cash is necessary (though a thank you card never goes amiss).

When figuring out your tips, you’ll want to think of service providers but not business owners. We’re talking waiters, bartenders, drivers, etc. For the higher priced vendors, like photographers and planners, following standard tipping guidelines will likely destroy your budget (20 percent of your photography budget is probably a whole lot of cash). But if your catering manager scrambled and made it work when ten extra guests showed up unannounced, your DJ brought and lit an unexpected disco ball that made the party, your florist’s team showed up with more flowers than originally promised, you may want to provide a little something extra to say thank you. If you’d like to give them cash, I recommend something in the $100 to $500 range, depending on your area and also what your budget allows. Wedding vendors work crazy hard and appreciate a bonus!

I always recommend tipping in cash as opposed to with checks. Since many vendors tend to require payment on the day of your wedding, it’s super easy to have the cash in envelopes along with the final checks for distribution. Note that it’s smart to tip coat check and restroom attendants before the wedding starts, as guests may try to tip on their own. That way, they’ll be able to politely decline and explain that gratuities have been handled by the host.

With that said, cash is not the only option. As a business owner, I can tell you that it is really great to get thoughtful gifts. We love treats like restaurant gift certificates (make sure it’s for enough to cover dinner for two), spa days, wine… think gifts that you wouldn’t typically buy for yourself that make you feel warm, fuzzy, and relaxed. It’s also lovely to give gifts that specifically suit vendors that you’ve gotten to know over the course of planning together. You can really give something special if you know that your photographer is a new dad, your planner just bought a home, or your florist is really into science fiction books.

Beyond that, here’s a full-blown cheat sheet to help you figure it all out (there are ranges, because it really does depend on several factors including where your wedding is taking place, how large it is, and how many details are being executed), which covers most wedding vendors. And keep in mind, if you want to give someone a tip, but can’t afford the listed amount, do it. Even $20 buys a well-earned cocktail, along with the feeling that your hard work was appreciated.

Wedding Vendor Tips  |  Cheat Sheet

Catering Cooks:
Suggested Amount: $25 each ($100+ for the Chef)
Optional or standard? Standard.
How about a gift instead? Nope.

Catering Managers / Lead Captains / Banquet Managers:
Suggested Amount: $200+ each
Optional or standard? Optional.
How about a gift instead? Yes!

Coat Check / Restroom Attendants:
Suggested Amount: $1 to $2 per guest (or per car for Valet Attendants)
Optional or standard? Standard.
How about a gift instead? Nope.

Delivery Persons / Setup Team (don’t forget Florists!):
Suggested Amount: $5 to $10 each (an envelope with these tips should go to whoever will be accepting deliveries.)
Optional or standard? Standard.
How about a gift instead? Nope.

Hair Stylists and Makeup Artists:
Suggested Amount: 20%+ of the total fee
Optional or standard? Standard.
How about a gift instead? Nope. Unless they are independent business owners.

Musicians / DJs:
Suggested Amount: $25 to $65 each
Optional or standard? Optional.
How about a gift instead? Nope.

Officiant (including those provided by houses of worship):
Suggested Amount: $35+
Optional or standard? Optional.
How about a gift instead? Yes, if it’s a friend or clergy member. You can also consider a donation to a clergy member’s discretionary fund, if appropriate.

Photographers and Videographers:
Suggested Amount: $100+
Optional or standard? Optional.
How about a gift instead? Go for it!

Transportation Drivers:
Suggested Amount: $25 to $50 each
Optional or standard? Standard.
How about a gift instead? Nope.

Waiters / Bartenders:
Suggested Amount: $25 to $65 each ($50+ for the head bartender if there is one; $150+ for the head waiter)
Optional or standard? Standard.
How about a gift instead? Nope.

Wedding Planner:
Suggested Amount: 20%+ of the fee (mostly because planner rates vary so much)
Optional or standard? Optional. (But if your planner does not own the business, a tip of some amount is encouraged.)
How about a gift instead? Yes! Planners love those!

Cash and gifts are great, but most thoughtful, and incredibly touching, for business owners are notes of thanks. These can take the form of handwritten cards as well as reviews on their business listings (like APW! Plus Wedding Wire, The Knot, Google, etc.). I have every thank you note I’ve ever received from a client, and I will keep them until the paper literally disintegrates. Positive and thorough reviews are just as exciting to receive, and those can go a long way in attracting new clients. Plus, reading through them is a great reminder as to why the work we do is so special.

The post A Cheat Sheet for Tipping Wedding Vendors appeared first on A Practical Wedding: We’re Your Wedding Planner. Wedding Ideas for Brides, Bridesmaids, Grooms, and More.

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