Your Day, Your Way: How to Tip (Band, Florist, Photographer and More)

Giving the right tip at your wedding.

For many of us, there’s a period of uncertainty at the end of a hair or nail appointment or when the waiter brings the check and the subject of tipping arises.

With no set rules about tipping, I’m often left to wonder, “Did I tip enough?” or “Did I really have to tip that much?” With an approaching wedding and a long list of vendors that will most likely need to be tipped, I decided to look into tipping guidelines for weddings.

Tipping is a subjective subject and always optional, but for many vendors, it’s expected and appropriate. Tipping is customary for bartenders and waiters, but you may prefer to write a personal note with a small gift for professionals that own their own business and delivered exceptional service for your wedding.

Here’s a list of vendors you will most likely want to tip:

Vendors with Contracts
For every vendor that you have a written contract with, read it carefully to see if it includes gratuity (sometimes labeled "service charge"). If it does, it will most like say what percentage it is (15 or 18 for example). While completely optional, feel free to tip more if you were extremely satisfied with the service.

Hair and Makeup
Hairstylist: 15–20 percent
Makeup artist: 15–20 percent

Check if a tip is included in the contract; otherwise, you do not need to tip them. You can tip them for set-up and delivery ($10–$20 per location), unless it’s also included in the contract.

Food and Beverage
Bartenders: 10 percent of the total liquor bill (you can give one tip that’s split among them)
Catering manager: $200+
Chef: $100+
Waiters: $20+ (to be distributed by the catering manager, unless it’s included in your fee)

Music and Photos
DJ: $50–$150
Ceremony Musicians: 15 percent of fee or $15–$20 per musician
Reception Musicians: $25–$50 per musician
Photographer: $50–$100 (depending if he or she owns the studio or is an employee)
Videographer: $50–$100 (depending if he or she owns the studio or is an employee)

While you don’t have to tip your officiant, it’s recommended that you make a financial contribution to the church. If you’re being charged to use the space, a smaller tip is acceptable. If you’re officiant is nondenominational, an tip of $50–$100 is appropriate for his or her time.

Limo, bus, trolley drivers: 10–15 percent
Valet or parking attendants: $1–$2 per car (this can be figured out ahead of time by estimating how many guests will use this service)

Bathroom attendants: $1–$2 per guest
Coat check attendants: $1–$2 per guest
Hotel chambermaids: $2–$5 per room; $10-$15 if you used a suite to dress

Wedding Planner
If your wedding planner owns his or her own business, a tip wouldn’t be expected; however, it’s always nice to say a special thank you to the one pulling everything together! A 15 percent tip or note and personal gift would be a nice token of appreciation. If your wedding planner is an employee, a $50 tip would be appreciated.

A week or two before your wedding, set aside cash for tipping and put each tip amount in a labeled envelope. Put someone in charge of handing them out on your wedding night that you trust, such as the wedding planner or one of the fathers. It’s much easier to make sure the right tips go to the right people if you take care of everything that night. If you plan to send a note and gift, send it after the wedding.

Keep in mind: If you don't think you can afford the tip, consider a less expensive vendor. If you need to cut costs, cutting the tip isn't the way to go.

These guidelines came from The Wedding Book by Mindy Weiss (2007) and Wedding Vendors: Tipping Cheat Sheet by Celeste Perron (