To Tip or Not to Tip? That is the Question!

Here at Principles in Action, a San Antonio Wedding Planner we get a lot of questions from San Antonio-based couples who are curious about tipping wedding professionals and vendors. Tipping etiquette at a wedding is a common topic of confusion! Although we tend to tip service providers in everyday life, when it comes to your wedding day, the etiquette of whom and how much to tip can be a little bewildering. Traditional wedding custom is to tip a wedding supplier if you think that they did a great job, or provided you with outstanding service. Tipping should be based on the quality of service provided to you on your wedding day and in the run up to your wedding. If you appreciate the work they have done for you, you can certainly show your appreciation by tipping them.

Tipping is an additional cost, which you should include into your wedding budget so that you can ensure that you have the money allocated for this purpose. Use our following tips as a guideline, but also use your personal judgment. While tipping costs should be factored into your budget, remember that if you are on a tight wedding budget, you should not feel obligated to tip. If you think your wedding supplier did a great job, an alternative idea is to send them a gift with a thank you note after the wedding. The most valuable gratuity you can give to any supplier is your recommendation of them to others, so consider showing your love by sending a personal letter of recommendation or testimonial.

Some wedding package rates include tips, so be sure to read your contracts thoroughly to see if a tip is included in their price. Most notably caterers add a gratuity to the foot of their bill and usually call it a “service fee.” Make sure you are clear about what each wedding supplier is being paid so you can make judgment calls on whether or not additional tipping is necessary–finding out after the wedding day that you double tipped the caterer would not be fun.

Traditionally, it’s the best man’s duty to take care of distributing tips on your behalf on your actual wedding day. If they are unwilling or unable to accept this responsibility, feel free to nominate someone you are comfortable with who is happy to handle this task (oftentimes, this ends up being the father of the bride’s role).

Still confused about who to tip? Here are some suggested amounts according to each type of wedding vendor:

  • Hairstylist, makeup artist, beautician: You should expect to tip these service providers just as you would a normal visit to a salon. Tips should be 15-20% of your total bill.
  • Officiant: Although officiants do not usually ask for financial compensation for their services, they do expect you to make a donation to the church or their organization. The amount varies from a flat fee to an honorarium and can range from $50 up to $500. If you are using the services of a civil servant, such as a judge, then you are allowed to donate funds to the, provided you do not exceed $75 and it must be paid to them outside of court/office hours.
  • Transportation: Make sure gratuity hasn’t been included in the bill already, as this is often the case with transportation fees for weddings. If not, or you want to reward them for their service on your big day, the norm is between 15-20% of the total cost of the bill.
  • Valet, parking, coat check and restroom attendants: Tips should range from $1-$2 per car/guest. If you are tipping the valets, coat check and restroom attendants, agree with them and the venue manager that it is unacceptable for these members of staff to accept tips directly from your guests. A sign placed near each of these services that says “No Tipping Please” should be sufficient to deter guests from offering tips.
  • Waiters and waitresses or servers: It is not necessary to tip the servers if you have already paid a gratuity in your contracted price. If there is no such provision, then you should expect to tip 15-20% of the total food bill. If you think a particular individual has provided you with fabulous service, feel free to give that server an additional tip.
  • Catering/venue manager: Traditionally, the caterers and venue management will calculate a tip into their cost, but if a service charge has not been included, allow 15-20% of the total bill, or $1-$2 per guest.
  • Bartenders: Usually you will find that the bar manager will add a service charge to the bill, but you might want to tip the bartenders 10% of the total amount of the liquor bill if that is not the case.
  • Seamstress: Although it isn’t customary to tip your seamstress, if you feel they have made an extra special effort, feel free to tip them between $15 to $30.
  • Planners: Wedding planners work for a set fee and will not expect a tip, but if you’d like to show them how grateful you are for their special finishing touches, then 10% of their total fee is more than adequate.
  • Delivery staff (florist, bakers, etc.): Staff responsible for delivering your flowers and wedding cake do not expect to receive a tip, however if you feel they have provided you with exceptional service, a tip of $15 to $20 per person is recommended.
  • Church musician: This fee is usually included in the rental fee for a church, but if that is not the case with your venue, feel free to tip the musician between $25 to $40 per person.
  • Musicians: Live musicians do not expect to receive a tip, but if they were especially groovy, you should allow $20 to $25 per band member.
  • DJ: As with musicians, if you consider their performance to have made your wedding reception swing, then a tip in the range of 15-20% of their fee is appropriate.
  • Photographers: While photographers do not expect a tip, if you want to reward them for all of their extra work on your wedding day, this should be between $20 to $30. Alternatively, you can indicate your satisfaction by placing a large order of prints or recommending them to your friends on Facebook!

Worried about who to present the tip to with regard to groups of wedding suppliers? Hand it off to the head of the group–for example, with a band, the tip should be given to the leader (or singer) and with waiting staff it should be presented to the head waiter or maitre d’ who will ensure that it is evenly distributed amongst the team.

During your wedding day, your wedding suppliers will need to be fed–the photographers, videographers, DJ and musicians are included in this list. They won’t be able to provide you with their best service if they are running on an empty stomach. Caterers will usually ask you what provision you want to be made for these providers during your reception and will make suggestions as to menus and seating arrangements.

We hope this tipping guide helps you–be sure to remember that the most important person on your wedding day is you, so relax and enjoy your memorable wedding and let the planners do all of the major work!
Did you run into any additional concerns with tipping your wedding professionals? If you have any other tipping etiquette questions that we didn’t cover, feel free to comment below!

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