on tipping your wedding vendors

One of the questions I’m asked most by clients is which of their wedding vendors they should tip and how much they should tip them. Now, hopefully you are paying your vendors a fair wage, and if so, tipping when it comes to weddings is most definitely optional. That said, when asked, I generally suggest tipping (proven they do a good job, obviously):

  • musicians ($20-60 each, depending on the size of the band)
  • waitstaff & bartenders ($20-$60 each)
  • custodians ($20-$40 each)
  • limo/shuttle/other drivers ($20-40 each)

Now, that being out of the way, if you feel that ANY of your vendors went above and beyond what you paid them to do (example: your photographer stayed an extra hour to catch amazing dance floor pictures, your caterer scrambled and made it work when 10 extra guests showed up unannounced, your DJ brought & lit an unexpected disco ball that made the party, you florist threw in an awesome and giant buffet arrangement, etc,) tips are always appreciated. Most wedding vendors work super, super hard to make a pretty middle-class income – it’s a total myth that we’re raking it in. BUT, when you’re paying someone several thousand dollars, tipping a restaurant-bill equivalent percentage can be obviously way over the top (20% of a dinner bill is one thing, 20% of a planning or photography bill is a totally different ballpark.) In this case, or in the case where you want to give a vendor a thank you gift but cash feels tacky, I think it’s totally fine to give some type of non-cash tip – a gift certificate to a nice restaurant in their area (make sure it’s for enough to cover dinner for two), a spa day, or something else luxurious that they’re probably not going to spring for themselves. (Although it should be noted also that I have yet to meet a wedding vendor who doesn’t appreciate a cash tip.)

All of that said, I deal intimately with client’s wedding budgets, and realize that sometimes there is just not any cash leftover to monetarily tip everyone you’d like to. Because of this I’m firmly of the school that the very best tip you can give any wedding vendor is a glowing review (on yelp, wedding wire, or any other site they’re listed on,) a written testimonial for their website, or the offer to be a referral for future clients (or better yet, all three.) Weddings by nature consist of non-repeat clients, and so we’re always working hard to keep bringing new ones in – help with this is appreciated way more that you know. I also have yet to meet a wedding vendor who doesn’t love getting hand written thank yous from their clients – add them to your list of wedding-thank-you-cards-to-write and you will definitely make someone’s day.

Getting more personal for a second: Do I expect my clients to tip me? Of course not – I own my own business and set my own prices. Do I appreciate it when it happens? Of course – tips are a concrete way for them to tell me that they really appreciated the work that I did for them. I also have a personal policy of spending tip money on unnecessary expenditures, i.e. things I want but don’t need. So that money doesn’t go to advertising, or paying my assistant, or printer paper, or phone bills, it goes towards fun things – dinner at a nice restaurant, a plane ticket, or, my last tip-money purchase – an iPad (which I’m using almost exclusively for work, but I didn’t consider “necessary” enough to build into my business budget for the year.) And, as you can see above, I adore the thank you cards I get from clients so much that I display them in my office.

photo: thank you notes I’ve received from former clients, hung across the window in my office

posted in etiquette, wedding


  1. Amy
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 08:34 | Permalink

    Oh my goodness, I’m getting married this summer and I was wondering about tipping! This is great advice and now I can build that into my budget, or at least into my “slush fund.” Thank you!

    • elizabeth
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:37 | Permalink

      happy to be of help!

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