Which Vendors Should You Tip On Your Wedding Day?

Check out our guidelines for wedding veder tipping, how much to budget for, and other tips regarding gratuity.

By Emily Forrest

Happy reception guests
Photo by Nicodem Creative

All of your wedding planning has been categorized and budgeted down to the very last detail, but wait—did you remember to factor in tipping? In many cases, tipping is a gracious, if not expected, way to give to those who have helped you plan your wedding celebration.

First thing’s first: Double check the line items of your contract to ensure wedding vender tipping or a service charge isn’t already included. You want to follow proper etiquette when it comes to your wedding staff, but definitely don’t want to pay twice.

Booking each of your vendors is likely to be the most expensive portion of wedding planning process. Often, there are unexpected taxes, gratuities, and other fees that are tacked onto the final contract. Make sure to read all of the fine print and ask questions before signing. Even if you discussed the main details of the day and have a good feeling about the individuals or companies you’re working with, there may be charges that end up on your bill that you hadn’t initially planned for. And, one of those things may be a baked-in tipping cost. If this is the case, no need to add anything else.

On the other hand, if you have a vendor that you feel has gone above and beyond to make your celebration a success, personally tip an additional amount or give them a small gift to express your gratitude. Their job is to make your wedding go off without a hitch within the parameters of your contract and the capabilities allowed within the wedding venue. However, you can tell when a person goes the extra mile and it’s a nice gesture to extend your appreciation through tipping.

As you finalize your budget, include which wedding vendors to tip, how much to tip them, and review contracts to confirm where gratuity is already factored into the final cost. Although you’ll want to follow standard tipping protocol, you don’t want to end up paying for the same thing more than once.

When it comes down to it, tipping is entirely at your discretion. When you’re happy with the service and/or when certain vendors are expecting it as part of their full wages, it’s best to calculate these costs ahead of time.

Read on for more of our wedding tip guide below.

When to Tip Wedding Vendors

Tipping at weddings should be handled upon services rendered or at the end of the reception. Give the responsibility of passing out tip envelopes to your maid of honor, best man, or wedding planning coordinator. For the vendors where optional tips are welcome, feel free to mail a monetary appreciation or small gift to them after the honeymoon as you send out the rest of your thank you cards.

Another way to share gratitude in a helpful way—especially for vendors that are small businesses—is to post a positive online review, as well as share and tag photos on your social media channels. Also be sure to refer their services to friends, family, and colleagues. Word-of-mouth is a good way to spread your satisfaction with others and, hopefully, lead to future opportunities for your wedding vendors.

When it comes to who to tip at a wedding, don't forget that the decision is up to you. While it’s a nice gesture, you shouldn’t feel obligated to tip if you weren’t happy with the service. That said, know that most catering companies and other wait staff members will be expecting a tip if they've completed their job.

Who Should You Tip on your Wedding Day?

The question doesn’t stop at do you tip your wedding venue, but what wedding vendors do you tip? Do you tip wedding vendors like your hairstylist, wedding cake baker, and florist? Do you tip the wedding photographer, musicians, and wedding planner? Some vendors expect a tip as part of their services. For example, standard tipping applies for your hairstylist the same as it does if you were visiting for a regular haircut or blowout. You may want to add more if you have an intricate hairstyle for your wedding day or the salon has made special accommodations for you and your wedding party.

On the other hand, the person or bakery that makes your wedding cake isn’t likely expecting a tip. That is, unless they have delivery staff bringing the final product to you. The total amount, which may include delivery to the venue, should be calculated in the final contract amount. If that’s the case, this is a situation where tipping is optional. If they’ve managed to go beyond what they normally provide for their customers, or have made a cake look far more stunning than you could ever have imagined, of course, feel free to add a tip.

Other wedding vendors in addition to your wedding venue that are likely to expect a tip for services include:

  • Hair and makeup artists

  • Transportation companies

  • Delivery drivers

  • Reception staff

  • Wedding officiant

Hair and Makeup Artists

As mentioned, tip your hair and makeup artist in the same way you would for a salon visit. This can be anywhere from 15-25% of your total bill. Many hair stylists will offer brides-to-be a trial run or consultation for their wedding updo or style. This should be factored into the cost, as well as how long your hair or makeup appointment lasts. Also, tipping leans toward the higher side if you’ve hired a team for the day for touch ups.

Transportation

Hiring a limousine, trolley car, or other special transportation for you and your wedding party is a common wishlist item for couples. For unique wedding rides, driver gratuity may already be factored into the final bill. Check this part of your contract when deciding if and when to tip. If there’s mention that gratuity is appreciated, but not included, consider how prompt and friendly the service is and tip accordingly.

Delivery Drivers

The people who deliver your cake, flowers, rental chairs, and all other wedding decorations and details need to be tipped as well. For certain vendors, they may already add delivery costs into their contract, but actual tipping is likely not included. Reserve $5-$10 per person in cash envelopes to have your venue or wedding coordinator distribute as necessary.

For these tips, be sure to pull out money from the bank well in advance of your big day. Set the cash aside in separate envelopes that are clearly labeled and sealed.

Although these tips are $10 here and there, depending on how many vendors you have and the amount of services required, they can quickly add up and take you over your original budget.

Wedding Venue Tip Photo Credit // Hailley Howard Photography

Reception Waitstaff

Tip waitstaff and bartenders in the same way you would in a restaurant. If the service is excellent and well-managed, 20% is ideal. Keep in mind there’s likely a service fee included as part of your venue contract, which means you won’t need to include a tip on top of that, unless you are blown away by the service. For cash bars, guests can tip bartenders as they wish.

Vendors Where Tipping is Optional

In addition to the vendors who are expecting tips, here is a list of vendors where tipping is optional:

  • Wedding planner

  • Photographer/videographer

  • Ceremony musicians

  • Florist

Wedding Planner

Many couples hire a wedding planner. This is an additional position to the venue coordinator onsite. This person is with you from the very beginning and handles everything from scheduling vendors to alleviating wedding day stress. The best wedding planners have a personal touch, which proves invaluable when it comes to creating your dream wedding. If this is the case, consider a tip of 10-20% of the total bill or opt to send a personal note and gift of gratitude.

Photographer/Videographer

Photographer and videographer services are clearly laid out in the contract, as you’re typically working with business owners. Considerations for tipping include if a second shooter is needed or if there are extenuating circumstances where the photographer had to adapt more than planned to get the shots you wanted. Whether they're a wedding photographer from Tampa, FL or Chicago, IL, tipping $50-$100 is customary or you can also give a personal gift as an alternative.

Ceremony Musicians

Much like a wedding planner and the wedding photographer, the contract you have with the musicians hired for both the wedding ceremony and wedding reception include setup time, hours played, and more. This should be clearly laid out in their contract so you are all aware and agree to the expectations. If your wedding band goes above and beyond in accommodating song requests or navigating a difficult set up, consider adding in a tip of approximately $20-$35 per musician.

Wedding Venue Tip Photo Credit // Moondance Photography

Florist

Many florists will offer free delivery depending on where your wedding venue is located. When tipping, consider how responsive the florist was with your requests, changes, setup at the venue, and other key moments to make the process flow seamlessly. If you loved the final product and were amazed by the level of service, tip away. A 10-15% gratuity is a nice addition to the final invoice or can be sent separately with a thank you note.

Vendors Where Tipping Depends on Contract Conditions

All of this being said, there are a few vendors for which things can be a tad more confusing. Whether or not you should tip them may not be as clear-cut as traditional wedding tip etiquette. However, if you take a good first (or second, or third) look at your vendor contract, you should be able to figure out whether or not a tip is necessary—or already included. We recommend keeping this in mind before signing on any dotted lines. Don’t hesitate to ask any potential vendors questions if you’re confused on wording or the contents of a proposal.

Prop tip: A service charge and gratuity aren’t necessarily the same thing, as the service charge doesn’t always go directly to employees, such as delivery people or waitstaff. Feel free to ask potential vendors what their service charge is going to, if it isn’t made clear in their proposal.

Here is a list of vendors where tipping depends on the conditions laid out in your contract.

  • Bartenders

  • Catering staff

  • Chauffeurs or drivers

  • Venue staff (coat check attendants, restroom attendants, parking valet, banquet manager, etc.)

Wedding Tipping Recommendations

Creating and paying mind to a wedding budget can be difficult enough for those who don’t do this sort of thing regularly (i.e. most of us). Add gratuity customs and the entire process can easily become overwhelming. With that in mind, we leave you with a handful of helpful tips to aid you along the wedding tipping process. Keep them top-of-mind as you navigate your budget, vendors, and final numbers.

Prepare Tips in Advance

If you are tipping specific vendors, prepare the tips in advance. We especially recommend this when it comes to cash tips. Separate each tip by the appropriate amount and place each in its own dedicated envelope. On your wedding day, give them to someone trustworthy, such as your wedding planner—or, if you’d rather, keep hold of them yourself—and distribute them at the appropriate times (typically, at the end of the night).

Leave Positive Reviews

In any case—in-person gratuity, mailed gratuity, or built-in gratuity—consider leaving your vendors good reviews. Reliable reviews are how most vendors gain business, so if you were impressed, we highly suggest leaving a comment or post about their good work.

Tag Your Vendors in Posts

If you’ll be posting about your wedding on social media, consider tagging the vendors your feature. For example, if you post a photo highlighting the gorgeous florals, tag your florist. This way, people can easily find them. Plus, many vendors enjoy reposting their work—or just knowing you enjoyed it!

Tipping is a cost you may not have previously considered as you're creating your wedding budget, but it’s an important one. Outlining the amount for each vendor and/or choosing personal gifts you want to purchase ahead of time will alleviate the stress of handling it at the last minute. Follow proper wedding etiquette when it comes to tipping, while reserving your right to tip the top amount for only those who provide truly exceptional service.

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