From your photographer and videographer to your hair and makeup artist, it takes a village to pull off a wedding. So how do you show your gratitude for a job well done and a dream come true? Tipping your wedding vendors is one way, but there’s no need to feel obligated if the service was mediocre or disappointing. Consider this your suggestion guide for how much to tip wedding vendors who go above and beyond for you—plus, when to extend this gesture.
Your Wedding Vendor Contracts: Have It in Writing
When you book a wedding vendor, you should always have a contract detailing the services they’ll provide you. Think of it as a way to hold the vendor accountable if something goes wrong or they don’t show up to what they agreed to.
If a vendor doesn’t provide a contract, it’s critical to request one. This legally-binding document serves three purposes: you and the vendor understand the services that will be rendered; you and the vendor have agreed upon the rate (and deposit) for the services that will be rendered; you can be assured that the vendor has locked down your wedding date and time.
Note: Be sure you pay close attention to the payment details. Is gratuity already included in the total? Watch out for phrasing such as “gratuity,” “service charge,” or “service fee” to give you an indicator, though you should still ask vendors for clarification if anything is confusing. If you see these terms, there’s no need to include an additional tip. But if gratuity is not included in the final bill, you may want to tip the vendor if you’re blown away with their service.
Here are the most common wedding vendors, in alphabetical order, that couples hire—including suggestions on how much to tip them and when. After all, the gesture of tipping is an art, one that requires some strategy to get right.
If you’ve hired a band, consider the number of hours they’ll perform, the equipment they’ll have to haul in and out of the venue, new songs they may have to learn, travel time, and the practice hours they’ll need to make your big day a magical one.
What to tip: Though optional, you can tip 10% – 15% OR $25 – $50/per band member for an impressive performance.
When to tip: Slip the band an envelope of cash with a Thank You note post-performance. You can do it yourself or enlist the help of someone you trust. If you miss the band before the night is over, it’s acceptable to send the tip in the mail to show your appreciation.
Whether you’re having a traditional cake or other decadent treats, no wedding is complete without something sweet. Consider the man-hours the baker needed to create your wedding cake, the quality ingredients required, and special arrangements and requests you and your partner may have had.
What to tip: It’s not expected to tip your baker, but some couples choose to tip the delivery team who sets up the cake on the morning of the wedding. Aim for $10 – $25 for a standard cake OR upwards of $50 for a more elaborate cake that requires more time to arrange.
When to tip: Once the delivery person or team has set up the cake, have someone slip them an envelope with cash and a Thank You note (You’ll probably be too busy to do it yourself at that point!).
The food and beverages are some of the most memorable parts of a wedding. But wedding catering doesn’t just involve the meal; it also includes appetizers and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Consider the ingredients, preparation, and service that’s required from the catering company’s employees—the chefs, wait staff, and bartenders—to pull this off without a hitch.
What to tip: Gratuity is usually included in the contract. But if not, you can cash tip $50 – $100/per chef and $20 – $50/per catering staff OR 15% – 20% of the total bill. For bartenders, aim for 10% of the total liquor bill. You can also ask your caterer ahead of time about how many chefs, wait staff members, and bartenders will be at your wedding.
When to tip: After dinner and dessert, extend envelopes of cash to the Banquet Manager, Catering Manager, or whomever else is in charge of the catering team to distribute tips evenly between the employees (i.e. wait staff, bartenders, kitchen staff, setup staff) before they leave.
As the bride, what do you plan on hearing as you walk down the aisle? Do you envision a romantic, unexpected melody from a mini-orchestra or a classic wedding tune from a trio of violinists to envelope you as you inch closer to your soulmate? If your ceremony musicians pull it off flawlessly, you can show them some extra love.
What to tip: If gratuity is not included in the contract, aim for $25 – $50/per musician. Otherwise, it’s not expected unless you were impressed by their performance.
When to tip: Once you’ve said your I dos and you and your guests begin trickling out of the ceremony, have someone you trust to hand out envelopes of cash to each musician—and don’t forget those Thank You notes!
If you’re looking for a more relaxed vibe, you’ve probably enlisted the services of a DJ. Whether you’ve hired a beginner, intermediate, or experienced DJ, it doesn’t hurt to prepare a tip in advance of the wedding if you and your guests end up blown away by their performance.
What to tip: Tipping isn’t expected for your wedding DJ unless you feel they went above and beyond and were responsive to your wishes. In that case, you can aim for 10% – 15% of the total bill on the contract OR $50 – $100.
When to tip: Find an opportunity to slip an envelope to the DJ once the performance is over and the night comes to a close.
Without flowers, a wedding is a lackluster affair. As such, the florist you’ve chosen for your ceremony and reception has the important job of creating floral arrangements and bouquets that pop, match your theme, and realize your vision.
What to tip: Florists don’t expect a tip, but if you’d still like to reward them, you can tip 10% – 15%.
When to tip: Catch the florist before the ceremony starts or at the end of the reception. You can also send a check in the mail with a note thanking them for their exceptional service.
Hair and Makeup Artist
What’s one way to feel more amazing than you already will be on your wedding day? Hiring a hair and makeup artist, of course. These professionals have the important job of making you and your closest loved ones feel beautiful and polished, and if their service ends up being outstanding, you should consider tipping them for their efforts.
What to tip: Similar to a salon visit, a 15% – 20% tip is expected for your hairstylist and makeup artist (including those for your bridal party), though it’s not “required.”
When to tip: After you and your bridal party get your makeup done, extend those tips individually. But since you might be distracted by your upcoming nuptials, have a bridesmaid or maid of honor hand out the envelopes instead.
Who do you plan on being your wedding officiant? Is it a close friend or family member, or maybe a religious figure? Either way, your officiant has the important role of leading your wedding ceremony, so your choice will surely be a meaningful one.
What to tip: Usually, an officiant won’t accept or expect a tip. But if you insist, a $100 – $500 donation to their church or house of worship is generous. If they’re not a religious figure or just someone who is a close friend or family member, you can extend between $50 – $100 along with a sweet Thank You note.
When to tip: If they’re at the rehearsal dinner, have someone you trust to pass the envelope to your officiant at that time. Otherwise, you can send their tip in the mail, before or after the wedding, to express your gratitude.
When you hire an experienced wedding photographer or videographer to capture all those posed and candid moments, you can feel assured you’ll look back fondly on your wedding day for many decades to come. They want to do a good job, too, as the outcome of your photos is a reflection of their skills, and a professional will know what to do to show everybody in their best light.
What to tip: If they’re the business owner, you’re not expected to tip. But if you insist, or they don’t own the business, $50 – $200 is generous. Just make sure you’re tipping all photographers, videographers, and staff members—not just your “main” one.
When to tip: Try to catch your photographer or videographer at the end of the reception, or have a responsible friend or family member slip them an envelope of cash if you’re preoccupied.
Logistics such as transportation may not be the most exciting part of your wedding day, but it’s certainly important. How will everyone get to the festivities? Will you need a limo (or two)? Maybe you even want a getaway car for after the reception. Whatever your transportation needs, drivers have the important job of getting everyone to and from the wedding on time—and safely.
What to tip: Look at the transportation company’s contract to see if gratuity is included (It most likely is.). Otherwise, aim to tip 15% – 20% if all goes as planned.
When to tip: You can wait until after the last ride or at the end of the night to thank them for their service (and getting you to your destination in one piece).
What’s a wedding without a beautiful venue? Whether it’s a casual, outdoor event or a fancy, indoor affair, think about the venue-related people who help to create a wedding worth remembering. To start, there’s the manager, onsite planner or coordinator, banquet manager, or maitre d’ — all working in tandem so that your wedding not only goes as planned but exceeds expectations.
What to tip: First, check the contract to see if the venue lists each reception staff team member (with added gratuities), as tipping is usually expected. If it’s not listed, you can tip 15% – 20% of the venue rental fee OR $100 – $300 to each person mentioned above, if applicable.
When to tip: Have a parent, sibling, or friend hand out an envelope of cash to each person who worked hard to make the venue run fabulously for you and your guests.
If you’ve chosen to hire a wedding planner, they’ve probably helped you budget, understand legal contracts, keep everything on track, and coordinate the entire day from start to finish. Think about the organization and poise required to plan and manage the details of your big day. An experienced wedding planner will understand this.
What to tip: Wedding planners won’t expect a tip, but if you feel that yours went above and beyond, 10% – 20% is a nice gesture.
When to tip: Find your wedding planner post-reception and hand them an envelope with cash. And why not give them a hug while you’re at it?
Tipping Wedding Vendors: Is Cash All There Is?
To express gratitude for those wedding vendors who knocked it out of the park, cash isn’t the only way. You can also send them a personalized gift such as a handwritten letter and a mason jar of homemade jam, a gift basket of cheeses, fruits, and chocolates, a gift card, or even leave them a glowing review on their website or social media. Your options are endless, but whatever approach you take with your extraordinary wedding pros, you can be sure it’ll leave them feeling appreciated.
Amanda Hanna is a fictionist, non-fictionist, poet, and Chicago native. A flâneuse who loves to wander, Amanda has explored nine cities in Europe, lived in four cities in the United States, and daydreams about making San Francisco her next home. Follow her at theamandahanna.com.