The silverware is set, floral arrangements in place, music filling the air all courtesy of the hard work put in by the many vendors who have transformed your dreams into a reality. As with any service based business, expressions of appreciation from clients are customary; this week we’re covering the basics on tipping etiquette, from whom to tip, how much and the appropriate times to offer.
So often do we find this topic to be filled with a bit of grey area but it is something that is sure not to be overlooked, as exceptional service should always be rewarded from the last minute changes to place settings or extra hours put in by your wedding coordinator. For many vendors, gratuities are built into the price quote but if not, don’t be shy to bring up the topic or ask for gratuities to be added into the contract to ease the stress on the big day.
When tipping religious officients, consider making donations to their organization or house of worship as most do not accept cash tips. A typical donation amount is $75-$100 but adjust according if you find yourself to be a more active member of your church or congregation. For non-religious officients, such as civil employees, judges or clerks, forgo the cash gratuity all together as they are usually not permitted to accepts tips or donations but a thoughtful note of thanks is always appreciated.
For larger items such as catering, most often the contract will reflect the gratuity amount which is to be divided among all workers but do not be hesitant to get clarification with managers. If gratuity is not included, plan on tipping all kitchen and serving staff from managers to chefs to bartenders. You can calculate the tip as a percentage, most often 15-20 percent of the total cost, which you can then have divided by the director of catering or for a more economical approach, you can offer a flat amount for each worker. When tipping, be sure to either have the gratuities paid in advance or handed out at the end of the evening in separate envelopes. Typical tip amounts for staff are as follows:
-Catering/Banquet Managers: $100-$200
-Serving/Kitchen Staff: $20-$30
Behind the scenes staff deserve some appreciation too!
Usually contracted by the venue, employees who handle coat check, valet or attending to the powder room, should be tipped in cash at the end of the night for their services. Ask a site manager to instruct workers not to accept tips from guests as it is usually customary to cover those gratuities. Typical tip amounts for staff are as follows:
-Coat Check: $1-$2 per guest
-Powder Room Attendants: $0.50-$1 per guest
For independently booked musicians and DJs, tip is not customary, but if you feel the job was exceptional, don’t hesitate to reward them. Normally, musicians should be tipped $20-25 per person and DJs at least $25. If you opt to employ your entertainment through an agency, the company should include a tip in the agreement or suggest that you give a little extra cash. Be aware that service charges on a price quote does not account for a tip!
As for the beauty team, such as make-up artists and hair stylists or manicurists, you can tip as you would for a regular appointment, 15-20 percent. Don’t forget to include assistants that help with secondary tasks, a reasonable tip would be $3-$5 each.
Photographers, Videographers, Florists and Wedding Coordinators: Typically, when employing business owners, tipping is not necessary. However, if, for example, your photographer works for a studio and he/she is not the owner, you should plan on tipping $30-50. When you feel that the service provided by a vendor was extraordinary, an additional 10 percent tip or a thank-you not with a small gift such as flowers or a bottle of wine would make for a wonderful gesture of appreciation. With wedding coordinators, gratuity is not required as it already can be accounted for within their fees, but a tip, whether monetary or not, is welcomed if the job was executed efficiently and all of your wishes were granted.
Seamstresses, Delivery People and Drivers: Though their role may seem small, these workers also play in an important role in the preparatory stages of your big day, so be sure to thank them in some way. For deliveries, such as flowers or cake, workers should receive at least $5 each at the time of their delivery. Drivers may already include gratuities in their price quote but if not, consider giving a tip of 15 to 20 percent and be sure to pay in cash at the time of pick-up! Although, a cash tip is not expected for seamstresses, a small gift of appreciation is great way to reward them for their hard work.
While it all may seem overwhelming, it is still a necessary step in the process and if you want to keep your stress levels at a low on the day of, don’t be afraid to assign the task of handing out envelopes (and don't forget to include a small handwritten note of thanks!) to that well-organized maid of honor or your wedding planner.
Gratuities should be taken into consideration when discussing your budget and selection of vendors in the early stages of planning your wedding, as it can add up quite quickly. While this topic is all very subjective to the couple and the budget, keep in mind that showing your appreciation, even by recommendation or a simple thank you note, is always appreciated.
Photography Credits: Philippe Lee at www.jadestudioproductions.com