Wedding Gratuity Protocol ( i.e. Who Should You Tip and How Much)

Money ScreenshotWe all have our own general rule for tipping restaurant servers or the pizza delivery guy, but what about all of the wedding professionals who are working hard to make your wedding day perfect?  The thought of who to tip and how much can be overwhelming, as is sorting through all of the “wedding gratuity rules” on the internet.  So, I did the research for you by comparing articles from a number of top wedding sites to determine the tipping standard for almost every segment of the wedding industry.  Before we get to the numbers, here are some helpful rules of thumb for showing appreciation to your wedding professionals:

  • #1 RULE for TIPPINGInclude estimated gratuity in your wedding budget.  Don’t be caught off guard by these often hidden costs.
  • Read your contract carefully.  Many caterers, bar service, transportation companies and venue locations automatically include gratuity or service fees in their contracts and are typically paid in advance of the wedding weekend.
  • Owners are not tipped. Self-employed vendors or business owners are typically not given gratuity.  Bands or DJs not booked through an entertainment agency are also not tipped.  However, if the owners or self-employed vendors went above-and-beyond your expectations, consider sending them a post-wedding gift or gift certificate.
  • Say thank you with a note.  Include handwritten thank you notes with the gratuities, send post-wedding thank you notes to the business owners you hire, and write a review for exceptional services on Wedding Wire, The Knot and other bridal websites.  Don’t forget to refer them to your engaged friends.
  • Consider adding gratuity to the contract. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of paying gratuity to a vendor on the day of your wedding, you can ask to have it added to your contract and paid in advance.  The vendor will be responsible for distributing to their employees.
  • Research church/synagogue donation policies.  Wedding ceremonies inside houses of worship typically require a donation.  The amount of the donation could depend on whether or not you are a member of the congregation.
  • Civil employee officiants are not tipped.  Judges, clerks of court, and other civil employees are usually not permitted to accept tips or donations.  A thoughtful card is appropriate and will be much appreciated.
  • Thank your seamstress.  You are not expected to tip your seamstress, but sending a photo of the bride in her wedding dress is a kind gesture that will be well received.  Your bridal dress consultants will appreciate a photo of the gorgeous bride, too.
  • Designate someone to hand out gratuities the day of your wedding.  Yet another reason to hire a wedding coordinator because they will handle all of this for you.  Otherwise, ask a dependable friend or family member to take care of it for you.

Hair & Make-Up: Expected; 10 – 25% of total bill; Given at the end of the service.

Wedding Delivery and Set-Up Staff (Cake, Flower, Rental Deliveries): Expected; $5-10/ person; Given at time of delivery or after rental equipment, tables, chairs, etc. are set-up.

Ceremony in House of Worship: Usually expected; $100-500+ donation; If donation is required, it is most likely due prior to your wedding weekend.

Clergy Member (Ceremony NOT in a House of Worship): Optional; $100+ donation; Given at the rehearsal or prior to the ceremony.

Nondenominational (Non-Civil Employee) Officiant: Optional; $50-100; Given at the rehearsal or prior to the ceremony.

Wedding Ceremony Musicians: Usually expected; $25-50/musician; Given at the end of the ceremony.

Wedding Photographer/Videographer: Optional; $50-100/vendor (if NOT owner) and $50-75 for second shooter; Given at the end of the reception.

Reception Venue Staff (on-site coordinator, banquet manager, chef, head waiter): Expected only if gratuity is NOT charged in the contract; $100-200/person; If not charged gratuity in contract, given at the end of the reception.

Bartender or Waiter: Expected if gratuity is NOT charged in the contract; $20-25/waiter or bartender; Given at the end of the reception.

Reception Band or DJ Booked Through Agency: Optional but can be used as an incentive for them to stick to your playlist; $20-50/musician and sound tech; $50-150 for DJ. Given at the end of the reception.

Transportation: Expected if gratuity is NOT included in the contract; 15-20% of total bill; After last trip is completed.

Valets: Expected; $1-2/car; Before the guests begin arriving.

Restroom and Coat Check Attendants: Expected; $1-2/guest; At the end of the reception.


Research collected from the following websites: