Gracious Gratuity – Tips on Tipping

maine wedding vendors tipping

Tips and gratuity are by traditional definition, optional.  However, on a day (or over several days) that requires so many vendors to work together like a well-oiled machine, it’s important to be aware of tipping etiquette so no one feels slighted and you don’t overlook this potentially large expense in your budget. Let me touch upon some, er, tips for tipping.

Tip #1: The magazine Real Simple stresses checking the contract for built-in gratuity charges, and I completely agree. Caterers, venues and cake providers often require gratuity in the contract, as do other vendors.  You can write tips into the contract so you don’t have to worry about them on your wedding day and can budget accordingly. Tipping before the service has been provided may seem counter-intuitive, but it motivates the vendor to go above and beyond for you at the wedding, by showing advance appreciation.

Tip #2: You’ll never need to give gratuity to the individual owner of the business – of the venue, the photography studio, the beauty shop, etc. That’s because, unlike an employee, the owner isn’t splitting her fee with anyone else. And for those vendors you do want to give something extra, consider small gifts and thank-you notes rather than or in addition to cash. This personal touch for vendors you’ve come to know shows that you recognize their efforts and acknowledge their unique influence on your day.

Tip #3: Finally, tap your event planner, an organized parent, best man, or maid of honor to dole out the tips in envelopes on the day, either before the ceremony or after, so that you don’t have to worry about the logistics.

Here’s a list of typical tips, taken from Real Simple, The Knot , and my personal experience as a wedding planner.

Musicians: Optional 15-20 percent of fee for ceremony musicians; $25 to $50 per musician for reception

Officiant: For a church or synagogue, a donation of $500 or more depending on how involved you are with the congregation; for a non-denominational officiant, $50-$100, though often a tip is not expected because they are charging you for their time. Note: court clerks are not allowed to accept tips.

Photographer/videographer: Generally not expected unless the photographer works for a studio. Still, if you’re paying a flat fee with no overtime, $50-$200 can be given to the artist at the end of the day.

Hairstylist: 15 to 20 percent, delivered at time of service

Limo or bus drivers: 15 percent, sometimes written into the contract

Hotel chambermaids: $2 to $5 per room; $10 to $15 if you used a suite as your dressing room

Bathroom attendants: $1 to $2 per guest

Coat check attendants: $1 to $2 per guest

Makeup artist: 15 to 20 percent, delivered at time of service

Delivery and set-up staff: $5-$10 per person, delivered at time of service

Catering/Service manager: $200 or a personal gift

Chef: $100+

Bartenders: Optional and typically spelled out in the contract; if not in the contract, 15-20 percent of the total liquor bill (to be split among them)

Maitre d’hotel or headwaiter: 1 to 3 percent of food and beverage fees, sometimes written into the contract

Coat check attendants: $1 to $2 per guest

Delivery and set-up staff: $5-$10 per person, delivered at time of service

Valet or parking attendants: $1 to $2 per car; 15 percent for valet parking

Waiters: $20 and up each (usually contractual and distributed by the catering/service manager or maitre d’)

Wedding planner: Optional and given by the bride. Can be up to $500, 15 percent of fee, or a personal gift like photos from the ceremony that the planner can use in her portfolio.

Jessika Brooks Brewer
CEO of French’s Point, Maine


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One Response to “Gracious Gratuity – Tips on Tipping”

  1. So glad you put this up!

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