Tipping Wedding Vendors

When making your wedding budget, don’t forget to reserve a little extra for all the fabulous vendors that will be working hard to make your day perfect.  While tips are certainly not obligatory (aside from service charges already indicated on your contract), a wedding vendor would be so grateful for that little gesture of thanks.  You may have had such an incredible experience and want to show your appreciation, so here is some help on the very popular questions: Do I tip? How much do I tip?  Who do I tip?

To start, some general rules are:

  • Business owners do not need to be tipped, but do tip their employees.
  • However, you can tip an owner when the service exceeds expectations.
  • Tip those who have given you exceptional service.
  • Thank-you notes with a heartfelt message and your monetary token of thanks is always appreciated.
  • Assign a trusted family member, someone in the wedding party, or your wedding planner to hand out these tips.  You don’t want to be carrying money trying to track down each person to tip them.

Here’s a quick little guide broken down by vendors to help you out:

Your Makeup Artist and Hairstylist
This is one vendor that you need to tip and is expected. Just as what you would do in a salon, prepare at least a 15 to 20 per cent tip and bring a little extra, as sometimes, surprises do occur and you may have a mother-of-the-bride not like her hair and demand another style or a bridesmaid who thought she was OK without help, decide last minute that she was wrong and needs all the help she can get.
Are they expecting it? Yes
How much? 15 to 25 per cent or more, depending on the quality of the work.
When should you tip? After the service, when everyone is done.

The Wedding Ceremony Officiant
Usually a donation to the institution is expected when the officiant is part of a church or synagogue. If you belong to that institution, you may want to give a larger amount.  However, if you are simply renting the space and are paying anyway, a smaller amount is just fine.  Non-denominational officiants charge you for their time, so a tip is not required.
Are they expecting it? Yes, if they are part of a church or synagogue.
How much? $300 and up, if they are part of a church or synagogue.  For a nondenominational officiant, $50 to $100 is sufficient.
When should you tip? You may give this tip after your rehearsal or at the rehearsal dinner, if they are attending.

Wedding Ceremony Musicians
You may have very specific requests that you asked your ceremony musicians to play and if they took the time to perfect this and add it to their playlist, do show some love!  However, if you are getting married in a church or synagogue and you paid for the organist anyway, you are not obliged to tip.
Are they expecting it? No
How much? $20 and up per musician
When should you tip? At the end of the ceremony.

Wedding Photographer and Videographer
This is a vendor that does not usually get tipped, however, if you have given a long list of demands, such as many specific shots that need to be taken and he or she has done so without any hesitation, show your appreciation.
Are they expecting it? No
How much? $50 and up
When should you tip? At the end of the reception.

Caterers/Reception Staff Heads
This includes the maître d’, the banquet manager and on-site coordinator. Do expect to pay a service charge that is included in your bill, but if the tip is not included on your contract, you can give a little something.
Are they expecting it? Yes
How much? 15 to 20 per cent of the food and drink bill (base this on labour, not on cost) or $200 to $300 for the maître d’.
When should you tip? At the end of the reception.

Other Wedding Reception Staff
All other staff like bartenders, servers, valet staff, coatroom attendants etc. may have a service fee included in the contract, but double check.  If it's not included, ask ahead of time, how many attendants will be working on your wedding and calculate enough to pay each person.
Are they expecting it? Depends on contract, but optional.
How much? $25 per bartender or server, $1 per guest for coatroom staff, $1 per car for valet staff.
When should you tip? You can tip at the end of the reception, but tipping ahead of time will encourage staff to offer great service!

Band or DJ
Your musical entertainment--whether a 12-piece orchestra or a single DJ--does not expect to be tipped.  However, these musicians are an integral part of your night, so if they do go the extra mile, playing every song on your playlist and being really great with your guests, go ahead and tip.
Are they expecting it? No, but it's greatly appreciated.
How much? $25 and up per musician in a band, $50 and up for DJs (do remember that bands come with sound technicians that work hard all night, behind the scenes).
When should you tip? At the end of the reception.

Limos and Wedding Transportation
Check your contract as some companies already include the driver’s tip in your bill.  If it's not included, make sure you prepare a tip, especially if they are on time and helpful.
Are they expecting it? Yes
How much? $50 and up
When should you tip? At the end of the night.

Rita WongRita Wong is a wedding and events planner and owner of Rita Wong Events. Based in Montreal, she also plans many weddings every year for brides living in Toronto and abroad. She is a dedicated follower of new trends and her goal is to give each bride a wedding that is fresh, unique, and a personal reflection of who they are.