Wedding budgets can be pretty precise but don’t forget to factor in gratuity to properly thank your vendors for their services. The amount of money to tip varies, but overall, it’s a classy gesture to reward a job well done.

“TIPS stands for ‘To Insure Prompt Service,’” says Lisa Peters, CEO and partner at Randy Peters Catering & Event Center. “If you receive great service, tip!” It’s generally best to tip after the service to show your appreciation. Doing it after the wedding – as opposed to before services are provided – ensures you get that great service you want.

“I always go back to the rule of thumb: if they are providing you with exceptional service and they go above and beyond then tip,” says Peters. “It shows your appreciation.”

How much?

Not all vendors expect tips but many do. Keep in mind: it’s common to tip for a service but not necessarily for a product (think flowers and cake). Here’s a breakdown of gratuities to budget for:

Caterer – Servers and bartenders generally expect tips, as do chefs and catering captains. The norm is to tip 20% of the food or beverage tab. Give the catering manager $200 and/or a personal gift.

Catering Menu from Beth Sogaard Catering. Photography by Meagan Lucy Photographers.

Photographer/Videographer – Give a flat rate anywhere from $50 to $250.

Officiant – Plan to give a tip of $100 or more. For clergy, it’s often best to make the contribution directly to the church.

Sacramento Wedding Photographer | Sacramento Wedding Photography | Lake Tahoe Wedding Photographer | Northern California Wedding Photographer | Sacramento Weddings | Lake Tahoe Weddings | Nor Cal Weddings | Wedding

Officiant Jennifer Tan of Tan Weddings & Events. Photography by Dee & Kris Photography.

Wedding Planner – It’s not expected to tip your planner or coordinator but if you want to tip, give 10% or more based on the services provided.

Transportation – Tip about 15% of the tab.

Floral Designer – Florists generally don’t expect tips but if you love the arrangements, you can give them 10% to 15% gratuity.

Cake – Bakers usually don’t expect tips either. If the desserts were to die for though, tip 10% to 15%.

Music – There’s a tipping range when it comes to wedding entertainment. DJs often get 10% to 15% of the bill, while live performers such as pianists and guitarists get $25 to $50 or more per musician.

Hair and Makeup Artists – Tip your wedding day stylists 15% to 20%.


Makeup by Jenifer Haupt, I Make Beautiful. Photography by Jennifer Clapp Fine Art Photography.

Check your contracts. Often contracts include tipping. If tips are built into the bill, be careful not to offer additional gratuity by mistake, unless you want to give more.

For example, Hyatt Regency Sacramento has a 23% service charge of the total food, beverage and venue rental fee built into their event pricing. “This service charge goes towards paying our banquet servers, banquet captains and our event set-up gentlemen for all their hard work before, during and at the conclusion of the event,” says Kendall Erlenbusch, Director of Event Sales, Services, & Set-Up at Hyatt Regency Sacramento. She says the built-in service charge is like having one more thing checked off of a couple’s to-do list.

Still some newlyweds choose to give an additional tip to those workers who did more than expected. It’s always a nice gesture to reward exceptional service beyond what’s already tacked on to the bill. “For those services you really feel went over the top, I would recommend tipping a little something extra to show your appreciation,” says Erlenbusch, noting there’s no set rate for those additional tips.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do include a thank-you note. “I have many clients that write a thank-you note to their help at the event, and they put the tip inside,” says Peters, who calls a note personal and a nice touch.
  • Do consider giving tangible gifts. It’s okay to give your vendors a bottle of wine or other personal gifts, in addition to or in lieu of cash.
  • Do delegate a family member or close friend to handle the tips. You and your spouse will be too busy on the big day to worry about handing out the tips. Assign a loved one to distribute the cash, gifts and notes on your behalf.
  • Don’t tip owners and management. Typically, gratuity is only for hourly employees.
  • Don’t say you’re going to tip and never do it. Follow through on your plan to show your thanks.
  • Don’t forget to leave a positive review. These days a good Yelp or Facebook review will go a long way. Vendors will value your kind comments just as much as they’ll appreciate your monetary gift.

-Kristen Castillo

Photography by Danielle Alysse Photography.

Blog post by Real Weddings Magazine’s Contributing Writer Kristen Castillo.

Photos by Danielle Alysse Photography, Dee & Kris Photography, Jennifer Clapp Fine Art Photography and Meagen Lucy Photographers/copyright Real Weddings Magazine.

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