Tipping Etiquette for Weddings

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Tipping Etiquette for WeddingsI don’t know about you, but for me the rules around tipping etiquette have always been shrouded in complete and utter mystery.  I mean, yes I understand that a 15-20% tip is customary at restaurants (in the US at least), but I was never too clear on some of the other protocols.  So, I did a little research on the topic (thank you, Google!) and after all these years I now have a pretty good grasp of the rules around common tipping etiquette.  So for today’s post, I would like to convey what I have learned in the context of a wedding – especially your own wedding.

First, let’s talk about some of the common rules of thumb when it comes to tipping.  Generally speaking, the 15-20% range seems to be the most common.  When in doubt, focus on this range.  The types of vendors and service providers that will expect a 15-20% tip include bartenders, limo drivers, hairstylists, makeup artists, DJs and wedding bands.  These rules generally apply whether you are a wedding guest or the happy couple.

Another common number when it comes to generally-accepted tipping rules is the $1-2 per guest range.  This rule applies to valet attendants, coat checkers, bathroom attendants, and other tertiary employees that are necessary to make the affair run smoothly.  Some other common tipping rules include the church or minister or [insert your preferred officiant here…] ($100-$200), the photographer ($50-$100), the catering manager ($200) and the chef ($100).

Now, one thing to always keep in mind is that when it comes to your own wedding and the vendors and service providers that you hire, a tipping provision might actually be included in the contract.  So you’ll want to understand what is and is not included.  You will particularly want to focus on the contracts associated with the catering and wedding cake provider, as it is common practice for a 15% gratuity to be included in these contracts (which in my opinion is actually nice because this way you don’t need to worry about it during the event).

Also, for those you hire, do not tip the owners of the businesses because they are the ones pocketing most of the paid fee – instead, make sure you only tip the employees.  Another great idea for every happy couple is to have a trusted person, like the mother of the bride or the best man, handle the tipping tasks.  This way, the happy couple won’t have to be distracted with this on the big day.

So, that’s tipping etiquette for weddings in a nutshell.  Again, if you’re a wedding guest and you need to tip a bartender, hairstylist, DJ, etc., when in doubt stick with the commonly-accepted 15-20% range.  If it’s your wedding, make sure you understand whether or not a gratuity is already baked into the contract so you can avoid double-tipping, and only tip employees, not owners. 

Follow these common-sense tipping rules and you’ll be good to go no matter whose wedding it is.  Good luck!

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