Catering

Wedding Tipping

A Guide to Wedding Tipping

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Wedding expenses really are the gift that keeps on giving. You may think you’re done after you’ve paid the florist, the caterers, the photographer, and everyone else for their services. But as with most jobs in the service industry, many of the people who work your wedding will be expecting a tip. The amounts vary, and there are some people you shouldn’t tip, and some you should tip more than others. It can be confusing to know what the etiquette is, but follow this guide and you won’t stiff or overpay anyone.

Don’t tip the owner

The main rule of thumb for not tipping is that the owner of a business does not receive a tip. They’re the direct recipient of every dime you pay in fees, so they don’t need a little extra on the top. That goes for photographers, hair stylists, even florists: if they own the business, you’re not expected to tip.

Photographers: $50-$100

As we mentioned up top, if you have one photographer and their name is on the van they pull up in, you don’t need to tip. But if you’ve hired a few photographers from a studio, it’s customary to tip each one $50-$100.

Hair stylist/makeup artist-20-25%

Unless the hair stylist and makeup artist is the owner of the beauty salon, tip as you would when you get your hair done normally, at 20-25%. If they come to the venue, set up, and do a fantastic job making you and your bridesmaids look fabulous, a little over 25% is perfectly appropriate.

Wedding planner–gift or up to $500

Some sources say not to tip the wedding planner, some say to get a small gift rather than cash, and some say you should tip cash up to $500. We think it comes down to the size of the wedding, your wedding budget, and how much your planner made your life easier. We do tend to come down on the side of a thoughtful gift rather than a cash tip, though.

Caterers – 15-20%

Just like dining out at a restaurant, it’s customary to tip your caterers 10-15%. Unlike a restaurant setting, you don’t need to tip individual wait staff.

Officiant – donation to church

If you’re having a church wedding, there’s a good chance the minister officiating will forgo a fee in exchange for a donation to the church. Most couples donate around $100–after all, it’s for a good cause.

Florist – 10-15% if you want to

Your florist is most likely not expecting a tip, but if the flowers were exceptional and they did great work staging the arrangements, you may want to add 10-15% as a sign of gratitude.

DJ/Band – 10-15% if you want to

Likewise, DJs and bands generally don’t expect to be tipped. You can add 10-15% for exceptional party-starting, or tip individual band members $15-$20 apiece if they had to schlepp their own equipment.

Set-up/tear-down people – $5-$10 apiece

Make sure that the people helping to set up chairs and to take down tables when the dancing starts get a little consideration for their labor. Slip each of them a $5 or $10 bill when you get the chance.

Wedding ceremony musicians – $10-15 apiece

In addition to their fee for playing, it’s customary to tip the musicians who play at your wedding up to $15 apiece for their time and as an appreciation of their art.

When you’re calculating your wedding budget, don’t forget to add in the tips to avoid sticker shock on the day. After all, the people who worked hard to make your wedding as beautiful as it can be deserve a little extra consideration for their labor.

How to Have a Beautiful Wedding on a Budget

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Wedding MusicWith the current state of the economy, the idea of spending thousands of dollars on a wedding ceremony might seem daunting. This is especially true now that the tradition of the bride’s family footing the bill is giving way to the couple financing the ceremony themselves. With a little creative thinking, a little bit of planning, and some elbow grease, it’s possible to have the perfect day you’ve always dreamed of without breaking the bank. Here are ways to save money with a frugal (but not cheap-feeling) wedding, enabling you to keep some money in your savings account for that first year of marriage.

Venue

Sure, that dedicated wedding venue, towering cathedral, or privately-owned mansion is gorgeous, but that beauty comes with a substantial price tag. What’s more, you may have to find a different location for the reception, meaning you’ll be paying to rent two facilities instead of one.

Instead, try an outdoor venue like a state or city park. You’ll pay a lower facility fee, and you can have your reception outdoors as well. For an indoor wedding, try a local fellowship hall or even a V.F.W. Any space can be decorated for a dream wedding, so those cheaper options can still be gorgeous.

Catering

Instead of using a dedicated wedding catering business, find a local family-owned restaurant you love and ask the owner personally about catering the wedding. You’ll get food you love at a much lower price than a professional catering outfit can provide. There’s also no shame in having family members or friends prepare the meal–provided there are enough volunteers and sufficient kitchen facilities to cook for a large number of people.

Another option most couples don’t even consider is a potluck wedding reception. It’s definitely unconventional, but in this writer’s experience, it makes for a wonderful dining experience. Each guest is encouraged to bring a dish to share and the couple provides a salad or a few main dish options. The end result is a table groaning with lovingly homemade food, with far more variety than a caterer or restaurant could provide. Even your gluten-free vegan cousin can find something to eat at a potluck.

Music

For chamber music during the ceremony, call up your local university’s music department and see if there are students who would be willing to perform at a wedding. The student will get valuable experience, and you’ll pay far less than you might for a professional musician.

For the reception, rather than hiring a DJ, put together a playlist of danceable songs on your MP3 player and hook it into the venue’s sound system (or rent just a couple of speakers for the dance floor).

Your best resource for planning a wedding on a budget may just be your friends and family. If you’ve got a friend who is an amateur photographer, help him or her build a portfolio by hiring them for the day (don’t ask them to donate their time, of course–but they may volunteer). Those friends who are always posting their homemade decoration ideas to Pinterest? Conscript them to help decorate the hall. Your friends and family will be happy to show their love and friendship by helping make your special day special without breaking the bank.