Tips

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.

Two Weeks to the Wedding Day

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Wedding CountdownWith the clock ticking down and your bid day closing in, it can be very easy to have your stress levels soar. No matter how well you’ve planned your wedding and poured over each detail, you will likely find yourself double and triple checking everything up until you walk down the aisle. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lot of sleepless nights and added stress that won’t make your wedding day any more enjoyable, not to mention that you run the risk of looking tired or stressed out on your big day. The good news is that there are some techniques you can use to alleviate that stress and enter your wedding day with a relaxed attitude, and here are some of those things that you can do with very little effort.

Create a List

One of the simplest ways to stay on top of everything and keep your stress in check is to create a very comprehensive list of tasks that need to be completed leading up to your wedding. As you go down the list and cross things off, make sure you don’t revisit them. Sure, there are things that will need to be done at the last minute; but obsessing over details that are already taken care of can add unwanted stress and take time away from taking care of other tasks.

Assign Jobs

One of the easiest mistakes to make when you are a bride is to try to do everything yourself. Never forget that you have assembled a great team of bridesmaids that can help you with these tasks and make sure you assign jobs to each of them. Additionally, you’re friends and family will likely be more than happy to help out as well, so make sure you tap all the available resources and move as much responsibility as possible off of your own plate and onto others’.

Handle the Formalities

Whether you’re talking about changing your name or filing your marriage certificate, make sure you have your ducks in a row before your big day. There’s nothing worse after scrambling to pull off a great wedding than to move right to the next challenge, so making this stuff easy on you is always a great plan. Personally, I chose to sign the marriage certificate the night before the wedding ceremony to take some of the stress off on my big day, but that choice certainly isn’t for everyone.

Incoming Guests

Most weddings will have several guests that are traveling in from other states. If you wait until the last minute to plan for their arrival, this can create a whole new set of problems and challenges that can detract from other priorities. Make sure you have everything setup in advance such as accommodations and activities so you’re not scrambling to take care of them at the last second.

Final Counts

Make sure you get an accurate tally of all the confirmed guests and give that number to your caterer. The last thing you want to have happen is to run out of food or cake during the reception, so make sure you have a good final head count to give to the caterer.

Guest Seating

Though you would ideally have this done well in advance, chances are there will be some last minute additions and subtractions with your guest list that will require you to change some seating arrangements. If seats open up at the most important tables where parents, grandparents, and other close family will be sitting, make sure you fill them in with the next logical choice and work backwards from there.

The last two weeks before your wedding are always a little hectic and stressful, but that doesn’t mean you need to enter your wedding day exhausted and grumpy. By following some of these pieces of advice and making sure you have everything planned out in advance, you can have a relaxing wedding day that goes off without a hitch.

Money Saving Wedding Tips

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MP3 PlayerWith so many expenses involved with planning a wedding, it’s only logical for most couples to try to find ways to save money. Even if you have a very large wedding budget, things can start to add up very quickly and require you to make tough decisions about what is most important to you. Fortunately, not everything needs to cost an arm and a leg if you know a few tricks of the trade and places where you can cut down on some of the costs. Here is some popular money saving wedding ideas that will help you keep your bottom line in check without needing to sacrifice the things that are most important to you about your wedding.

Invitations

Invitations are a very important part of any wedding, but there are ways to save you from spending way too much for absolutely no reason at all. Many couples make the mistake of creating very elaborate wedding invitations, but the fact of the matter is that it really isn’t necessary or a very good use of your money. Most of your guests are going to look at your invitation once, mark the date on their calendar, and never look at the invitation again. If you want something that looks really nice inside the invitation, include a small date reminder card that they can hang on the fridge and keep the rest of the card simple.

The parts of a wedding invitation that usually racks up the largest fees are full color printing and fancy raised-letters. Though it may seem like it’s worth the money, you get the same reaction from your guests whether you wedding invitations are printed on a fancy press or if you print them at home on your inkjet printer.

Wedding Venues

One of the easiest ways to save money when booking your wedding venues is to choose a location that will work for both the ceremony and the reception. Ideally, you will find a venue that has a separate area like a garden where the ceremony can take place as well as a reception hall so you can still create a separation between the two parts of the event. Even if your ceremony needs to take place inside the reception hall, you can always bring out some lattice or other decorations to make it look different during the ceremony portion of the event.

Additionally, you should try to find a venue that includes things like tablecloths, chairs, and other decorative elements as part of the standard rental fee. Though you’ll still need to add more decorations yourself, eliminating the need to rent or purchase as many items as possible can save you thousands of dollars in the end.

Wedding Flowers

Instead of buying real flowers for your centerpieces, consider an alternative like wooden flowers or paper flowers. They will be just as lovely as real flowers, but they will only cost a fraction of the price. You should still buy real flowers for the bride’s bouquet and for the corsages and boutonnieres that the wedding party wears, but all of the decorative flowers can be substituted with appropriate alternatives.

Decorations

Creating your own decorations can save you a lot of money, and it can be a fun bonding experience with your bridesmaids! Consider having some decoration parties in the weeks and months leading up to your wedding where you and your friends make wedding decorations together over a few glasses of wine. There are thousands of great DIY wedding decoration projects that you can find online, so your options are virtually limitless and you can save a ton of money in the process.

Food and Drink

Food and drink costs will be one of your biggest expenses, so being creative with your budget can go a long way. First, you should choose an inexpensive meal for your guests such as pasta to save as much money on the catering bill as possible. Next, you should eliminate the open bar and opt for a cash bar instead or only offer keg beer for free. By having your guests pay for their own drinks, you can save a lot of money on your wedding.

Music

Though hiring a DJ or live band may be an attractive idea on the surface, it is also very expensive. Instead, consider putting together a playlist of your own on your laptop or favorite MP3 player. You may need to rent an amp and some speakers unless you have a friend that can supply these items, but it will still be a lot cheaper than hiring a professional. Plus, you can ensure that only songs you like are played during your reception while at the same time saving a ton on your wedding.

Unique Ways to Personalize Your Wedding

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Muscle Wedding CarPlanning your wedding is a very personal experience, so finding unique ways to express who you are as a couple is very important. Every element from the music to the decorations is a great opportunity to personalize your wedding, so it is very important to take advantage of every part. With everything you need to do to plan your wedding, it can seem a little overwhelming trying to find ways to make it more personal, but its really not to difficult with some planning. Here are some tips to help you find unique ways to personalize your wedding without making things too stressful or expensive.

Invitations

When you put together your invitations, try to find a way that makes them more personal to you as a couples. A good idea is to include a small card that explains the story of how you met or some of the dreams you share together. You can also choose graphics that your friends and family will recognize as being inherently “you”.

Menu

The food you serve is a fun and easy way to personalize your wedding reception. Think of a dish that really sums up who you are as a couple or that everyone knows is your favorite. You can also do the same with the appetizers and wedding cake if you’re feeling up to the challenge.

Transportation

Rather than going with the traditional limo for your wedding car, you can think outside the box and choose something that really illustrates your personal style. If you are a big fun of pickup trucks, you could rent a big-tired mudding truck. If you really love classic cars, you could rent an American muscle car with all the power you could dream of under the hood. What ever strikes your fancy, you can use it to personalize your wedding even further.

Pictures

Pictures can tell the story of your romance better than almost anything else, so why not frame some up and set them around your reception hall? Your guests will love the personal touch that candid photos will provide, plus they will act as a great conversation piece. Another hidden benefit of putting lots of photos around at your reception is that it will save on decorating costs while still being romantic and fun.

Formal Wear

Your wedding dress and tuxedo will be some of the most visual examples of who you are, so make sure you choose items that express who you are in great detail. A popular way to do this is to choose a specific historical time period that you both enjoy such as the renaissance period or the roaring twenties and model your outfits accordingly. Don’t be afraid to personalize every part of your wedding and make the day as unique as possible because you will probably only get one wedding day.

3 Tips for Avoiding Wedding Day Disasters

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Wedding DiasterMost couples put a lot of time and effort into planning their wedding and making sure that every single detail is planned within an inch of its life. With so much thought and painstaking preparation put into every detail, having a disaster occur at your wedding can ruin the mood in a big hurry. Nothing can turn an enjoyable wedding celebration into a nightmare faster than something terrible happening, and it can make the entire event seem cheap and unpleasant. Fortunately, there are 3 tips to help you prepare and deal with potential wedding day disasters that can give you peace of mind and ensure that you are prepared for anything that life throws at you on your big day.

1. A Vendor Doesn’t Show Up

One of the worst feelings in the world is to be standing around on your wedding day waiting for a vendor to show up. You call them several times, but you can’t seem to reach anyone and they are very late to arrive. The best way to handle a vendor catastrophe is to avoid it all together by properly vetting your vendors in advance. Make sure the vendor has a great track record and that you specify exactly who will be in charge of delivering your services and obtain their direct contact information.

Though vetting your wedding vendors will help eliminate the risk, what do you do if you find yourself in this situation anyways? The best contingency plan is to buy wedding insurance. Wedding insurance will make sure you are completely reimbursed if you have a problem with a vendor not showing up, and typically it only costs less than 1% of your total wedding bill. While it won’t make your flowers show up on time, at least you won’t be out the money you spent on the flowers in the first place.

2. When It Rains, It Pours

One of the worst-case scenarios for many couples is to have severe weather make an appearance on their big day. Besides being considered “bad luck” to many people, having rain or other severe weather show up on your wedding day can seem like a disaster and quickly ruin the fun. The best thing to do is plan ahead and make sure you are as prepared as possible in case Mother Nature unleashes her fury.

Make sure you have some umbrellas for the people in the wedding party. It is also a good idea to have some sort of small canopy on hand to put of the altar to keep the bride and groom dry. The best idea is to have a location inside such as your reception hall to act as the ceremony venue in case of rain, but this isn’t always feasible. Just keep in mind that bad weather is always a possibility and that you should be prepared just in case it happens.

3. An Unexpected Death

Having a friend or family member die unexpectedly in the days or weeks leading up to your wedding can be an overwhelming disaster. Depending on how close the person was to the bride and groom, it can cause stress and hardship to what would otherwise be an exciting time.

If the person who passed away was in the wedding, you should find someone who was close to them to take their place. This not only fills the spot, but also pays a great homage to the absent loved one. Also, many couples choose to put an additional element into the ceremony such as lighting a candle for their loved one or releasing a wish lantern after they say their vows. It is very common for couples to recognize those who couldn’t be there with them in person at a ceremony, so including your friend or family member in this way can help to make the day seem whole again.