A wedding can be a dizzying orchestration of many moving parts that come together (hopefully!) seamlessly, thanks to the numerous, talented people working behind the scenes. Wedding vendors are the professionals that a couple hires to help them plan and execute every aspect of their special day, which can include caterers, bakers, florists, photographers, and hair, makeup, and nail artists, just to name a few.
You may already be paying top dollar for their services, but tipping your wedding vendors is one of the best ways to thank them for a job well done. However, it can be confusing to know exactly who to tip and how much.
In addition to tipping, a thank you note and/or a shout out on social media is always appreciated.
Fear not about committing a tipping faux pas, for we have you covered. We asked wedding industry pros exactly how much to tip your wedding vendors, along with other ways you can show gratitude to the people who've helped you pull off one of the best parties of your life.
Is tipping mandatory?
The vendors who are working at your wedding are already getting paid, but giving a generous tip on top of that shows your gratitude — and it's regarded as good etiquette to do so, too.
"Tipping isn’t mandatory, it’s at your discretion. However, it is very much appreciated by your vendors," says Melisa Imberman, owner of wedding-planning company The Event of a Lifetime, Inc. "I recommend tipping everyone that worked hard to make your wedding day special."
Keep in mind that depending on the vendor and the size of their team, a wedding can be an all-day or weekend-long affair ... and once your wedding day is over, they likely do it all over again for a different couple the very next week.
How much should you tip your wedding vendors?
Before you begin budgeting how much to tip your wedding vendors, check the fine print first. "Please read your contracts," says Dani Dunmire, owner of First Dance Lexington."Many food/beverage contracts include gratuity."
But for those vendors whose contracts don't include a tip or any fees other than their services at the wedding, just know that the amounts you tip will likely not be consistent across vendors since there are so many factors to keep in mind.
"The tip amount per vendor differs based on how much work they did leading up to the wedding, as well as how much work they did on the actual wedding day," says wedding planner and designer Jove Meyer.
As a starting point, he gives the below breakdown of tip ranges per vendor.
- Hair/Makeup: 18-25% of the total bill
- Catering: 15-20% of the overall bill
- Florist: 5-10% of the overall bill
- Lighting: 5-10% of the overall bill
- Transportation: $50-$200 per driver, depending on how long they worked
- Photographer: $150-$400
- Videographer: $150-$400
- Photobooth Setup: $50-$100 per person
- Planner: 10-20% of the planning fee
- DJ: 10-20% of their fee
- Band: $50-$200 per band member
Jove adds that it's also important to consider that, for vendors who work in a team, your tip will be split among the people who worked on your wedding.
As for when to tip your vendors? It makes sense to give your tip after the wedding takes place, ideally alongside paying your bill. But for vendors that you don't communicate with post-wedding, try to prioritize your tip on a similar timeline to your thank-you cards, if not sooner.
"Many vendors receive tips, thank you cards, and reviews months after the wedding," says Dunmire. "Don't feel you need to do that on your wedding night."
Do you tip vendors who own their business?
Traditionally, whether for a wedding or non-wedding service, you don't tip the owner of a business, just the employees. For example, a freelance photographer working solo would be considered a wedding business owner.
"You only need to tip [the owner] if they go above and beyond," Dunmire says. "But don't feel obligated."
However, some experts feel differently.
"This is a hot topic," says Meyer. "The owners of small businesses that show up and work your wedding work very hard and deserve to be tipped as much as the other vendors, and they will also share that tip with their team."
If you loved the job that your vendors did to bring your wedding vision to life, just know that there are other things to do beyond tipping that can make a difference. Recommending their services to any just-engaged friends and family is also a great way to pay it forward.
"In addition to tipping (or in lieu of if need be), a thank you note and/or a shout out on social media is always appreciated," says Imberman.
Melanie Yates is the senior service editor of Best Products, where she writes and reports pieces pertaining to the etiquette, dilemmas, and how-tos of gift-giving for different occasions. Previously, she was the site's senior home editor, covering all things decor- and bedding-related since 2015. Her digital byline can also be found on Bustle, House Beautiful, and Elle Decor. A longtime classical-music enthusiast, Melanie spends her off-hours enjoying performances big and small across New York City.