Tipping Etiquette: When and How To Tip At Your Wedding


Feb 21, 2019

Wedding Planning Tips // Tipping Etiquette at Your Wedding // Wedding Photographers Huntsville Alabama

Especially in the south, we’re all about the etiquette! Southern manners have etiquette built right in. But what happens when you want to do the proper thing…and don’t know what you’re supposed to do?

Tipping at the wedding is one of those times for many southern brides. You’ve heard that you’re supposed to hand out tips, but who gets them? How much? And when is the proper time to hand it out?

Today on the blog, we’re diving into some wedding tip etiquette guidelines to give you an idea of what’s standard. You’ll find a breakdown of who to tip, a general idea of how much and when, and grab a few bonus tips to help out.

Do I Have To Tip?

As with a lot of traditional wedding practices, the lines of tipping at modern weddings have become a little blurred. No longer do all the “you must” and “you must not” wedding rules apply.

General rule of thumb: if a vendor owns his/her own business, tipping isn’t necessary. If someone is the employee of someone else, tipping is more likely to be expected (but still not absolutely required).

Like always, tipping is (or should be) a sign of appreciation. Even with these guidelines, tipping isn’t absolutely required. There are a few instances when it may be expected by the vendor, so be consider of that. Hair and makeup, transportation, bartending, and catering are services where tipping are somewhat expected. For this reason, gratuity is often included in the final bill. If not, you’ll want to consider doing so yourself.

They Were Amazing.

Even if a tip isn’t technically required, consider tipping vendors who really went above and beyond for you. Especially if they’ve been working with you in the months leading up to the wedding – like your planner – it’s really thoughtful to show your appreciation.

That doesn’t just go for planners, either. If your cake artist, photographer, videographer, or florist just blew you away with more than you even dreamed, now’s your chance to show how much you loved and appreciated them!

Who gives them out?

Delegate someone else to be in charge of handing out tips on the wedding day. Stash your cash tip in an envelope, clearly label the outside, and give instructions for when to hand them out to each vendor. Often the wedding planner will be in charge of making sure they get to the right place. Otherwise, a trusted family member or even a groomsman could be delegated for the task.

Who, When, and How To Tip

Guidelines vary quite a bit, especially on who exactly should be tipped. Some expert sources will tell you to tip almost everyone, and others think tipping is completely optional. I did some research and put together a guideline that fits the most popular ideas of etiquette on the topic.

  1. Wedding Planner

    • Optional. This is one area where you may still want to consider a tip or a gift of appreciation, though!
    • How much? You can choose to tip 15% of the total fee, or up to $500. Since this tip is optional, they will appreciate any amount.
    • When? At the end of the reception or in the mail after the honeymoon.
  2. Hair and Makeup Artist

    • Expected. You can tip the full amount, or you can ask each of your bridesmaids/family members to tip individually.
    • How much? The standard 15-20%.
    • When? After services are provided.
  3. Delivery and Set Up Team

    • Optional.
    • How much? $5-$10 per staff member.
    • When? After the delivery or set up. Give the envelopes to whoever will be accepting deliveries to hand out to staff members.
  4. Photographer/Videographer

    • Optional. If they went above and beyond, this is another area you may want to consider a tip or a gift. They’re at your side from the beginning of the day until the end and often spend a lot of time with you before the wedding, similar to your planner.
    • How much? Anywhere from $50-$500. There’s no standard, since business owners are not usually tipped. Give what you feel is appropriate, or give a gift instead!
    • When? At the end of the reception or in the mail after the honeymoon.
  5. Officiant

    • Optional. If they spent time in pre-marital counseling or are providing their services for free, consider a donation to their place of worship instead.
    • How much? Around $25-50.
    • When? At the rehearsal dinner, if giving a personal tip. After the honeymoon if sending directly to a place of worship.
  6. Ceremony Musicians

    • Optional.
    • How much? $20-25 per musician.
    • When? Before the ceremony musicians leave on the wedding day.
  7. Florist/Cake Artist 

    • Optional
    • How much? No set amount, since it’s not expected. $50-100 is a nice gesture if you’ve been really impressed with their work and their service.
    • When? They may be at the venue only briefly, so it may be mailed after the honeymoon if you weren’t able to catch them on the wedding day.
  8. Catering or Reception Event Manager

    • Expected
    • How much? $200-250, but it can be more or less depending on the level of service
    • When? At the end of the reception
  9. Catering

    • Expected. Check to see if gratuity is already included in the contract and final bill.
    • How much? $50-100 for the chef; either 15-20% of the total bill or $10-30 given individually to each of the servers.
    • When? At the end of the reception.
  10. Bartender

    • Expected. Check to see if gratuity is already included in the contract and final bill.
    • How much? 10% of the total bill or $25-50 per bartender.
    • When? At the end of the reception.
  11. DJ/Band

    • Optional
    • How much? $20-25 per musician; up to $150 for a single DJ
    • When? At the end of the reception.
  12. Valet

    • Expected. If you’re covering the tip, you can ask the attendants not to accept tips from guests.
    • How much? $1-2 per car
    • When? At the end of the reception.
  13. Transportation

    • Expected. Check to see if gratuity is already included in the contract and final bill.
    • How much? 15% or $25-50.
    • When? After the last ride of the evening.

Showing Appreciation Doesn’t Always Have To Be Cash

If you simply don’t have the budget to give a cash tip to your favorite vendors, there are other ways to show your appreciation.

1. Write a review

Writing a kind and detailed review for your vendors is always appreciated and doesn’t cost anything! WeddingWire, The Knot, Google, and any other wedding website you used are great options for reviews.

Go above and beyond by copying your Wedding Wire review and also posting it to Google and The Knot. It literally takes 10 extra seconds, and it will help your vendors out!

2. Send a heartfelt thank you note to your vendors

Tell them what you appreciated most about their services and that you were thankful to have them as part of your wedding. It will make their day!

3. Give a gift

A thoughtful gift instead of a cash tip gives you more creativity in showing your appreciation. If you know a little about them personally, find something that reflects something they love. Their dog, traveling, coffee, cooking. Jump on their website or Instagram for some ideas. If you can’t think of anything unique, a gift card to a restaurant or local boutique is always a winner.

4. Referrals – tell your friends!

This is even better than any tip you could ever give a wedding professional! A lot of future weddings come from word of mouth from past brides, their families, and their wedding guests. If you loved your vendor, tell your friends why they were an amazing choice. The more specific you are in talking about your experience, the more  your friends will be able to envision themselves with that vendor, as well.

A Few Last Tips (no pun intended!)

1. Check each vendor’s contract (or ask) to see if gratuity is already included. Catering, bar tenders, and transportation often include gratuities in the final bill.

2. The exact amount you give isn’t as important as the gesture. You’ll find slightly different amount suggestions depending on who you ask. Don’t stress much about whether the proper amount is 20% of the total bill or $50 or $100. Take a look at the typical recommended amount, decide what works in your budget, and include a “thank you” with whatever amount you give.

3. If you’re planning to tip the bar tender, valet, or coat attendants, you may want to include a little sign that tells your guests the tip has been taken care of. Your guests may be trying to tip, not knowing that you’ve already done so.


Tipping etiquette can be a little vague, so we hope this give you an idea of what to expect! Tipping is not absolutely mandatory, even when a vendor may be expecting it. You have the freedom to use your judgement!

Use tips to show your appreciation for how a vendor served you on the wedding day and beyond. If you don’t want to offend but aren’t sure what certain vendors are expecting (like your catering staff and hair and makeup artist), you can always ask!

Do you have any tips on the tipping protocol? It varies quite a bit, and we’d love to hear your opinion. Share your thoughts in the comments below!



Looking for more wedding planning tips? We’ve got a whole Tidbit collection just waiting for you to discover – things like 3 Reasons To Have A Private Bride and Groom Meal and Quick Tips For Your Wedding Day Timeline.

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Wedding Tipping Etiquette
  1. My sister wants to hold a wedding this year, and that is why she’s starting to look for an affordable wedding package. Aside from this, I also agree with you that she must choose a spacious venue. I’ll keep in mind to tip the vendors too.

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