Giving gratuities on a wedding day can be a sensitive subject, one that has come up in conversation on more than one occasion at a Brooklyn Betrothed meeting. Who should get tips, when should they be distributed, how much, etc.
First off it’s my recommendation that you delegate someone trustworthy to take on the responsibility of distributing cash and checks on your wedding day. This is a service I offer all my clients. Review any final payments and all gratuities one week before your wedding. Write the checks in advance and label the envelopes with the vendors’ names and add a post-it note to indicate the time of the day or evening you want it distributed and if a gratuity is contingent on anything. (Actual thank you notes with a hand written message from the couple with payments or gratuity is so sweet and remembered/appreciated by vendors, I promise.)
While it’s not uncommon for couples to resist giving up control of their money; writing checks, running to ATMs, counting cash and finding vendors are not how most want to be spending their time during their wedding reception. The night is going to go fast enough; delegate the responsibilities so you can celebrate and enjoy every second of the festivities you’ve planned and paid for.
That said, gratuities for your wedding professionals are most certainly not expected and are 100% at your discretion.
It’s common to tip hair and make-up professionals the standard rate of what you would at a salon, so 15-20%.
Drivers would also be acknowledged in the same manner as if you were going to take a cab or a car service. So gratuity should be determined on length of trip, number of passengers, etc.
A gratuity for the catering staff is a must, but this is often included in the catering contract. This is something you will want to confirm with your catering contact.
It’s also common to tip head chefs and the maître d as they are the ones responsible for and overseeing the good service and food your guests are enjoying.
When live bands are performing, if they have done an amazing job and packed the dance floor all night (assuming that was the goal) $25-50 per band member is generous. This could be lumped together, and given to the leader of the band at the end of the night, but small bills are appreciated so they can distribute the tips accordingly.)
The people at your venue are working hard for you. It may not be obvious but it would be obvious if things were not running smoothly in terms of lighting, temperature and overall logistics. As a wedding planner, I am in constant contact with the venue as they are my silent partner in making sure the day runs flawlessly. It’s also a long day for them and typically a late night as they are often the key holder waiting on the florists, lighting and rentals being broken down and retrieved. If you’ve found they have been easy to reach, open to easing your anxiety and knowledgeable in handling any wedding day woes, I know they’d like knowing how much you appreciate their often behind-the -scenes orchestrating.
You hope that you’ve hired people who will exceed expectations and it’s their responsibility to price their services accordingly. Should things come up, plans change, schedules extend or situations require vendors to go beyond the terms of their contract, such as staying late, working extra, pitching in in ways not previously outlined, cash gratuities are an excellent way of expressing your sincere appreciation.
Maybe more than money, know what we love? Thank yous, testimonials and on-line reviews. Referrals thrill us more than you can imagine. If your guests are raving, forward us the email, we’d love to see it! While you’re still on a high from your wedding day, jot us an email sharing your thoughts from the day. We are a sincere and captive audience and welcome positive feedback from your wedding day!
If you have specific questions about gratuities, know others may share your need for clarification, so please leave a comment here and I’ll respond promptly. If it’s of a more private nature, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll answer your question personally.
Happy planning!xo, Tammy
Note to vendors/Personal pet peeve:
PLEASE do not ask, prompt or indicate in any way that you are looking for/expecting a tip. I feel like this should be an obvious “no brainer,” but I’ve had two incidents, one recent, where I’ve had to ask that tip jars or the signage be removed, assuring the service provider that the client has accounted for all gratuities and we do not want guests tipping from their pockets.