All You Need to Know About Wedding Day Gratuities

Keep your budget on track with this pro's guide to understanding the standards for tipping in the wedding industry.
Written by
Mackenzie Sylvester

Planning your wedding budget down to the last dollar means adding up every cost, from invitations to transportation and everything in between. But you still may be missing a vital expense from your budget: vendor gratuity. Your dream team is working hard to create one of the best days of your life, but showing your gratitude adds up quickly. Avoid sticker shock by including tips in your overall budget.

It isn’t always clear, however, who should get this bonus, especially when you aren’t experienced with handling an event of this magnitude. Couples often find themselves at a loss about how to calculate the cost and which vendors should be tipped— and are dismayed to discover on the day of the wedding that their budget just increased. To prepare, think of situations where you would normally include a tip, such as a haircut or dinner out. So it stands to reason that these businesses also are on the list for a gratuity. Along with tipping your hair stylist and caterer, the pros suggest tipping your planner, DJ and/or band, makeup artist, photographer, videographer, florist and bartenders—not to mention day-of staff.

In general, wedding planners suggest aiming for a range of between 10% and 20% for tips. Some planners handle the math for their clients and include gratuities in the total budget, so be sure to ask them. And don’t forget each vendor’s staff as well: the servers with your caterer, the second shooter with the photographer, additional makeup and hair artists for bridesmaids and so on. Wedding planners suggest creating labeled envelopes and giving the envelopes with the tips to your planner to distribute at the end of the night.

If cash feels too impersonal for the fabulous job, consider opting for a meaningful gift of comparable value. Of course, tipping is never mandatory, but it’s a fairly standard custom— especially for a team that’s gone above and beyond.

Wedding Vendors to Consider in Gratuity Distribution


CATERING | You may tip staff individually: catering manager, catering captain, chefs, servers 





MUSICIANS | DJ, live band, or alternatively by member; ceremony, cocktail hour, reception

OFFICIANT | Can consider a donation to religious institution

PHOTOGRAPHER | Remember to consider assistants/second shooters