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Tipping Tips

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When you’ve already had to smash a few piggy banks (and credit-card limits) to cover all your wedding expenses, the idea of handing over additional gratuities to expensive vendors may leave you feeling less than grateful. While you will occasionally hear that you don’t actually have to tip any of your vendors above and beyond their contracts, common practice has made tipping certain vendors standard, and you run the risk of offending them if you forgo it.

Not to worry – the amount you tip is usually directly related to the cost of your wedding and rarely exceeds a few hundred dollars. To save yourself any last-minute stress, budget for your benefactions from the start, recommends Anja Winikka, editor of A few general guidelines to get you started include: No need to tip florists, photographers, cake bakers or owners of companies unless they provide exceptional service; unless otherwise noted in a contract, tips are generally handed out immediately following the completion of a service; and, because you’ll be busy dancing and chatting with scores of people all night long, assign tip-doling duty to your wedding planner, the best man, the maid-of-honor or a close friend or relative who might enjoy being involved in your wedding.

That said, it’s a good idea for the bride and groom to have a few extra tens or twenties readily available, advises Winikka, in case of emergencies like a car breakdown or if someone goes above and beyond in the service they provide.

For everything else, here’s a simple checklist to help get your started.

Whom to tip: Probably the least controversial tip recipients are the hair stylist and the make-up artist.

How much: “Typically you tip between 15 and 25 percent, depending on what the standards are where you live in the country,” says Winikka. “And consider tipping more like 30 percent if the stylist travels to you and does the work on-site.”

Whom to tip: It is becoming more and more standard to tip your musicians, both those that play the ceremony and those that play the reception, as well as DJs. Setting the mood and entertaining your guests for two to five hours is well worth a few extra bucks.

How much: The typical payout is $20 to $25 per musician, or $50 to $150 for a DJ, says Winikka.

Whom to tip: It’s often said that you don’t need to tip your wedding planner, but consider the fact that not only has this person spent months helping you plan your wedding, they also will work eight or more hours during the actual event, taking care of a thousand details that you will likely never even be aware of. Kathie Millen, co-owner of Austin Wedding Planners in Austin, Texas, says that she receives tips about 50 percent of the time.

How much: “It’s usually around 18 percent down here,” says Millen, “but I’ve received tips from $20 to $1,000. The dollar amount isn’t as important as the gesture and recognizing the service performed.” In the case of tipping a wedding planner, a bride or her parents might take care of this one tip at the end of the night, or mail a check with a handwritten thank you note a few days later.

Whom to tip: Unless it’s already included in the contract, you’ll want to tip your on-site coordinator, maître d’ or banquet manager. “This person is there from beginning to end, making sure that the servers are doing a good job, and that dinner is served on time so that you can cut the cake, have your dance and get out there to greet your guests,” says Winikka.

How much: 15-20 percent of the food and drink fee, or usually between $100 and $300.

Whom to tip: Gratuity for wait staff and bartenders is standard, but caterers almost always wrap it in to the total price, so be sure you check your contract, advises Millen.

How much: If the tip is not included, budget $20 to $30 per waiter and $25 to $40 per bartender, depending on whether your bar is a simple beer-and-wine affair or includes full premium liquor.

Whom to tip: A little extra cash is well-deserved by the people who deliver and set up your rentals, including tents, chairs, port-a-potties, etc., as well as cake and flower delivery people (unless it’s your actual baker or florist). “Anyone who painstakingly ensures your stuff isn’t damaged,” says Winikka.

How much: $5-$10 per person.

Whom to tip: An officiant affiliated with a church or synagogue will usually request a donation in lieu of payment or gratuity. Tipping a nondenominational officiant also is rare, as they typically have a set fee.

How much: Donations of $500 or more to religious institutions are commonplace. If you’re feeling extra generous, you might give a nondenominational officiant $50 to $100 extra, but simply inviting them to the reception is more common and a nice gesture, says Winikka.

Whom to tip: Bus drivers who cart your guests and limo drivers who whisk you away into the night will certainly expect a tip.

How much: Most contracts include the gratuity, but otherwise it’s 15 to 20 percent, says Winikka. Provided they don’t get lost.

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