Tips for Tipping

Which wedding professionals should you tip? And how much? The answers may surprise you. Jessica Hatter, Catering Sales Manager for Hidden Creek Country Club in Reston put together the following research and great tips on tipping …

The best tip of all is to simply spread the word about the vendors you love and chose to work with on your wedding day. Discussing their talents and services with others works wonders for their business. Let’s be honest, no one can ever ask for a better tip than a great referral

Tipping is a great way to show your appreciation to your vendors, but it’s never obligatory and is always up to the couple. Some vendors do not expect tips, some appreciate them but don’t expect them and certain vendors 100% expect them. So how do you know who to tip and how much is appropriate?

A recent survey asked both married and unmarried individuals their opinion on what the tip should be for a variety of vendors. Here are the answers given for the average tip, the most popular answer – and  true amount that should be given based on industry norms.

Officiant: Average tip: $129; most popular answer – $100. Now, what’s typical? Most clergy in a house of worship will ask for a donation. This is usually $200 to $500 or more, depending on your house of worship. The officiant will expect a tip/donation. If you are getting married in a less traditional setting, the officiant should be tipped $50 to $100.

Wedding Coordinator: Average tip: $117; most popular answer – $100. This is the person you depend on to make it all come together! Tipping your coordinator is not expected, but preferred. A typical gratuity for an event coordinator is 15% of their bill.

Hair and Makeup Artists: Average tip: $48; most popular answer – $50. Your hair and makeup artists expect tips. On average this should be about 20% of their entire bill.

DJ or Band: Average tip: $56; most popular answer – $100. The DJ or band appreciates a tip, but it’s not expected. A little extra for a DJ or band that played one extra song, stuck to your play list, or pronounced your wedding parties names flawlessly deserves a little something extra at the end of the night! This should be 10% of their bill or $50 per musician.

Photographer: Average tip: $65; most popular answer – $0. The photographer works not only on your wedding day, but also after. Editing photos takes hours to ensure images turn out beautifully. While not necessarily expected, it’s always a nice gesture to let your photographer know you value his/her hard work with about $100 – $200.

Catering Manager/Director or Food & Beverage Manager/Director: Average tip: $28; most popular answer – $0. This vendor appreciates tips. The planning time leading up to your big day is usually most spent with this vendor, and he or she is typically forgotten in the tipping process. Industry standard is $100 – $200 for this vendor.

Catering Staff: Average tip: $51; most popular answer – $0. Ask your catering sales manager about tipping the staff. Some catering services make the service charge the tip and some do not. The service charge is usually not a tip but payment for the staff, including chefs, cooks, and dishwashers, to be at the wedding. Tips for catering staff are expected. Usually the banquet captain is given about $100 to $200 while servers should be given about $25 – $75 each.

Bartender: Average tip: $61; most popular answer – $100. Tipping the bartender is expected. Bartenders should be tipped 10% to 20% based on the alcohol bill. Bartenders are typically bombarded by wedding guests and are thankful for the recognition of their hard work in keeping your guests satisfied and drinks full.

Coat and Restroom Attendant: Average tip: $24; most popular answer – $50. The coat and restroom attendants expect tips. An expected tip is $1 to $2 per guest.

Limo/Transportation Driver: Average tip: $50; most popular answer – $100. Many hotels provide shuttles to and from venues as a courtesy to your guests. If this is the case, a small tip is a nice offering. If you have rented a limo, bus, or some other transportation, tipping the driver(s) is expected. An adequate tip would be 15% of their bill.

Valet: Average tip: $42; most popular answer – $100. The valet expects tips. Tipping should be based on a rate of $1 to $2 per car or 15% to 20% of the bill. Finding parking is especially difficult in cities where it’s limited. Be sure to treat the valet well, as they have expensive equipment to handle in a fast paced atmosphere.

Florist and Cake Baker: Average tip: $17; most popular answer – $0. Florists and bakers do not expect tips. However, if you made a last minute order or your vendor brought along some unexpected flowers or cookies for extra decorations or goodies, a small tip is always appreciated. The delivery drivers dropping off these goods do expect a tip – $10 to $20 is adequate.

Dress Shop/Tailor: Average tip: $8; most popular answer – $0. This vendor does not expect a tip.

With so many things to remember on your big day, take the stress out of tipping and plan ahead. Placing gratuities in marked envelopes eliminates unnecessary wedding day worry. Check your contract to see if any gratuities are included before tipping and, most importantly, never hesitate to ask questions. And remember, the ultimate tipping decision is up to you.

To schedule a tour of Hidden Creek with Jessica and to learn more about the club’s wedding services, call 703-437-5222, ext. 106 and visit


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