How Much Should I Tip My Vendors?

To Insure Prompt Service. TIPS. The age old way of giving a monetary incentive, above and beyond that which was formerly agreed upon, to encourage or complement service that is above and beyond that which was expected. All that to say,

tipping YOUR WEDDING VENDORS is a SUPER personal choice.

If you, yourself, are a server or work in a tip based industry, then you likely appreciate and understand the dynamics of a tip. My husband works in a service based industry where most of his customers understand, 'hey, you're doing hard physical labor, something we could do ourselves but can't/don't/won't want to ourselves and you excelled at it. Here's a tip.'

But then there are other people who are completely clueless and a bit self-indulged (I can say this because I'm an only child - the epitome of self- anything. self-sufficient, self-confident, self-absorbed (?), suuuper humble).

Regardless, we (my husband and I) have come to truly understand, through numerous existential conversation about the world and our place in it, why we choose to tip or not. And a tip isn't less than 10%, a tip isn't rounding up to the nearest dollar.

This post is NOT written to convince you to tip or not. It is merely a guide offered to assist you, brides, and you, grooms, when you want to know, 'how much should I tip my vendors?'.

Carrie + Dave // Kelly Birch Photography // Bloom Lake Barn // A Vintage Touch weddings // Menu napkin fold // Sixpence Events // How much should I tip the caterer


Your servers are going to buss your tables.

Think about that impact. Guests will feel as though they can stay seated at their table and chat and visit without putting an elbow in their dirty plate - it encourages a flow. Like now that you are done with dinner and you're plate is cleared, you can - get up and dance - you can go watch the cake cutting and bring another plate of dessert back to your place setting - you can go talk to Aunt Norris at her clean and cleared table.

Servers get your guests extra napkins, more butter, they fill their water goblets and clear off cups filled with ice, limes and straws (i.e. empty). Servers should be thanked. Personally, my husband and I both agree that 15-20$ per server is fair. But I have heard more than one catering manager mention 50-100$. Technically the head chef and sous chef are the ones creating your meal, they should also get tipped and perhaps more than the servers, and also there is someone washing all the dishes and perhaps you could tip them as well for not calling in sick for the day.

Slippery slope. 

I suggest starting by taking 20% of your event productions cost or service charge, that's what you'll have to play with. Then divvy it up how you see fit. Still confused? Comment below or zip me an email, I'll help you my friend.

Carrie + Dave // Kelly Birch Photography // Bloom Lake Barn // A Vintage Touch weddings // Menu napkin fold // Sixpence Events // how much should I tip my wedding photographer


Remember that first part about to insure prompt service? Your photographer and videographer could be the type of people whom when tipped expedite their work. I'm not guaranteeing it, but tipping your photographer and videographer 20% COULD make it so that you get your wedding photos back faster.

It's also a nice thing to do, in my opinion, since these people are busting their hump to ensure they get the shot and you have permanent and tangible memories of your best day ever.

Furthermore, most photographers (and most planners, and some florists and most DJs) are self-employed. Most of them are going to be out in the wiles of nature (100 degrees, windy, rainy) stretching their bodies, squatting, and lugging equipment, all to get the shot. I could rant about this all day long, but I think you're taking the hint. You should tip your wedding photographer.

Carrie + Dave // Kelly Birch Photography // Bloom Lake Barn // A Vintage Touch weddings // Sixpence Events // how much should I tip my DJ


Just wondering, did you already tip your DJ? Some will include and require a tip, they'll add a gratuity line to your final bill, and it will be filled out and you'll have already paid it. Sorry, but I think this is usually complete bullshit.

A DJ can easily earn a tip, for real. They can be solely responsible for keeping your reception timeline on time (like if you don't have a wedding planner), for making your guests feel at ease (like if the servers are cranky or the food is cold), for keeping the flow of the night flowing and the dance floor poppin (like exactly how you want your wedding night to go).

But they can also suck.

To tip before you know what kind of service you are getting seems both terrifying and a waste of money. I would caution you to question why the gratuity is included in your bill. Also, always read your bills and yo' contracts.

Of course, if the DJ is amazing, %20 tip! Can you tell I've had a shaky past with wedding DJs?

Carrie + Dave // Kelly Birch Photography // Bloom Lake Barn // A Vintage Touch weddings // Menu napkin fold // Sixpence Events // Brett Dorian // how much should I tip my hair and makeup artist


Uh, you tip the gal that cuts your hair and the guy who shaves your fade don't you? Then why would your wedding day, THE DAY THAT YOU WANT TO LOOK YOUR ABSOLUTE BESTEST, be any different?

Bridal parties: It might be wise, to tip based on the total bill and not just the cost for you to have your hair did. This holds especially true if you're wedding party is paying for their own hair and makeup. I also suggest collecting this payment at rehearsal dinner (a great task for your personal attendant) or right away in the AM. It makes it less awkward come time to vacate the bridal suite.

Carrie + Dave // Kelly Birch Photography // Bloom Lake Barn // A Vintage Touch weddings // Menu napkin fold // Sixpence Events // how much should i tip my officiant


There are different types of officiants, right? There's the kind from a church, who officiate for free, whom you should tip by donating to the church in their honor. There's the kind that are non-denominational and should be tipped 15-20% if they especially blow your socks off and make the wedding process smooth and make people laugh and cry and sigh and chortle during your ceremony.

Then there's the kind that have no idea what they are doing, but got certified online because they love you (or because you did it for them). Friends can get tipped too, especially if they are public speaking at the most important event in your life for free. $100 is a great tip for friends (or for the former donating to the church).

I would caution that if you want to donate something to the church that you are using for your wedding, instead of a monetary 'thank you for letting us get married here', well, maybe think about the fact that churches are businesses too. And while they do get moderately unjustified tax breaks, if you are truly in support of your church, you should truly support them. Donating candelabras doesn't pay the electricity bill.

Carrie + Dave // Kelly Birch Photography // Bloom Lake Barn // A Vintage Touch weddings // bright pink in wedding bouquet with roses, blue thistle, astilbe , seeded eucalyptus // Sixpence Events // how much should i tip my florist


Similar to the difference between ordering your food at the counter and having your food served to you, I think florists should get tipped based on how far they go to get you your flowers. Some of you may be opting to pick up your flowers and set them up on your own (or have me set them up), in which case I just don't know if a tip is warranted. Aside from if you have a moment, when you pick them up from the warehouse, where your mind is blown because they are beyond-your-wildest-dreams gorgeous. 

If, however, your florist is delivering the flowers, setting them up, and then returning at the end of the night for clean up. Holy Hannah that's a lot of hustle and YES I think you should tip them 15-20% of the LABOR fee. I say labor because earlier I advised you to tip your caterer based on their labor fee, and not the cost of the food, so too/also not the cost of the flowers.

Carrie + Dave // Kelly Birch Photography // Bloom Lake Barn // A Vintage Touch weddings // Sixpence Events //  how much should I tip my wedding planner


*COUGH* If you had a rockin' engagement and a stress free day, I guarantee you that your wedding planner played a huge role in that. Just ask ANYONE who did not hire a wedding planner. Yours would not mind monetary gratitude. They would not.

Also if you have your wedding planner racing around, setting up, tearing down, carrying 30 feet of garland 150 yards, resetting up, moving chairs, stacking chairs, bathroom attending, serving food, bussing tables, ET CETERA. They should be tipped for their sweat.

That being said I've been tipped in many ways. Immediate reviews on Google and the Knot and Facebook and Wedding Wire. Always a thumbs up. I've been tipped with gifts cards ($100 usually), ALWAYS appreciated. But, of course, the best bonus, the one that makes you feel like, 'yes. I did succeed!', is going to be a cash tip. I usually get tipped 5-20%. That's a huge range that translates to $50-300. 

Again, I like to go the 20% route, so whip out your TI-89 and do some quick multiplication ($COST OF WEDDING PLANNER X 0.20 = tip).


As I wrote this I truly struggled to give you something that wasn't wishy washy. Why? Because tipping is based on cultural norms. In America, we tip when a service is provided. We tip the pizza delivery guy, we tip valet, we tip servers and bartenders, we tip the lady who cashes out our slot winnings and the person who cuts our hair. There's also people who should probably get tipped but don't always, like furniture movers, and landscapers. Then there's everyone else who provides a service.

Tip because you are happy and you want to make other people happy. Don't overthink it like, 'well they must make a lot of money because this costs a lot of money and therefore I should keep all of my money to myself'.


Tip because you appreciate the service you got.

When your creating your wedding budget set aside 20% for tips, and you won't have to think twice about what else you could do with that money. That money is for thanking, and believe me, without good wedding vendors, you will NOT have a good wedding... so thank them!

Prosperity, Love & Happiness,


P.S. Header photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash. All other photos by Kelly Birch Photography