Listen to this podcast with Maureen Woodman, head wedding planner at The Essex Room, about tipping wedding vendors.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher, and today I’m here with Maureen Woodman, a wedding planner for on and off‑site catered events at the Essex Room in Essex, Massachusetts. Today we’re talking about a guide to tipping wedding vendors.” Welcome, Maureen.
Maureen Woodman: Hi, John. Thanks for having me today.
To Tip or Not to Tip
John: Maureen, are you supposed to tip vendors at your wedding?
Maureen: That’s up to you. A lot of the time, right now, I think that gratuities are included. It’s a nice guideline. A lot of people, this is kind of one of those really weird, gray areas. “Should I tip? Should I not tip? Am I giving too much? Am I not giving enough?”
I always think go with the average. I like it when somebody includes a gratuity, so it gives you a range, but that doesn’t mean you have to give that amount of money, as well as if they went over and above your expectations, I don’t think anyone would feel bad if you gave them more money.
It’s like anything else, it’s up to you. I would say most people that are expecting a gratuity in 2015 are putting it on their invoice.
Which Vendors to Tip
John: Which vendors should you tip, and how much? Can you walk through some of the typical vendors at your wedding?
Maureen: If you get your hair done, just like when you get your hair cut, a lot of times I don’t think the tip is included. I always think 20 percent is a way to go. If you’re there for three hours, with a cut, and a color, you may want to give a little bit more money.
Of course, if you have a very fancy up‑do on your wedding, I would say it’s not unusual to get probably around 30 percent. It takes a lot of work to do some of these really fancy up‑dos right now.
John: That’s one of these cases where you’re paying the salon, but that individual person who’s doing your hair maybe isn’t getting all of that. Giving them a little bit extra, because of all that work that they’re doing, is a nice thing to do.
Maureen: The makeup now has really become popular, and the eyelashes with the extensions. Some girls may not be getting their makeup done, but a lot of them are getting their eyelashes done, and that comes back with the beautician, as well, or where you may get a facial that day.
A lot of that work’s being done at the same place, along with your manicure, and pedicure. Twenty percent is, again, a really good standard there, but if you just want to round it off, $10, $20, depending on how long you were there.
John: What’s another type of vendor?
Maureen: If you get married in the church, you always would make a donation to the church, along with the fee that it costs. If you have an officiant at your offsite ceremony, outside, or you had a justice of the peace, or if you had someone that wasn’t a family member….
Remember, a lot of times now the family members are actually marrying everybody. I don’t think you have to tip your family. I’d say $50 to $100. That’s enough. I don’t think that actually has to be a percentage.
John: What about musicians, or a DJ?
Maureen: I think that your disc jockey is going to have a set price. I don’t think you’re going to necessarily see a gratuity, always, on a disc jockey bill, but I do think it’s nice to give them a little extra. If they’re not really working for themselves, you know that the money is going to the company.
I think that the person, right when they’re in front of you…Again, a $50 bill is going to go a long way.
John: Again, it kind of depends on if you’re using an individual DJ who’s like the only person in his business, or if you’re using a DJ company, and you’re just getting one of the people who works for that company.
Maureen: Then, if you have a musician ‑‑ if you had a guitarist, a flutist, someone playing the harp, at your actual wedding ceremony ‑‑ I do think that they usually charge a pretty good professional fee, and I don’t think that a gratuity would necessarily be needed there, because usually they are working for themselves.
Where, if you have a band, and you have a lot of musicians, again, that will be in your contract. I wouldn’t go over and above the contract, and I don’t think it’s expected, with the actual band.
Of course, then you have your photographer, your videographer — I think that that fee is also inclusive. Something in there, you’re really looking to see how many pictures you get, how many mother’s books, what kind of digital film they’re going to do for you, along with the videographer. I don’t think that a gratuity is necessary there, unless maybe they might have a helper with them.
A lot of the photographers are coming with two people, right now, and you might not necessarily tip the owner, but you may tip off the assistant some time, depending on how much they help you. They’re the ones that lift your dress, and hold your flowers for you. They tell you if your makeup’s running.
They’re really important, the assistant, because they’re seeing what the photographer’s not seeing through the lens. They’re seeing it before it’s seen through the lens. They’re a big help.
John: They’re just getting paid by the main photographer, so giving them a little extra something for their extra help is a good idea.
Maureen: Then, of course, once you get to your venue, you’re going to have a lot of people there. You’re going to have a kitchen staff, you’re going to have a floor staff, you’re going to have some kind of hostess, or coordinator, a manager.
Usually, in your venue, you will see some kind of administration, or service charge, or gratuity, that should be going to everyone, but if someone goes above and beyond the call of duty, or you feel like maybe they were the one that got you to this place….
You’re going to have detail meetings along the way, you’re going to have banquet meetings, food meetings, food counts. There’s usually some kind of captain that’s leading this that you might feel, “You know, if I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t have made it, and they did make a difference.”
I don’t think it would be unusual to tip the person that you actually did all the detailing with.
John: What about transportation, and your limos, and things like that?
Maureen: Cab rides, bus rides, limo drivers, they’re all waiting for a tip. Uber men. Pretty much the standard is 20 percent on your bill, and usually in your limousine, or if you had the trolley, you will see some kind of gratuity or a predetermined amount that they’re guiding you to, is normally included in your invoice.
How to Tip Vendors Politely
John: How should you politely tip some of those vendors, without kind of causing a scene? Maybe it feels a little uncomfortable to be walking around, and whipping out your wallet, and handing people bills, or something like that.
Of course, there’s so much going on in the middle of your reception. How do you remember to do all of that?
Maureen: Typically what I think happens ‑‑ I don’t think it’s really changed that much. On the night of your rehearsal, you would already have pretty much a good idea of all these people, and you would either put the money out that night to the people that were there, or you would have it in predetermined envelopes, and that night, you would give it to your best man, or your maid of honor….
It could also be the father of the bride that might have the envelopes, and you would give them out either that night, or the day of the wedding. You would do that the week ahead of time.
You would have all the envelopes done, you would have the person’s name on the envelope, you would have the predetermined amount of money, and I would say give it to your best man. That goes along with his job, and his responsibility.
John: That’s excellent advice, Maureen. Thanks again for speaking with me today about tipping wedding vendors.
Maureen: My pleasure, John. Thank you for having me.
John: For more information, you can visit the Essex Room website at essexroom.com, or call 978‑768‑7335.