The vows have been read, the tears have been shed, and you are officially married! Congrats! We believe that even though it is your special day, it is important not to forget about all the people involved & the hard work it took to make your dream wedding a (hopefully as flawless as possible) reality. We often get questions from couples concerned about something that can be a major financial surprise if you have not budgeted for it: tipping your vendors!
Tipping can be a touchy and tricky topic, so we’ve assembled a pretty darn comprehensive list to help you decide how to share a little love and gratitude for your hard-working behind the scenes crew. To gather the best information possible, we’ve consulted four different sources. We consulted two of the biggies in wedding world: Martha Stewart Weddings & The Knot. Then we also looked for a balanced perspective by scoping out a couple of smaller wedding sites as well: Wedding Bee & A Paper Proposal. Of course, we’ll then chime in with our own thoughts as well. Check out Part 1 of 3 on How to Appreciate Your Vendors below. Tune in for Parts 2 & 3 over the next few days!
Hair Stylists & Make Up Artists
Who they are: These are the folks who help you start your day off right with a little bit of pampering and TLC! Many of your Hair Stylists & Make Up artists work other jobs during the week and then seek extra work on the weekends by doing special events. Many of them train for years to do what they do, and there are recertification tests and continuing education requirements in most states, so while these folks may or may not have a college education, they are definitely knowledgeable resources working hard to make sure you walk down the aisle feeling 100% confident and ready to go. They are helping make sure you look gorgeous in your photos at hour 1 and at hour 13. Really great hair stylists/MUAs may even offer touch up services for later in the day – they want you to have every opportunity to look and feel great.
Martha Stewart Weddings says: Give them 15-20% of your final bill, plus $3-$5 per assistant who helped with your services.
The Knot says: Give them 15-25% of your final bill.
Wedding Bee says: Give them 15-20% of your final bill.
A Paper Proposal says: Give them 15%-25% of your final bill.
Our thoughts: There’s no big controversy in this category. Giving 15-25% of your bill is standard – so we’d go with that unless you have a big reason not to. Generally, it is best tip your stylists right after their services are completed, but if there is a reason you cannot, a heartfelt thank you note and tip post-wedding is also nice.
Ceremony Musicians & Reception Band or DJs
Who they are: There is such a wide variety of folks who work weddings in this capacity. Ceremony musicians might be connected to the church/venue you are getting married at or they might work part-time as wedding musicians while also working at a career in their musical style of choice. Some bands work weddings full-time, others play shows at small local venues 3-4 nights a week and play weddings when they come up, too. Regardless of who your musicians are, they likely have put in hours upon hours of lessons and then even more hours of practice to get to the point that they are good enough you’d pay them to play at your wedding.
DJs are also interesting people and tough to generalize about. Our friend, Benjie at Backthird Entertainment, wrote a great piece that gets to the heart of this. You can read that here: Chicago Wedding DJ Rates.
Martha Stewart Weddings says: Give musicians $20 – $25 a piece. Give $25 to your DJ.
The Knot says: Give $15 – $20 per musician.
Wedding Bee says: Give $15 – $20 per musician or 15% of the fee for your ceremony. Reception musicians should receive $20 – $50 per musician and you should tip your DJ anywhere from $25 – $150.
A Paper Proposal says: Each member of the band should receive $5 – $10 per hour they play, while a singer should receive $25 – $75 for the night. DJs also should receive $25 – $75.
Our Thoughts: Tipping your ceremony musicians is often easier than figuring out how to tip your reception entertainers. Ceremony musicians are typically present for less than two hours, so we’d tip them $40 – $70, maybe in the higher part of that range if they learned a specific piece of music for you or played an extra long intro because your ceremony didn’t start exactly when you hoped it would.
For your reception music, there are clearly a lot of varying opinions and also a number of variables that go into this decision. For your band, you might consider asking yourself these questions: Does your band have a leader? – typically you would tip that person more. How many people are part of the ensemble? Are they playing for your ceremony and cocktail hour and reception or a different combination of those events? – You may want to tip more for the longer they play. Was your dance floor full most of the night? Did your party flow the way you wanted it to? Did your band learn any songs specifically for your wedding or do anything else by special request? Does your event go later into the night than most weddings? – These could all be reasons why you might tip on the higher end of the range.
For your DJ, you might ask yourself: Did your DJ bring an assistant or is he/she flying solo? Is there a separate emcee or is your DJ doing everything? Did your DJ also handle your ceremony music? – Maybe that means you tip him/her a bit more. Does your event go later into the night than most weddings? Is your DJ playing your playlist or taking requests and “feeling out the crowd?” Was your dance floor full most of the night? Did your party flow the way you wanted it to? – These could all be reasons why you might tip on the higher end of the range.
We would tip our wedding DJ $75 – $100 for a standard six-hour reception time frame if the service was stellar, the party rocked out in the ways we wanted it to and the night flowed the way we had hoped. If they had an emcee or assistant, we would tip that person $40 – $60, depending on their level of direct involvement with the success of our evening. For a band, we would tip the band leader similarly as we’d tip the DJ, and then tip each member of the band or ensemble $30-60.
Who they are: There are four main categories to officiants – those who work full-time at a ceremony venue and perform all of the weddings held there; those who work full-time “freelance” and work at any venue but whose only job is wedding officiating; those who work another job but “moonlight” by performing the occasional wedding; and those friend-of-the-family folks who don’t necessarily officiate but whom you ask to officiate your wedding. It can be tough to navigate those differences appropriately, but never fear – we have recommendations for you!
Martha Stewart Weddings says: Give your officiant $75 – $100.
The Knot says: “Donate $500+ to the church or synagogue, or, for a nondenominational officiant, give an optional tip of $50 – $100.”
Wedding Bee says: Give your officiant $100 – $500.
A Paper Proposal says: Donations to place of worship should be at least $100, but for a non-denominational officiant $40 – $50 is appropriate.
Our thoughts: Overwhelming much? There is clearly a large range of what is considered appropriate and acceptable for tipping your officiant. We think if the officiant is tied to a specific place of worship and your ceremony is held there, your tip should be around $100 – 200. If your officiant is non-denominational/not connected to a specific place of worship, it is okay to consider a little less for a tip, perhaps in the $75 – 100 range. This would apply to both those who freelance and those who moonlight. The last category of officiant (the family friend) can be especially tough, because in those cases, monetary tips might sometimes be considered offensive. Hopefully, you have enough of a relationship with that person to get a sense for that ahead of time. Some things you might do in lieu of a monetary tip are a donation to that person’s favorite charity in his/her name, a thoughtfully written thank you card with a $25 – $50 gift card to that person’s favorite restaurant of store or a personal gift can all be well-received and appropriate methods for tipping this type of officiant.
While thinking about churches and officiants, it is important not to forget the onsite wedding coordinator at the church. Not every church has one, but if you work with one you could consider tipping at least a small amount for the work she/he provides for you, especially if you forgo a day of coordinator and that person is the one who makes sure your ceremony runs smoothly. We’d suggest somewhere in the $40-60 range for the person in that role.