Money Monday: Being Gracious with Gratuities

Today's Money Monday installation is all about tipping your wedding vendors.  You've been over your wedding costs with a fine toothed comb- you know exactly how much you're paying the florist, and you've memorized the fees included with the limo bill.  But did you miss something when planning out your budget? Bear in mind that giving a gratuity to your pros is not required.  However it is customary to recognize superior service with a little "something extra."  You get to make that call come game time- but bear in mind that it's a good idea to set aside a little extra in the budget in case you decide the maitre'd has saved the day and deserves it!

First, make sure that final bills don't already include gratuity.  The service charge (20-22%) that is often tacked on to the per person charge at your banquet hall is sometimes considered gratuity.  Ask if the gratuity is included if you are not sure.

Who NOT to tip- Generally speaking you don't tip any vendor who owns the business that is providing the service, but that can vary.  See the guidelines below for the following service providers: The officiant. General etiquette states that you shouldn't tip the person performing the ceremony.  Performing weddings is considered by many to be a sacred duty- and a tip can be seen as an affront to that spiritual calling.  Of course their fee does require payment, but if you'd like to say thank you in larger way, I'd recommend providing a gift instead- like a nice bottle of wine, or a gift card.  You can also make a contribution to the church/temple/etc. Hair and makeup artists, IF they come to you. To me this is a gray area.  Of course if you get done up in someone's studio or salon, you would tip as per usual.  But fees for on site artistry usually takes into account the travel, and other considerations.  However, in my opinion, if you LOVE what your stylist/MUA is doing for you, by all means, throw him/her an extra few bucks!  They won't be offended, trust me! Individual waiters, captains, etc at the reception. Could you imagine having to chase everyone down at the end of the night to give them tiny envelopes?  They tend to get a piece of the larger tip given to the maitre'd or banquet manager. Your Coordinator/Planner. Yeah I know, I'm a planner telling you not to tip planners- but seriously it's not expected.  If you have a stellar experience with yours and they rock your socks off, then go for it.

Who you SHOULD tip- These people usually do get tipped for outstanding service, but see my notes. Delivery people. The baker and florist usually have these awesome people on staff, and if you're feeling generous you can tip them $5-15 each after they've completed their tasks. Caveat- If you're working with a coordinator, as a bride, you probably won't be there to see them doing the delivery so you may not be able to judge how "excellent" the service was.  For that reason I advise you to ask ahead of time if that pro expects their delivery staff to be tipped. Musicians. The ceremony and reception musicians (including the DJ) usually get $10-25 per person, depending on ensemble size and how long they perform. Limo Drivers. They usually get 15-20% of the total limo bill, after they're done for the evening. Parking attendants and valets. Usually this is a per car gratuity, and it may be included in the venue's final bill. Ask before tipping, and pre-arrange if you can with the supervisor.  If you do pre-arrange, post a sign so that guests don't double tip. Maitre d'/Banquet or Catering Manager. They get a gratuity of 15-20% of the total food and beverage bill, near the end of the reception.  If you have more than one person in charge, say a maitre d' and a banquet captain, divide the gratuity between them. Bartenders. Venue bartenders are often tipped out with the rest of the waitstaff at the end of the night. If you brought your own in, then 10% of the total liquor bill is a good guideline. For more than one bartender, divide among them. Restroom or Coatroom attendants. This is a per guest gratuity of up to $1 per guest. Again, ask if this is included with the service charge of the venue, and if not, pre-arrange with the venue management.

Tips to make tipping easier - Remember to include this as a line item when figuring out your total wedding budget. - Ask if the gratuity is already included in the fee to avoid overtipping. - Estimate the tips in advance and place them in envelopes with the vendors name and title. - Assign someone to hand out tips at the end of the night. Customarily it's the host's job (read: bride's family) but you can assign the task to the best man.  If you've hired a coordinator, then that task would usually fall to them, but ask double check as some prefer to leave all money handling to the family. - Have extra cash on hand to make up for discrepancies after the final bill arrives.

And there you have it!  Wedding tipping demystified!

Happy Planning and Keep Celebrating!