Wedding Gratuities


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Often times, I’m asked the question about tipping at your wedding; how much should I tip? Who should I give a tip to?

You want to reward the people that helped your wedding day run smoothly. Plan your tip distribution schedule ahead of time and bring along extra cash or checks for surprises tips. They really go a long way to show your wedding partners how much you valued their services.

Give checks for everyone who expects to be paid before they begin (bands for example) to the banquet manager or another person in charge, and gratuities to your best man or maid of honor. You’ll look a little silly if everyone is breaking down at the end of the night and you’re scribbling a bunch of checks. Plus, it’s super-easy to get carried away and give more then what you planned.

For vendors such as caterers wedding planners, florists, photographers, a monetary tip may seem a bit inappropriate, especially if the person you’re working with is the owner. In these cases, it’s totally cool to offer a personalized gift of gratitude.

Last, here is a quick nitty gritty schedule showing the *typical* tipping guidelines. Of course, feel free to adjust as you see fit.

PS – you should never have tip jars out for your guests; a sign that says “Gratuities have been fulfilled by the hosts” is appropriate and should be displayed.

Tipping Guidelines
Recipient Amount
Banquet Manager $200 and up or personal gift
Head Bartender $50 and up
Bartender $25 and up
Bathroom Attendants $1 to $2 per guest or pre-arranged flat fee
Chef $100 and up
Civil ceremony officiant $25 to $50
Coatroom Attendants $1 to $2 per guest or pre-arranged flat fee
Hairdresser 10% to 20% of fee
Maitre d’ or head waiter 1% – 3% of food/beverage of $150 – $300 for off-premise
Make-up artist 10% to 20% of fee
Ceremony Musicians 15% of fee
Reception Musicians $25 to $50 per member, especially if guests make numerous requests
Parking Attendants $1 to $2 per car; or 15% of bill for valet parking (usually included in bill)
Transportation driver 18% – 20% for limo
Wedding Planner 15% of fee; or a personal gift

Preferred Vendor Lists & First Born Children


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Perusing the various Facebook Wedding Groups that I belong to, I came across a feverish and interesting topic about kickbacks & venue “preferred vendor lists”. I usually don’t publicly (at least on the open ‘net) discuss industry practices because it can come off as, well, rather “Gossip Girl-ish”

But this is something that I’ve been hearing a lot about and thought I would throw my two cents in. I’m a “tell it how it is” kind of gal and if I offend you, drop me a note in the comments and tell me why.


First off, I do not accept any type of kickback, commission, first-born child or any other type of compensation (unless it is a box of sugar cookies) for referring business to another wedding partner. It’s not ethical and quite frankly is deceitful to my clients.

In my opinion, the honorable wedding partners I spoke with do NOT accept commissions or kickbacks. We all prefer that our partners spread the love to our clients. Our job as wedding planner’s is to bring the best talent within the couple’s budget to produce an amazing day.

How creepy would it be that we only referred people that paid us? To me, seems a little “Pretty Woman-ish”

I prefer to work with wedding partners that share similar work practices and of course, are just way kick-ass. Who wants to work with a stuffy vendor that has an ego the size of the Empire State Building? I just think that if we were all up-front about our business practices it would change the perception that our industry is filled with greedy money-grubbing business owners.

Trust me, I get that businesses need to create additional revenue streams by having strategic partnerships, but I don’t condone the practice of hiding the manner in which “preferred vendors” are selected. There are other ways to create these lists. Oh, I don’t know, how about getting to know smaller businesses on a personal level? Even the Ritz Carlton had to start out somewhere.

It is my business practice to be fully transparent in my services, business referrals and policies. If you want to know something, just ask me. I’m an open book with nothing to hide. Want to know if I lived in a trailer in Wyoming when I was a kid? Yep, sure have. Want to know if I have ever been in a really crappy relationship? Yep, that too. And I don’t regret either. I digress….

Venue’s Preferred Vendor Referral Lists

The wedding industry HAS to rely upon referrals/recommendations to sustain our business; we just cannot live without them. I personally would like to think that if I am recommended by another wedding partner, it is because they know that I will work my ass off and will protect THEIR reputation by doing so.

I truly believe that it is a two-way street. Why would you want to hire somebody if you don’t trust them to make YOU look good? I think this is Business 101, peeps.

With that being said, many (not all) venues have started creating “Venue Referral Lists” that are extremely misleading, in my opinion. Engaged couples have no clue that many times, vendors are PAYING (yes, paying!) either a flat fee or a percentage to be named as a “preferred vendor”. (I actually just spoke to a caterer this afternoon who confirmed this)

Seriously? Now, I have to PAY somebody to “like” me? This girl doesn’t play that game. This methodology frustrates me because this practice creates a perception that venue referrals are based on their merit and not the checkbook of the wedding vendor. Engaged couples are being misled. What happens if a couple decides to work with me only to find out that I’m not on the venue’s preferred list? The couple isn’t going to change their venue simply because I’m fabulous, although that would be super-cool. The couple is unhappy, the venue is being stubborn and I’ve lost out on potential business.

Doesn’t really seem to be a great idea.

Your Turn!

Has this ever happened to you? Have you had clients who were interested in hiring you until they found out you weren’t on their venue’s preferred vendor list? What happened? Did you lose the job? And for those of you who may be on a venue’s preferred vendor list, please share your position – always curious to know what I don’t know.

Wedding Photography Costs HOW Much??!


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I know A LOT of wedding photographers in the Denver area and the BIGGEST misconception about photographers is that they “charge too much for taking photos”.

If you care to be enlightened about what it really costs a photographer to “take pictures”, I encourage you to take a moment, click on the below and have a read at it.

HUGE Thanks to Nikki Mayday for her very insightful and thoughtful blog post which sparked my blog post.

Don’t be so quick to assume that wedding professionals are “making a ton of money”. We have our bills to pay just like everyone else, it’s just that we’re also running a business.

Would love to hear from you – do you think wedding professionals charge too much for their services?