Your wedding is almost over. Every detail was executed flawlessly, and you’re floating on that end-of-the-night-wedding high. Before you set off on your honeymoon, there’s an essential detail left – tipping your wedding vendors.

Navigating the world of tipping can often be murky, and even a little uncomfortable. How much? When? To whom? In this guide, we’ll break down the etiquette of tipping, giving you a clearer picture of how to express your gratitude.

Wedding Tipping Guide

1. The Expectations:

Firstly, understand that while tipping is a gesture of appreciation, in most cases, it isn’t mandatory. However, in the Houston wedding scene – as with many places – it’s a well-regarded practice and even expected in some instances.

When deciding who should receive a gratuity at your wedding, follow the standards of everyday life!  If you tip them at a salon, ride share, or restaurant, you’ll tip them at a wedding.  Otherwise, tipping is optional and appreciated. When clients elect to provide gratuity, here is what we typically see in Houston and Galveston:

2. The Numbers:

These are numbers we commonly see in the Houston area, and are not a requirement, or even an expectation in most cases. Go with your gut.

Hair and MakeupStandard18-20% of servicesThis is sometimes included, double check your contract.
CateringStandard18-24% of food and beverage*Tips go directly to your day-of staff and help supplement their income. Double check that gratuity is not already included in your contract.*Not including service costs/taxes/fees.
Bar ServiceStandard$50 – $100 per person, plus a tip jarDepending on style of service (beer & wine only, craft cocktails, standard open bar) and additional tip could be given for an exceptional job. 
TransportationStandard$75-$200 per driver, or 15% of subtotalThis can depend on the length of service. If you have multiple shuttles, consider multiple envelopes so these can be handed directly to the driver.
OfficiantStandard$50-$100Officiant: If they’re part of a religious institution, consider a donation to the respective organization. 
Live BandsStandard$25-$75 per member and crewKeep in mind there is not only the band, but crew members involved in set-up/breakdown (i.e. Sound Engineer, Etc.)
Ceremony musiciansOptional, bordering on standard$25 per musicianIf tipping in this category, smaller bills make it easier for distribution amongst the musicians. You can also opt to provide separate envelopes for each musician.
PlannerOptional*A flat $50-$500 for a coordination package, or 10%-15% for a planning packageThe amount tipped is contingent on the level of service you have booked.*This is considered “industry standard” for around Houston, however, I’ve personally seen everything from $0 + a glowing review, to 25% of a full planning package. Anything given in appreciation is lovely, but not expected by myself or my team.
Photo & VideoOptional$100-$500If you have multiple photographers, it’s common that the main photographer will receive more than the second photographer, though that’s up to you.
DJOptional$100-$500We typically see the higher end of the spectrum if your DJ is providing additional services (i.e. GOBO, Uplights, Etc.) Or if they really just do an amazing job of keeping the party going!
Live Painter or Other EntertainmentOptional$20-$50This could be for a painter, photo booth attendant, or other provider
Floral DesignerOptional$50-$100 + per person or a flat $50-$300The amount you tip is contingent on the level of installation your floral design team is performing.
Delivery personnelOptional$20-$50 per personThis goes to the crew who delivers your rentals or other large items to your venue. Consider that you could have multiple rental companies.
Venue StaffOptional, not very common$50-$100If you have worked closely with someone at your venue or would like to tip the manager for their assistance throughout the entire process.
BakeryOptional, not very common $20-$50This goes to the person who delivers your cake to your venue.
Lighting Optional, not very common$20-$50This goes to the person who delivers and installs your lighting, if outside of your DJ package
Security / PoliceOptional, unexpected$20-$50If you have multiple security guards, please separate their tips into individual envelopes.
StationerOptional, unexpected10% of subtotalThis one is pretty uncommon, but if your stationer went through multiple revisions or just did an outstanding job, it’s a kind gesture!
AlterationsOptional, unexpected$25-$100Although unexpected, if your seamstress or tailor made quite a few alterations or revisions, it’s a nice thought to tip them a bit extra – especially if they work for a larger company.

3. How/when to deliver

We provide our clients with a gratuity sign-off sheet on the wedding day. The clients will give their individually sealed and labeled envelopes to their planner. Both the client and planner will initial next to each vendor category for which an envelope is provided. The planner will distribute gratuity envelopes at the end of that vendor’s service and have them initial as confirmation of receipt.

If your planner feels the vendor majorly underperformed in some way, they may hold back and confirm with you first before giving the envelope out. If a vendor leaves quickly before the envelope can be passed out, you/your designated wedding day decision maker will be given the envelope and asked to initial again.

4. Beyond the Monetary Gesture:

Remember, expressing gratitude isn’t solely about the money. A heartfelt note or a glowing review can be invaluable. Particularly in the Houston wedding industry, where word-of-mouth and reviews can significantly impact a vendor’s business. It boosts their online presence, aids in future client acquisition, and serves as a testament to their dedication and skills.

While we’re talking about it, here are some tips on how to write a review for your vendors:

  • Sing praises! Work out any issues with a vendor offline. If not resolved, then and only then consider writing a negative review. Remember! Everyone has an off day and even more, there actually may be a very valid reason for something you thought was incorrect but wasn’t (Lights in the wrong places? Maybe a fuse blew and the vendor went with plan B! )
  • If a vendor negotiated something or did something special for you, simply state that they ‘went above and beyond’ or “exceeded expectations” rather than giving away their secrets by being specific. This helps to eliminate preconceived expectations of what a vendor should or should not do/charge for future couples, and allows wedding professionals to continue exceeding expectations. 
  • Copy and paste your review to multiple platforms (Google, Facebook, The Knot/Wedding Wire, and even an emailed/text testimonial), allowing a broader audience to benefit from your words and more chances for winning vendor awards. 

In conclusion – Your wedding day is a mosaic of perfectly executed details, made possible by the dedication of numerous vendors. While they’re compensated for their services in the fee they charge, a tip – like icing on the cake – is that extra gesture that expresses your gratitude.

Ready to start planning? We can help you navigate all of the etiquette and budget considerations that come along with a wedding. Click HERE to schedule a consultation!

All averages/suggested gratuity amounts are based on results from a 2024 survey conducted by Water to Wine Events, of clients and wedding vendors who primarily serve the “mid-to-premium” wedding market.

March 1, 2024

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