A Bride’s Guide to Tipping and Thank You Etiquette

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There are some things you can do on or after your wedding to show your appreciation to friends, loved ones, and vendors who are taking part in your special day.

Giving a thank you gift to your bridal party, each other (bride and groom), your immediate family, and favors for your guests:

  • You absolutely should thank your bridal party for being in your wedding. Many have invested a lot of time and money (especially if they are traveling) to be in your wedding. Something small (thought, not expense matters) a necklace to wear in the wedding, a pair of earrings, or matching robes are common gifts given as a thank you on your wedding day to your bridesmaids. A small item like cuff-links are a nice gift for your groomsmen.
  • Special honored guests and attendants do not expect gifts, but you should make sure they have a corsage or boutonniere.
  • Young bridal party members will not expect gifts but giving them something small or a framed picture with a thank you card after the wedding, and including their parents (if they are not already part of the bridal party) in the rehearsal dinner, is expected.
  • It is traditional to give each other (bride and groom) a gift, but not all couples do this. These gifts do not need to hold any monetary value, it can be a special letter to be delivered before your make up is ready (just in case).
  • Parents will often give something special or borrowed to their daughter or son on their wedding day, but don’t forget to show your appreciation to them in some special way. Again, this does not have to be a “gift” of monetary value, but a special thank you in any way you choose is always appreciated by your family. It’s a busy day, don’t forget this important moment of gratitude and reflection. Those special moments you have alone together before your ceremony will never be forgotten.
  • Your guests do not expect nor require favors or gifts. In my experience, I’ve found that if you do give a favor, having them set at each place setting is ideal if they are a single item and add to your decor. If you leave them for people to take they may not notice or may forget on their way out. Edible favors are always a favorite, and less likely to go to waste. They can be simple and inexpensive. Many couples choose to do a candy table and gift bags. If your favors are items that would not add to your décor, having them set out before the end of your reception, near the exit, is ideal.

 

Thanking your vendors

Most of your vendors do not expect, nor require, any extra monetary thank you in the form of a tip. The wedding industry is made up of many small business owners, and larger businesses. Consider which type of business your vendor is when deciding if you should tip. Small business owners set their own prices and shouldn’t need an extra tip. Those who are employees of a vendor will greatly appreciate (and never expect) an extra tip.

Your Pastor – Most clergy do not expect nor receive tips. A donation to your church or a gift or donation valuing approximately $100 to your Congregation, is a nice gesture. It is always expected you will invite your Pastor to the rehearsal dinner, and your reception.

Your Decorator – does not require nor expect a tip.

Your Florist – does not require nor expect a tip.

Your Event Planner – does not require nor expect a tip.

Your Baker – does not require nor expect a tip.

Your Musicians, Band, and DJ – If your DJ is a business owner, they usually do not expect a tip. If you do tip a DJ 10-15% is customary. Bands and musicians do not typically get a percentage. If you are tipping your musicians, give them a flat amount of your choosing $20-$50 each is standard.

Your Photographer – Does not expect nor require a tip when they are the business owner. If your photographer will have a second shooter, you may opt to give the second shooter a tip of $50-$100. It is not required. Do expect to offer a dinner to your photographer. They are there all day long. They do not require a seat at the table, but make sure you note to your caterer that you will have certain vendors who will be eating.

Your makeup and hair professionals – Typically, people will always tip the same as you would in a salon (15-20%).

Catering/Venue – This is a tricky one. Look at your contract. Does it include gratuity? Often you will find that gratuity is included in your final price. Most caterers and venues include gratuity in your bill. If you do not have gratuity included in your contract, and/or if it is not broken out by catering as a stand-alone line item to come up with a percentage (15-20%), then a flat fee per server of $20-$50 each is a fair tip. Chefs and bartenders typically if you are paying them a flat tip $50-$100 each is fair. Consider the number of hours of service. If it is just for a cocktail hour less than if it is a full dinner reception.

When any of your servers, staff, delivery, or assistants for the wedding are unpaid volunteers consider giving each a gift as opposed to payment. If they are business owners donating their services and do not want payment beyond cost, a present valued in accordance with the above tip guide is a nice gesture.

For all of your vendors who do not require nor expect a tip, remember they are mostly small business owners. Their good name, and your referrals and reviews are greatly appreciated and help them with their business! Review them after the wedding on websites like Wedding Wire, The Knot, Yelp, Facebook, or Google. In these modern times, your public thank you in the review section of these platforms is free to you, but holds value for them. Doing this at some point soon after the wedding is a wonderful thing to do for your vendors!

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