Tipping Tips


Photo courtesy DW Photography

Here’s what’s fun about planning your wedding: trying on gorgeous gowns, indulging in caterer and cake tastings, picking out fantastic florals and luxurious linens, getting your hair and makeup done by a professional, fantasizing about your fabulous life as the future Mrs. So-and-So. Here’s what’s not: figuring out whom and how much to tip.

While tipping wedding vendors (or restaurant waiters for that matter) is not mandatory, it is, generally, expected, particularly when a superior level of service is provided, as it is by the vast majority of Houston wedding professionals. So, working on the assumption that your wedding will be wonderful, you should calculate appropriate gratuities well ahead of time, and make sure that they are distributed properly.

Follow these tipping guidelines, and you’ll do right by your vendors, while keeping your budget in check—a big plus in these tough economic times:

Officiant: $50-$100, before wedding day, or at end of ceremony.

Caterer: Check first to find out if a staff gratuity has already been added to your total. If it hasn’t, figure $100-$200 for banquet manager and $20-$40 each for wait staff and bartenders. Alternately, you can tip 18-20% of the catering bill total, and leave it up to staff to divide accordingly, though this usually ends up being more expensive. Either way, hand out envelope(s) with cash at end of reception.

D.J./Musicians: $20-$25 per musician; $25-$35 for D.J., if you book through an agency. For an independent band or D.J., tipping is optional.

Parking attendants: $1 per car. Give envelope of cash to valet manager or maitre d’ at end of reception to divide among attendants.

Hair/Makeup Stylist: 18-20% of bill, in cash if possible.

Wedding Coordinator: Tips are generally not expected, but it is always nice to acknowledge a coordinator who has done a spectacular job. You can give cash at your discretion, or a thoughtful gift, such as flowers, an accessory such as a silk wrap or cashmere scarf, a unique or elegant home décor item, or a gift certificate for dining or spa.

For all reception-related tips, put your coordinator in charge of handing out envelopes. As a bride, you’ll be focused on other things, like enjoying the happiest day of your life—assigning tipping to a designated person will ensure that everyone gets what’s coming to them.

Share this post

Indian Wedding Trends Part II

The scene at House of Blues’ Foundation Room was, itself, a showcase of Indian wedding wonders, at the April 15 National Association of Catering Executives’ wedding trends luncheon. Guests got a traditional, and fragrant, Indian welcome, complete with sandalwood, rose water and kumkum (lime-treated turmeric powder), followed by plenty of time to peruse tables laid with ornate linens, spectacular mandaps (the traditional Indian-wedding canopy structure), and ornate brides’ and grooms’ outfits, all assembled in a space turned out in shades of copper, bronze, turquoise, pink and gold—magnificent!

(Photos by D. Jones Photography)

No Indian wedding would be complete without sweets and entertainment, and in these departments the NACE event did not disappoint. Guests dug into cardamom-infused wedding cake with fresh mango filling, refreshing lassi drinks and traditional Indian sweets, while enjoying live bhangra music (if bhangra doesn’t make you dance, nothing will!) and dhol drumming.

In the midst of all this spectacle and beauty, keynote speaker Radhika Day, publisher of Weddings in Houston, shared her input on hot, emerging and enduring Indian wedding trends. Here’s the scoop:

Groom’s Arrival:

The modern groom arrives in an expensive convertible, though the true traditionalist might still choose to arrive on a horse, or even an elephant or camel. At least one innovative groom arrived at his wedding on a Segway!


Reform Hindu—or arya samaj—weddings are very popular. Since many brides and grooms belong to different communities from India, the arya samaj ceremony serves to satisfy both sets of families. Also, both Hindus and non-Hindus can marry in this ceremony without converting. Convenient!


Couples today bring a mix of western and Indian elements to the wedding since many have grown up here in the U.S. Many couples are choosing to wear traditional attire for the ceremony and an ethnic outfit with a western twist for the reception.


There is a great deal of emphasis on the decor at upscale Indian weddings. Elaborate and colorful tents and backdrops that transport guests to the grandeur of a bygone era are not uncommon.


The modern Indian wedding has been greatly influenced by Bollywood and it’s not unusual for couples to bring in Indian entertainment groups to perform and get the crowds moving.  Live musicians such as dhol players at the baraat, and DJs, bands and professional dancers at the reception, are not uncommon.

Wedding Planners:

Every Indian family has older traditional relatives who actually guide the wedding couple on religious rituals and expectations. What couples need a planner for is to keep the crowds organized and to coordinate the many vendors involved in the wedding. Many young couples do not necessarily seek out an Indian wedding planner but look for someone who will help tie eastern and western elements together.


Often, the Indian wedding guest list includes a mix of Indian and non-Indian guests. Expect large, overflowing multi-cuisine buffets and multiple food stations with many dishes (yum!). Since the traditional Indian wedding involves so many events with the same guest list, most families like to vary the cuisine at the different events. A wedding cake—though not an Indian tradition—usually is part of the reception, and is served in addition to Indian desserts and sweets.  Often the cake flavors, fillings and decoration will have an Indian twist. And, for drinks, signature cocktails using mango or litchi are quite popular. Bottoms up!

Special thanks to Steve Lee, Ky Signature, Luxe Studios, Studio Capture, J. Cogliandro for allowing the use of their beautiful images in the Experience the Mystique of India presentation.

Share this post

Indian Weddings Trends Part I

With Houston’s large, prominent, diverse Indian population, it’s no surprise that Houston’s Indian weddings are at the forefront of style and sophistication. On April 15, top wedding pros gathered in the Foundation Room at House of Blues downtown to show off the best and brightest (and I do mean brightest—the color palette is absolutely spectacular) in Indian wedding trends for the coming season. The event was the annual wedding trends luncheon, hosted by the Houston chapter of the National Association of Catering Executives, and it was a stunner. Of course, the talent lineup was top-notch—Darryl & Co., Events in Bloom, River Oaks Flower House, Susie’s Cakes & Confections, Who Made the Cake, Edible Designs by Jessie, Sari Sapne, A&A Video and many more—with Weddings in Houston publisher Radhika Day taking the stage as keynote speaker. wih-blogpost-3-pic-invite2

C0-chairs Summer Hutchens Colgin of For Your Memories and Jim Gray of The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, along with Juliana Wathen of Cosmo Cool Concepts, Jessica Choate of the Student Chapter of NACE and our very own Vik Da,y all helped make the event shine. Attendees included 215 of Houston’s finest wedding and event experts and the charming David Jones of D. Jones Photography and Mitch Daniels of MDI Video captured all the excitement for posterity.

So what did our wedding gurus reveal? I’ll get to the goodies in a second, but first I want to point out a couple of things. First, there’s no such thing as an Indian wedding, per se. India is a large country divided into numerous states and multiple faiths, each with its own specific customs, rituals and tastes. Here in the U.S., these are often simplified and blended, as brides and grooms from different Indian (and non-Indian) backgrounds meet, fall in love and tie the knot.

Second, you don’t have to be an Indian bride to admire—and participate in—these fabulous Indian wedding trends. Indian color schemes, flowers, cake designs, food and cocktail recipes—there’s so much to love, you can’t help but be inspired. If you find something that captures your fancy, non-Indian bride, go for it. Your wedding planner can help you incorporate just about any of these wonderful elements into your special day.

Ready to pull back the curtain? Check out Indian Weddings Trends Part II for the fun stuff!

Share this post

Priscilla of Boston’s Jewel Collection

It’s named for the object of many a girl’s affection, and rightly so. Priscilla of Boston’s brand-new Jewel collection is one to love, especially in today’s tight economic times. Designed by Kelly Faetanini, the spectacularly talented prodigy of Priscilla of Boston star designer Tracy Uomoleale, Jewel gowns have a fresh, youthful, yet still undeniably glamorous feel—all in the remarkably reasonable $1,650 – $2,950 price range. Affordability aside, these gowns have got it going on, big time. Silhouettes range from classic ball gowns to full A-lines, with exquisitely elegant details including beading, embroidery and lace. Faetanini takes much of her inspiration from her lifelong love of ballet, and that passion shows in touches like criss-crossed fabric (borrowed from ballet- slipper ribbons) and sparkling waistline embellishments. And it’s no surprise that these gowns have a custom feel, seeing as Faetanini got her start as a sales and design rep in a New York City bridal boutique, where she offered to redesign dresses to fit brides’ needs when standard fare just wasn’t up to snuff. One style has a crystal-encrusted and embroidered belt detail at ribcage height, and the delightful surprise of hidden pockets—so handy for hankies, lipstick and whatnot. Another features a gorgeous pleated bodice and embroidered flowers adorned by hand with rhinestones and crystals. Budget gown? Ha! What I like best about Jewel gowns is their balance of structure and softness. While all the gowns in the collection are unquestionably elegant, they have an ease of movement and earthy romanticism that sets my heart aflutter. Models have been sporting Jewel gowns with hair worn down, loose and a little tousled, and simple but striking makeup—perfection. To check out these gems for yourself, pop into Priscilla of Boston, where the very knowledgeable and helpful Victoria, Sandie and salon manager Veronica await your visit with bells—and jewels–on. Buy your Jewel gown during the week of May 21 – 25 and you’ll get 10% off the already affordable price.

(Photos courtesy Priscilla of Boston)

Share this post

Welcome to the Houston Wedding Blog

As contributing editor for Weddings in Houston, Houston’s #1 wedding resource, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the Houston Wedding Blog. This blog is where I will share with you the very latest trends, tips, news, ideas and inspiration to make your Houston wedding the occasion of a lifetime. A brilliant new floral genius in town? I’ll let you know about it. Tangerine and turquoise the must-have palette of the season? You’ll hear about it here. Leaning toward letterpress invitations but worried about budget? I’ll help you decide if they’re worth the price. I will also be drawing back the veil, as it were, on gorgeous Real Weddings in and around Houston, and directing you to where you can get one of those Swarovski-crystal-encrusted orchid chandeliers, or daisy-bedecked buttercream-frosted-cupcake towers, or alluring tulle birdcage veils (like the one pictured on our beautiful blue bride, above) of your very own. From time to time, I’ll be asking you for your feedback and opinions, and incorporating your thoughts into the Houston Weddings Blog, so get ready to speak up. Of course, any time is a good time to share. I invite you to comment on any post that piques your interest—and if you have a discovery you think your sister brides-to-be might go gaga for, send me an e-mail. I may be the one doing the blogging on behalf of Weddings in Houston, but this blog belongs to you, Houston brides.

Read it, use it, share it, love it. Congratulations on your engagement…and let the blog begin!

Share this post