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.

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