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Wedding Budget: Who to Tip at a Wedding (and How Much)


Tipping is a custom that most of us grow up with. If we get good service (and sometimes even when we don’t), we know that under certain circumstances it’s appropriate to leave a tip. It’s become so much a part of our etiquette over the years that most people wouldn’t ever consider not leaving a tip — and only when service is really bad do we not do so. Things are a bit complicated when tipping becomes expected as opposed to being earned.

Dear Wedding Guru: “When creating our budget, we want to make sure that we include tips — but we’re not sure what’s expected of us. Please help. We don’t want to make a mistake!”

(Our answer on next page)

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The Wedding Guru says: The concept of tipping goes way back to its acronym. TIPS means “To Insure Prompt Service,” but we have come a long way from that to where tips are always expected. What’s most important is that you make absolutely sure before the affair that you understand what and how much you’ll be tipping. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Most caterers will add a service charge of 18% to 20% to the bill
  • Tip a hostess, maître D’ or captain between 1% and 2%
  • Tip waiters, waitresses and bartenders between 15% and 20% of the food bill
  • Restroom, coat check, valet person and parking attendants who are prepaid are tipped between $1 and $2 per coat or car
  • Limousine drivers are tipped between 15% and 20% of the bill
  • Musicians and DJs are tipped in the range of $25 per band member or, in the case of a DJ, 15% of their total bill
  • Church organists and church musicians are usually included in the rental fee for the church. If that’s not the case, tip between $35 and $50
  • Florists, photographers and bakers are not ordinarily tipped, nor do they expect to be
  • Officiants in the past were not tipped or paid, but today, there is often a suggested donation expected of about $100
  • Civil officiants (judge, Justice of the Peace, City Clerk, etc.) who officiate outside of court or office hours only can be tipped the same amount as a clergyperson would be

What you must remember is to make sure that you plan to include tips in your budget; depending on the size of your affair, tipping costs can become quite substantial, easily increasing your costs by hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Also bear in mind that tipping can go by other names such as “gratuities,” “service fee,” or “service charge.” And finally, it appears that although tipping is said to be optional, it has become fairly obvious that it is almost always expected!

For more information on tipping at a wedding, check out HudsonValleyWeddings.com’s article here.

» More about wedding budgets
» More from The Wedding Guru
» Submit a question to the Wedding Guru
» Hudson Valley Weddings 2013

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