Undoubtedly, today’s culture has become more and more focused on tipping for services. Every time you checkout there is an option to add in a tip. This tipping culture has many engaged couples wondering which of their wedding vendors expect tips and how much they should plan to set aside for gratuities.

Before getting into specifics about certain vendors and tipping, it’s important to note that tips are never required unless it is noted in your contract. Vendors do not expect a tip, but they always appreciate the gesture.

Before considering a tip at all, couples should thoroughly review their contracts with vendors to avoid tipping twice if gratuity is already included. I do want to mention that service fees and gratuity are not the same thing. The service fee for most vendors acts as an operating cost fee to cover the hundreds of emails you’ve sent back and forth, numerous updated proposals, in person meeting hours you’ve used to plan the event, operational expenses, etc.

Also note, that tips don’t always have to be given in monetary form either. For those who are into more traditional cash tips, I’ve prepared this informational guide below for those engaged on tipping your wedding vendors.

Most companies already include gratuities in their contracts, but double check yours. If not, tip 15-20% of the pre-tax total for services. Give this tip at the final ride for the evening. Gold Shield is the most well-known transportation provider in Lexington and their wedding packages include gratuity for the driver.

Definitely read your contract about this one as it is common for gratuities to already be included in the fee. However, if it isn’t, then brides should treat this like a trip to the salon and tip 20% of the total, usually right after completion of the services.

Photo credit: Kevin and Anna Photography and Veronica Sparrow Photography

Wedding planners don’t expect a tip, but for someone who has spent such a huge amount of time with the couple preparing the wedding and making sure everything went off without a hitch, a tip is greatly appreciated. If you do decide to give a tip, aim for 10-20%. Also remember that you can spring for a nice gift in lieu of cash. Another great way to show your appreciation is by showering your planner with praise in a glowing Google review. This can come directly after the wedding day or even a few weeks later. I would also say that percentage can vary based on the type of service your planner provided, full-service vs month-of. For full-service (especially for a farm/estate wedding) go toward the higher end of that percentage.

Photo credit: Veronica Sparrow Photography

Musicians don’t expect a tip, but are always appreciative when a couple thinks of them. I asked several local DJs and Musicians how often they get tipped and they said about 50% of the time. If you would really like to tip your musicians, it is common to provide $25-$100 per live musician–and don’t leave out the sound technician!

For DJs, it ranges from $20 and a thank you note to 10% of the on the final contract amount.

This tip can be provided before or after the wedding, or even mailed a few weeks later. DJs noted that they typically won’t open it until the day after the wedding. Personally, I think that’s a great idea!

Photo credit: Veronica Sparrow Photography

Before tipping your caterer, check to see if gratuity is included or not. “For full-service catering,” a local Lexington caterer advises, “I think anywhere from a 15% to 20% of the subtotal is a good tip. If you have a hefty guest count or expensive meal, the 20% number can look a bit large, but it’s important to remember there’s a whole team of people working hard to put it all together and the tip gets split between all of them.”

For bartenders, again, reference your contract. You may find that bartending gratuity is already included on your catering invoice. Depending on the set up and your agreement, there might also be a tip jar where bartenders receive their tips.

If you are providing a tip, give it at the end of the reception.

Photo credit: Veronica Sparrow Photography

If your officiant is a member of the clergy or of the church where your ceremony is being performed, they might not be able to accept a tip. In this case, you’re usually expected to donate to the church instead–around $250 if there isn’t a fee.

If your officiant isn’t religious, then between $50-$100 before the wedding is appropriate. If it’s a friend, you might opt to get them a gift worth around $50-$150 instead.

Give this gratuity after the rehearsal or after the ceremony.

Photo credit: Veronica Sparrow Photography

Other vendors you may consider tipping are photographers, videographers, florist, designers, etc. There’s no right or wrong amount, but I think $50+ is a good starting point, do what you feel is best for the level of service you feel you got from them!

Photo credit: Veronica Sparrow Photography

Your wedding vendors are aware that your wedding is expensive and tipping etiquette can be confusing.

Remember: there’s no right or wrong amount to tip! Their fees are prices they consider fair for their services.

As mentioned above, most vendors are super appreciative of any tips or alternative methods of acknowledgement. Besides providing tips in cash, consider other ways to support these (mostly) small businesses who work tirelessly to make your wedding day spectacular. Alternative actions that would also be much appreciated might include positive reviews on Google, Facebook, Wedding Wire, and The Knot–especially if a business is newer. You could even choose to do thank you cards, gift cards or even bourbon.

While general guidelines on when to give tips are included above, tips don’t have to be given on the day of the wedding. You can mail them later if needed.

However, there is one guideline to make sure you ALWAYS follow when it comes to tipping your wedding vendors: NEVER tell a vendor you’re going to tip if you really aren’t or might forget. Don’t mention it to them at all until you actually do it!