Figuring Tipping Into Your Wedding & Event Spending Plan

In my last blog, we talked about the importance of establishing a “spending plan” or “budget”.  We talked about my top tips for helping to ensure success.

Another aspect for which many forget to plan in their finances for weddings (or any special event) are the gratuities to service providers.  I am always asked who these people are, and honestly, most of the time it is mentioned in their service contracts, so make sure you and your professional wedding planner review all these contracts carefully.  For most non-hotel (off site) weddings where an outside caterer is brought in, you will be given a suggested “gratuity” (just like restaurants it is anywhere between 15% -20% and up) on top of your bill and cash is always strongly urged for this.  This gratuity is taken and automatically given to the hard-working catering staff and bartenders (if hired through the catering company) as their tip.  If your wedding is at a venue such as  a hotel or country club where they have their own onsite catering, they will generally add the gratuity on for you (read your contract carefully so you are not taken aback when you see the final numbers added) to your final bill.  I personally recommend slipping the Venue or Catering Manager in charge of planning your event a little token something, too.  He/she does not usually get to share the gratuity you pay to the caterer, as it generally goes to all the staff working the event.  They have been taking care of you in the planning stages, and chances are, are there day of your wedding, too, ensuring it is all carried out (food , beverage and set up wise) and overseeing serving staff.  They are a truly important part of your overall event and put in tireless, long hours with personalization for you every step of the way.

But who are the other more commonly-tipped professionals on the day of a wedding?  Not only will you need to plan for their gratuities in your budget planning, but you will need to think carefully prior to your day-of preparation and prepare their tips in an envelope to distribute to them.  These professionals are experts in a highly niche service and certain ones have services that typically go a bit above and beyond (due to the nature of what they are doing).  Here are some of my top picks (note: the standard of not tipping the owner of a company still applies etiquette-wise; however, if you feel an owner of a service you contracted really went above and beyond and you are pleased with his/her service, gratuities are a lovely way to show your appreciation):

Valet Parking (also parking attendants)

Any Guest or Bride/Groom Transportation

Bridal Beauticians (hair/makeup for bridal party and family)

Catering Staff (for offsite catered events)

Bartending Staff (for separate bartending service)

Coat Check, Powder Room Assistants (if applicable)

Bellcaptains (anyone who drives you around the venue or brings things to/from your hotel room)

I always recommend having some spare one dollar bills in your wallet (up to about $50 total) for random tipping opportunities.  With one dollar bills, you can do a simple $2.00 tip , or customize a $5, $7 , $10 , etc. tip as needed.  But the best way to help manage your spending plan and recommended tip amounts is by planning for them in advance with your professional wedding planner.  We can help!  Contact us for an interview and let us know where you are in your planning and allow us to work up a proposal just suited to your unique needs.


About the author: Susie Tell

CEO and Founder of Tahoe Inspired Susie Tell brings a wealth of education, travel , life experience as well as years of professional expertise producing weddings, private events, fundraisers, galas, golf tournaments and more. Her passion for life is evident when one meets Susie and this enthusiasm and joy translates to events that are alive with soulful detail and energy.

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