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The wedding vendors you should tip and how much to budget

What we'll cover

  • Best practices for tipping vendors

  • Ways service charges can appear in contracts

  • How to organize your payments

Whether you’re DIY-ing a backyard bash or letting a planner handle the details of your ballroom-based nuptials, there’s no avoiding the truth: Wedding costs add up quickly. Don’t let vendor fees and payment schedules sticker shock you. Take a deep breath, and let us help you out.

To tip or not to tip?

When it comes to tipping wedding vendors, there is no universal standard.

For some vendors, such as makeup artists, hair stylists and catering staff, tipping a percentage of the cost — between 10% and 25% — is standard based on the level of service. Other vendors, like a DJ, photographer or officiant, are often tipped a flat dollar amount, typically between $50 and $150. And finally, you might tip wedding staff, like the valet, parking attendants or coat room attendants on a per-guest basis.

All in all, tipping your wedding vendors is, for the most part, optional but encouraged. When you hire your vendors, you should factor in the cost of predicted tips along with their stated price. Typically, tips are given at the end of the reception or sent with a thank you note after the big day. Because all the gratuity can add up to several hundred or even thousands of dollars, make sure you have funds available when the time comes.

Tips for tipping at your wedding. You have enough to worry about leading up to the big day, so we’ve mapped out who you should tip and everything else you need to know. Who? How much? Etiquette and timing. Wedding planner: 10% to 20% up to $500; Optional, provided after the big day with a thank-you note. Officiant: $50 to $100; Prior to the ceremony. Florist: 10% to 15% of total bill; Not typically expected. Ceremony musicians: $15 to $50 per person. After the ceremony. Hair and makeup artists: 15% to 25%; Like at a salon, after the service. Transportation: 15% to 20%; Expected, after the last ride. Band: $25 to $35 per musician; Optional but preferred. Photographer/videographer: $50 to $200 per person; Not typically expected. DJ: $50 to $150; Optional but preferred. Reception wait staff: 15% to 20% of food/drink fee; Either with final bill or after reception. Bartenders: 10% to 20% of liquor bill; Split between bartenders. Optional, guests may tip.

Review the fine print

When you book your vendors, read the contracts carefully and closely review what is included. Some vendors might include gratuity or service charges within their price. Some, like the venue, may require an upfront deposit and then ask that you pay the remainder closer to the actual date. Others may allow you to pay in installments while some may require the full payment at the time of booking. Some might even ask for payment after the event.

Because it’s unlikely you’ll book all your vendors at once, be sure to keep a log of what you owe and when. Whether you write it in your calendar or planner or make a note in your phone, keeping all your payment dates in one spot will help you keep track of what you’ve already spent and which invoices are still due.

Some vendors might include gratuity or service charges within their price.

Research and book vendors early

As you start to book vendors, it’s a good idea to get multiple quotes. And remember, the earlier you book, the more options (and negotiating power) you’ll have.

Spend some time looking into the prices for specific vendors. If you have friends or family that were married nearby, ask for recommendations and referrals. Be sure to compare companies and providers for things like the venue, florist, music, cake and catering.

If you need help keeping track of your budget as you plan, consider creating  wedding buckets to stay organized. With the savings buckets feature included in your Ally Bank Savings Account , you can create up to 10 digital envelopes (like DJ, venue, officiant, tips) to organize your dollars directly within your account. By factoring tips into your total vendor cost even before you book, you can be ready to focus on your big day and not your budget.

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