When it comes to preparing a wedding budget, there’s one expense that may escape your mind: tipping. It’s important to express your sincere gratitude to everyone that had a hand in your wedding execution, most especially for a job well done! But, how will you know whom to tip, when to tip and how much to tip?! And that’s where we come in with a local guide to tipping wedding vendors in the Washington, DC area.

Photo Credit: {a}strid photography from A Fashion Show of Cake

Considering the cost of an average wedding in the DC-area, you may be a little overwhelmed at why you’ll have to factor in tipping into your budget. However, try not to think why you have to tip vendors and focus more on how and when. Consider this: would you walk away from a restaurant without leaving a tip? Tipping is about saying “thank you” to everyone who had a part your wedding, and with planning (and a little help from us!), you can accommodate everyone on your list without having to blow your budget!

Who to Tip

Before preparing tips for wedding vendors, you’ll want to go over any contracts you have to check if gratuities were already included in your contract and/or if tips are accepted. Once you have that all figured out, it’s time to go over your vendor list and take note. Here are a few folks that you can consider tipping:

  • Altar servers
  • Bartenders
  • Caterer
  • Deejay/Band
  • Delivery people (bakery, florist, etc.)
  • Event set-up/take down (lighting, rental furniture, etc.)
  • Hairstylist(s)
  • Makeup artist(s)
  • Musicians/entertainment
  • Parking attendants
  • Photographer(s)
  • Reception venue manager
  • Transportation drivers
  • Videographer(s)
  • Wedding coordinator or planner

Note: Tips are often not accepted by religious officiants, but consider making a donation to their place of worship in lieu of a traditional tip.

How Much to Tip

If you did your homework, then the wedding professionals in the DC area that you chose are amazing! That said, tips aren’t expected, but are appreciated – especially for great service. You can go with a standard percentage of the your total spent with that vendor, like 15 to 20 percent. However, that does add up quickly and it may not be appropriate for all services. My advice? Use your best judgment. If you go to the hair salon, tip your wedding hair stylist what you would normally tip for a hair cut. If you are tipping the parking valets, tip what you’d normally tip to have your car parked at a restaurant. Here is a handy guide from The Knot that can give you more details about how much to tip at weddings.

If you truly can’t factor in tipping into your wedding budget, a small gift can express your gratitude and appreciation. Regardless of your choice between tips and gifts, a handwritten “thank you” card to every wedding professional should be included on your newlywed “to-do” list! Wedding vendors *love* receiving notes about how the event went in your eyes!

When to Tip

Vendors should receive their tips at the end of their service. For example, ceremony musicians should be tipped at the end of the wedding ceremony; photographers at the end of the reception; or hairstylists at the end of the appointment. Designate your wedding planner or someone else your trust (parent, maid of honor, best man) to hand out tips. And to make it even easier, prepare separate envelopes ahead of time to avoid confusion.

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How will you or have you handled tipping at your wedding? Leave a comment and let us know!

For more on how to save money on your DC-area wedding, check out more of our wedding planning and budget tips and advice!

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