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Gratuity Guidelines

By Alison Henry

Posted: Thursday, Oct. 01, 2009

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Ah, tipping. There are few things more awkward or uncomfortable than attempting to put a monetary value on appreciation. I’m sure there’s a chapter somewhere in that elusive Handbook of Life, but until I see a copy (and I have yet to see one) we are left to glean from society what’s appropriate, oftentimes scrambling to do simple math on a cocktail napkin or trying to move decimals around in the dustiest corners of our brains. In the wedding industry, gratuity is frequently included in your vendor’s contract price, leaving you to not have to worry about those little details. But what about those grey areas, like photography and catering? Fortunately, our region’s top vendors have weighed in on what is customary when it comes to tipping.

Photography: Like most businesses, never tip the owner or the lead photographer. Many brides and grooms, however, do tip the assistant photographers on average $50 to $100 per person, although this is not mandatory.

Wedding planners: Never the owner, but a nice way to show appreciation to assistants for a job well done. Amount varies based on personal preference and circumstances.

Catering: Gratuity is included in the contract; however, it is customary to tip the headwaiter an additional amount for his or her extra effort when appropriate.

Cakes, flowers, attire: Not customary.

Hair and makeup: Normal salon tipping etiquette applies.

DJs and music: Gratuity given above contract price is more typically seen at Northern weddings; however, a $50-$100 tip is generous for a job well done.

Rentals and set-up: Labor is factored into contract price. Additional gratuities have been given rarely, but are not required and are always based on performance.

Transportation: Check your contract. Most services factor in gratuity for weddings, but if your driver has provided champagne, it is likely he or she has paid for that or other amenities personally, making an additional tip a nice gesture.

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