Wedding Planner serving Birmingham, Alabama and the Southeast for modern and lively couples

Ann Marie & Sara (of AL Weddings) BTS of a wedding day! Photo by AL Weddings

Showing your gratitude to your heard-working pros is important!

There can be a lot of confusion about paying your hired wedding vendors tips or gratuities at the conclusion of your wedding. Who expects a tip, who is optional, is it optional, and of course, HOW MUCH?? We break down the details here. Please note that this is what we commonly see for Birmingham weddings or Central Alabama weddings, and if you are reading this in another part of the country or a larger city these percentages or expectations could vary.

Expected Vendor Gratuities

We will outline who expects to receive a gratuity first, and it’s not as hard as you might think! Any service provider who you would tip normally, in everyday life, would receive a tip for a wedding-related service. These will be people who provide beauty services and food-related services. You tip your hair person and restaurant servers in “real life” right? Tip these folks for wedding-related service too! (Maybe even more than you would “normally”…it IS a very important day right?!)

  • Hair and Makeup Artists: 18-20% of service costs
    • PRO TIP: Double check your contract to see if a gratuity is automatically charged! If it is, and your artists provide extra-wonderful service, consider a small gift!
  • Catering Service Staff: 18-20% of food costs
    • PRO TIP: This is NOT based on your final invoice from the caterer – look at the line item of food costs and base it on that number. You may also see a “Service Fee” as a line item on your invoice, but this is not gratuity, these fees cover admin and other fees in-house.
  • Bartending Staff: $50-100 per person
    • PRO TIP: You may see bartender tips as optional if there is a tip jar out. However, we do not see tip jars very often in our Birmingham market. In fact, we prefer that tip jars are NOT used.
  • Wedding Planner: $200-1000, or up to 10% of package price
    • PRO TIP: We do not personally expect anything, but our couples have been SO generous to us over the years and we are ALWAYS grateful for their business! We have received cash tips as well as gifts from the couple!

Optional Vendor Gratuities

The following vendors may be optionally tipped, depending on your level of services received. I have ordered the list below from “most-often tipped” to “least-often tipped”, based on our experience with our Birmingham couples!

  • Photographers and/or Videographers: $75-500 per service provider
    • PRO TIP: If your vendor has a second (or more) shooter, don’t forget them too! We usually see a nominal gratuity, less than what the business owner/head shooter receives.
  • Hired Officiant: $100
    • PRO TIP: If your officiant is working clergy (particularly if it’s your place of worship), a tip is usually not needed or necessarily appropriate. Consider a small gift or a donation to their institution if you feel inclined!
  • Band, Musicians, and/or DJ: $25-200+ per person, depending on service level
    • PRO TIP: Most often we see the DJ receiving a tip on the higher end, especially if they provide additonal services like lighting. Don’t forget any crew members as well, they often come with the band!
  • Florist/Designer: $100-300
    • PRO TIP: If your florist has worked in an expanded capacity as a designer, and especially if they have stayed on-site to more or repurpose elements, we encourage tipping them.
  • Security Officers: $20-50 per person
    • PRO TIP: We usually encourage our couples to tip security personnell additonal cash if their guest count is large! In the Birmingham area hired security is almost always off-duty police.
  • Transportation: $50 per driver/valet
    • PRO TIP: We sometimes see more than this amount if your transportation service has shuttled the wedding party to several locations. And don’t forget about the valet guys – sometimes your guests will tip, but it’s nice to offer another small gratuity at the end of the night.
  • Others/Delivery Personnel: $20-100 per person
    • PRO TIP: This can vary greatly and you should consider the level of service that the individual or the company has provided throughout the planning process!

Final advice on gratuities

The BIGGEST piece of advice is to think about this near the beginning of your planning process so that you can factor tips into your budget! Our Budget Tracker that we use with our clients includes lines to include tipping so that possible amounts can be input and tracked, and we think that helps our couples plan better!

Beyond cash tips, each one of your wedding pros would appreciate a heartfelt note and a glowing review of their services! Definitely review your wedding vendors on platforms like Google and Facebook after your wedding so that other wonderful engaged couples can learn about us too!

And of course, the absolute HIGHEST compliment you can give any wedding vendor is a personal client referral so don’t discount that either.

  • Please tip as you see fit – it’s never the dollar amount that matters, but simply the guesture of appreciation that your wedding pros are thankful for!
  • Place cash in envelopes and label each one with the vendor’s name and seal it before handing it off to your wedding planner or trusted person for distribution.

We hope this has helped clear up confusion about who to tip and how much to tip at your wedding! Need more help? Contact us below to inquire about our Wedding Planning services in the Birmingham, Alabama area!

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