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Advice on tipping wedding vendors

Tips on tipping

for The Brooklyn Paper
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There are set standards in restaurants and other service industries when it comes to tipping. But when it comes to weddings, the rules can be a little unclear.

Some of it comes down to common sense, sure, but for an idea of what to expect — and how much cash to have on hand on the big day — here are some tips on tipping.

Gratuity may already be included

Make sure a gratuity isn’t already included in your bill before you tip.

“Tipping has become standard in billing,” says Maya Kalman, CEO and creative director for Swank Productions, a Manhattan-based luxury wedding planning and event-design firm. “There are a lot of bills now where it’s automatically charged.”

Some vendors that may already include gratuity in their bills are caterers and wedding planners. Caterers, for instance, may add 15 to 28 percent of the total bill as a service or gratuity fee, which would cover tips for anyone from the waiters to the bartenders. If gratuity isn’t included, Kalman recommends 10 to 20 percent of the bill.

But how do you figure that out? Easy! Ten percent of 100 is 10, 90 is 9, 80 is 8 and so on. So to figure out, say, 20 percent of $180 you can easily figure that 10 percent is $18 and then double it $36 to make it 20 percent.

And you can always tip more if you feel the vendor did a fantastic job.

Who to tip

Off the bat, there are some vendors you can expect to tip — if you use them, of course, and are pleased with their service. Hairstylists and makeup artists, for instance, you can usually expect to tip 15 percent or more, especially if they ended up staying longer or did extra touchups after the ceremony.

The band or DJ would also be appropriate to tip. You can expect to give about 10 percent of the bill for that, said Kalman, depending on the bill and size of the band. If they also play a little bit longer than planned, tipping more would be a nice gesture.

“Sometimes bands will stay that extra five minutes,” says Kalman.

Photographers would also be good to tip, especially since after the big day, a lot of their work is done behind the scenes, spending hours going through and touching up photos. Around 10 percent would be typical.

Kalman also urges her clients to remember the “people who run around that don’t get noticed,” such as a banquet manager, driver, elevator person, or delivery person, because they often help the day run smoothly.

“Anything is generous,” says Kalman, who always makes sure to have extra cash on hand for those kinds of tips when she works weddings. “You can’t go wrong with being generous.”

Who not to tip

Beyond vendors who include gratuity in their bill, there are others who may already build it into their costs, so it wouldn’t be necessary or appropriate to tip. These include florists and cake vendors.

If you have your flowers or cake delivered, however, you should consider tipping the delivery person, especially given the precious cargo they’re in charge of delivering in one piece.

Officiants also wouldn’t take tips, but you may want to consider making a donation in their name to show gratitude.

Plan tips out in advance

Instead of frantically counting money on the day of, things will run a lot smoother if you plan your tips in advance. The night before, you can put tips for each relevant vendor in marked envelopes and then entrust a family member or bridal attendant to deliver it the day of the wedding.

If you’re still not sure what to tip or if you should tip at all, you can always ask the vendor.

“I would always ask if gratuity is included,” says Kalman. “If not, you can ask to get a list of how many people there will be and what their suggestions would be to tip each person.”

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