Tipping guidelines for planning your wedding

By Kay H.

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So many details go into wedding planning that it's easy to overlook tipping the various vendors and helpers who make the day special. But it's best to consider the matter of tipping sooner rather than later.

My experience in planning wedding details has taught me a few good guidelines that may be of use to you.

Note your vendor's status

Essentially tipping depends on one factor -- does your vendor own the company?

I'll tackle music first -- in the case of a DJ who is in business for him/herself, the money is already going straight into their pockets and they have accounted for a tip in their fee, so don't feel like you need to give extra unless they really wowed you.

If you booked through an agency, the company will usually either add a gratuity in their contact or suggest you give each band member or DJ a little extra in cash. If the contract says "service charge," that often goes right back to the company. I'd suggest about $20 -$25 apiece for band members.

Estimates for food service

For catering staff, a percentage of 15 to 20 percent of the total bill, to be distributed by the manager, is good. If you want to tip separately, for management $50-$100 is good, chefs $50, for servers $20-25. Bartenders you might want to give about $100-$150, especially if your crowd may get rowdy. (Depends on how the evening goes, of course!)

Don't forget stylists and photographers

Some other suggestions -- if you have stylists or makeup artists, 15-20% of the total bill is appropriate; for photographers who do NOT own their own business, $30-$50 is good.

In general, if you are in doubt, don't feel obligated to tip if the vendor owns his or her own company. But if you do want to give a little something and you're not sure, $20-$50 per person, no matter their stature, is generally a much appreciated and generous gesture.

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