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Wedding gratuity etiquette

It seems that so many expenses exist when paying for a wedding. Not only must the bride and groom pay for the caterer, the florist, the photographer, for the church and for the minister, there's a hidden expense that they may forget---gratuities. While people have called the practice voluntary, good manners dictate that the bride and groom (or their families) tip the people involved in their wedding. However, this constitutes a grey area---some tips are considered "mandatory," while others are optional.

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Tipping Etiquette

According to the Frugal Bride website, the idea of having to pay more to people to whom the bride has already given money is disheartening to say the least. The practice of tipping is voluntary in principle, but the reality of the modern wedding etiquette dictates otherwise. However, the bride can still exercise discretion when deciding whom and how much to tip.


Some vendors don't allow the wedding party to tip their employees, or they make arrangements themselves for them to receive tips. This expense is figured into the budget that the bride and groom are given for the wedding. The best practice is to ask the vendor if he allows tipping or if he adds a gratuity to the bill.


Paying people their gratuities is the responsibility of the wedding coordinator if the bride has employed one. If not, the responsibilities falls on the best man. They should find out for whom is a gratuity optional and for whom it is not. Additionally, they need to determine if they are to give the people working the wedding a flat fee or a percentage; it's different in almost every case. However, there are also restrictions; no one should receive a tip larger than £9, even if he or she would normally receive a percentage. The wedding coordinator or best man should plan on giving all tips in cash and in separate envelopes.


According to the Frugal Bride, the people falling into the optional tipping category are the business owners, the musicians, the photographer or videographer, the florist, the baker, the wedding coordinator and the wedding planner. However, the officiant is a grey area. Frugal Bride suggests that he isn't tipped, but the Our Marriage website says he is, particularly if he has to travel.


In the "not optional" category falls the alter boys or girls, the limousine drivers, the parking attendants, the waitstaff, the bartender(s), the rest room or coat attendants, make-up and hairstyle artists, and the DJ.

Food for Thought

Knowing who and when to tip causes many people involved with big events a small amount of pre-wedding panic. The best solution for this is for the bride, groom and their families to educate themselves about what is common wedding etiquette long before the couple says "I do." Additionally, many conflicting reports exist as to whom should be tipped and who shouldn't. The consciences of the bride and groom should dictate how much to tip. If they feel as if they'd later regret not tipping someone who made the wedding memorable, then they should by all means give them a gratuity.

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About the Author

Buffy Naillon

Buffy Naillon has worked in the media industry since 1999, contributing to Germany's "Der Spiegel" magazine and various websites. She received a bachelor's degree in German from Boise State University. Naillon also attended New York University and participated in the foreign exchange program at Germany's Saarland University. She is completing her master's degree in educational technology at Boise State.

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