Tipping, According to Tradition

04/29/2010

Say-yes-tipping Tipping is a little controversial. We all know to tip waiters when we eat at restaurants, but ask people to tip for carryout, and some are bound to bristle. These days, we tip our baristas and manicurists -- even our dog groomers!

It should come as no surprise that you'll be tipping a lot of people who contribute to your wedding day. But it pays to be smart about tipping, especially since many couples don't figure in the cost of tipping when drafting their wedding budgets. Tipping the wrong people -- and tipping them too much -- can add thousands (yes, thousands!) of dollars to your overall wedding bill.

We consulted Emily Post, Martha Stewart and Brides.com for a variety of opinions on the matter. And, their advice is pretty consistent.

Here's are the non-negotiables:
  • the limo driver
  • deliverymen (those who drop off your wedding cake or table linens, for instance)
  • the bartender
  • site attendants (valet, coat room, powder room)
  • beauty staff (your hairstylist, makeup stylist, manicurist)

The gray areas:

  • You can tip your florist, DJ/band, photographer and wedding coordinator if they do not run their own companies. If they're in business for themselves, they've probably figured gratuity into your contract. Not sure? Ask if gratuity is included. Note that if these vendors rely on help from several assistants, you may want to give a little tip to ensure that everyone gets a reasonable piece of the pie.
  • Waiters, if your catering contract doesn't include gratuity.
  • The officiant may not accept a cash tip, especially if he or she is employed by the church or synagogue you attend. In that case, you can make a donation to your house of worship. You absolutely do not have to tip civil employees (and that's written on the books!).
  • The site manager and wedding coordinator are overseeing the complex orchestration of your ceremony and reception, and they're typically paid a generous fee to do so. However, if you've made several special requests of them and they've pulled through, tipping isn't a bad idea.
The bottom line:
  • There are very few people who will refuse a tip. If someone has provided exceptional service, show your appreciation! You can do so with cash, a check, a thoughtful note or even a gift (restaurant certificates and framed pictures are common choices).

What's your take on tipping wedding vendors? Leave your comments below, and be sure to keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Fretting about tipping? We can help! (iStockphoto/hidesy)

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