Making Sense of Tipping Your Vendors

Of the many resources that lead couples to Maine when choosing their wedding destination, the diverse and talented vendor community is among the most attractive. From boutique florists, planners featuring bespoke elements tailored to your tastes, and caterers working with the freshest ingredients available, you don’t need to look far to find a wealth of incredible vendors willing to go above and beyond to make your wedding dreams a reality, at times reaching beyond what you had imagined. With a wedding community that continues to grow and nurtures some of the best, you will be stunned not only on the day of but throughout the entire process.

So how do you thank the people who ensure every box on your list gets checked, every guest leaves with a smile, and you have the day you always dreamed of? Finding the right way to say thank you can be difficult, and it can be hard to know when, if, or how much to tip for these vendors who see you through the months of planning. While not every vendor expects to get a tip, there are a few tried and true guidelines to help you navigate why and how to tip your vendors best.

Why should you plan to tip your vendors?

You’ll be fortunate to work with some of the best small businesses in Maine. Maine isn’t a state known for large chains or “man-behind-the-curtain” companies. Most of the time, you’re planning with the proprietor. Wedding professionals in Maine are artisans and specialists whose faces you will come to know and whose words will come to assure you during your planning process. They are small business owners employing locals and using Maine ingredients to give you the curated experience you came for. In most larger cities, your wedding may be one of hundreds or more in a year, but for many Maine vendors, yours will be an event they know inside and out.

How do you know which vendors to tip?

First, it’s always best to start by reviewing your contract. Some vendors, like caterers or venues with bar staff, will have gratuity as a line item in the contract. Read everything over, and don’t be afraid to ask if you have questions. Make sure to clarify, especially if you’re unsure what the cost or line item may mean. For example, a “service charge” often does not mean “gratuity” and may go back to the company directly or to another service you are receiving. When gratuity is not included, prepare the gratuity ahead of time. In situations where there is staff that should be tipped — referenced in our guide below — confer with your coordinator or event lead on how to dispense the gratuity best.

When should you tip?

Rather than you or your partner trying to track down all your vendors on your wedding day, entrust your planner or a loved one — think parent, friend, or member of the bridal party —  to distribute tips on your behalf. Write cards in advance and have them sorted and in envelopes so they are easy to hand out on your big day. Anyone you miss, drop a card in the mail after the fact! For truly stellar service, follow up after the event by leaving a great review and sharing photos of your wedding with the professionals that helped make your day run smoothly.

Whom should you tip? And how much?

When tipping your vendors, remember that there are vendors for whom gratuity is expected and others for whom it is optional but always appreciated. See the examples below for guidelines.

Expected Tips

Bands: $25/$50 per band member

DJ: $50/$150 or 15% of the total bill

Delivery Drivers/Set Up Crew: $5–$20 per person, based on the level of work required and the service received

Hair/Makeup Artists: 15–25% of the total

Reception Catering Staff: 18–20% of the final bill, usually included in the final total, but read the contract to make sure

Bar Staff: 18–20% of the final bill

Optional (but appreciated):

Officiant: $50–$100 (if hosting a religious ceremony, donate to the religious organization instead)

Planner: 10–20% of the package

Ceremony Musicians: $5–$20 per musician

Reception Musicians: $20–$50 per musician

Photographer: $50–$200 per photographer

Transportation: $50–$100 per driver, or take 10–20% of the overall package and divide by the number of drivers

Bakers/Florists/Stationers: $50–$100 or a thoughtful gift

— Abigail Worthing