Wedding Vendor Tips

We often get asked by our clients, who should receive tips and how much. We reached out to our friends at and came up with this “Vendor Tip Cheat Sheet” which should help guide you through the tipping process.

Wedding Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist

This is one area where a gratuity is definitely expected. Tip between 15 – 20 percent just as you would in a hair salon, and consider giving a little extra if there’s a crisis, like one of your bridesmaids has a meltdown over her updo and it requires a redo at the last minute.
Protocol: Expected
The $tandard: 15 – 25 percent, depending upon the quality of service
When to Tip: At the end of your service

Wedding Delivery and Set-up Staff

Slip a few dollars to anyone delivering important items to the site (wedding cake, flowers, or sound system, lighting, draping, etc…). And if a lot of gear needs to be brought in and set up (tents, chairs, or port-a-potties), the workers deserve a tip too.
Protocol: Expected
The $tandard: $5 – $10 per person
When to Tip: Drop off cash envelopes the day before the wedding to the catering manager so the person accepting deliveries can turn the tip.

Wedding Ceremony Officiant

If your officiant is affiliated with a church or synagogue, you’re often expected to make a donation to that institution. If you’re a member you’ll probably want to give a larger amount than if you’re not. However, if you’re getting married there and they’re charging you to use the space, feel free to give a smaller amount. If you’re using a nondenominational officiant, no tip is required because they will charge you for their time.
Protocol: Expected (depending on officiant)
The $tandard: Donate $500+ to the church or synagogue, or, for a nondenominational officiant, an optional tip of $50 – $100
When to Tip: Most ceremony fees are required prior to the wedding. Otherwise, have the best man pass the cash envelope at the rehearsal dinner if the officiant is in attendance.

Wedding Ceremony Musicians

If you worked with a mini orchestra to come up with the perfect score for your service (and they pulled it off flawlessly), consider showing some monetary thanks for their talent. However, you probably don’t have to tip the solo church organist who was required to play.
Protocol: Optional
The $tandard: $15 – $20 per musician
When to Tip: At the end of the ceremony.

Wedding Photographer/Videographer/Photobooth

You’re not expected to give your shutterbugs any dough beyond their normal fees. Yet if the wedding photographer or videographer doesn’t own the studio, consider tipping each person (or give a certain amount with a thank-you note to disperse to staff).
Protocol: Unnecessary, unless the photographer is not the studio owner.
The $tandard: $50 – $200 per vendor
When to Tip: At the end of the reception.

Wedding Reception Staff

This type of staff includes the on-site coordinator, maitre d’, and banquet manager. A service charge is almost always built in to the food and drink fee, so check your contract. If the gratuity is not included, tip as follows.
Protocol: Expected
The $tandard: 15 – 20 percent of the food and drink fee (based on labor, not the cost), or $200 – $300 for the maitre d’.
When to Tip: If it’s covered in the contract, the final bill is typically due before the reception. Otherwise, have the father of the bride or best man hand the envelope to the maitre d’ at the end of the reception since you will need to know the final tab to calculate the percentage.

Wedding Reception Attendants

When it comes to bartenders, waitstaff, parking, bathroom, and coat-room attendants the rules of tipping are dictated by your contract. If the service fee is included, consider doling out extra only if the service was exceptional. If it’s not included, ask ahead of time how many attendants will be working your wedding and calculate on a per person basis.
Protocol: Optional, based on contract
The $tandard: $20 – $25 per bartender or waiter; $1 per guest for coat room and parking attendants; $1 per car
When to Tip: Although tips are traditionally passed out at the end of the event, you could alternately distribute them at the beginning of the evening, to encourage all the workers to give you great service.

Wedding Reception Band or DJ

Whether you hire 12-piece swing band or grooving to a DJ, tipping musicians is completely optional. (Depending on the quality of the job and how willing they were to follow your ideal playlist!) And don’t forget about any sound technicians they bring with them.
Protocol: Optional, yet preferred
The $tandard: $20 – $25 per musician; $50 – $150 for DJs
When to Tip: At the end of the reception, by the best man.

Wedding Transportation

Again, check your contract, as gratuity is usually included. If it isn’t, plan to tip provided they show up on time and don’t get lost!
Protocol: Expected
The $tandard: 15 – 20 percent of the total bill
When to Tip: At the end of the night or after the last ride. If you used a separate company for the guest buses, designate a bus captain to hand the driver a tip, otherwise, this duty falls to the best man.

Wedding Planner

Wedding planners won’t likely expect anything; however, if yours did a great job you can always offer a token of your appreciation. (Note: Non-monetary thank-yous like professional photos of the wedding for the planner’s portfolio can go a long way too.) Approximately 50 percent of couples do tip their planners — typically those with more opulent weddings.
Protocol: Optional
The $tandard: Up to $200, or a nice gift
When to Tip: The bride should hand off the envelope at the end of the reception, or, she should send a thank-you note with photos or a check after the honeymoon.

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Ourdoor wedding photos

With spring here and summer right around the corner many of our clients ask where they can go for photos between the ceremony and reception.  When choosing your location make sure you always consider the weather.  You know Chicago weather is very unpredictable!  Also, when deciding on the location remember there might be fees/permits require.  Always do your homework before the big day!  Here is a list of locations that I personally love.  Try to be original and have fun with your photographer this will help capture a truly wonderful experience.

Local park – any local park is a great area to go! There’s always greenery and wide open spaces and the wedding party inevitably jumps on the playground equipment!

Busse Woods – Schaumburg – for a lovely feel, lots of trees, prairies and a few lakes, never disappoints! There’s lots of other forest preserves around the Chicago area so there’s always one close that we can use.

Cantigny – Wheaton (fee involved) – Cantigny is one of my favorite places and relatively inexpensive for photos, everything is professionally landscaped and there is a mix of buildings and greenery.

Downtown areas – If you’re getting married and the area has a cute downtown, go ahead and utilize it! Naperville, Geneva, St. Charles, Arlington Heights, Elmhurst, Long Grove are just a few of the downtown areas that have some great locations and are free.

Lynfred Winery – Roselle – Do you and your wedding party love wine? You can schedule a tasting in between and get some gorgeous pictures in their suites and your wedding party can have a bit of fun instead of just doing pictures. This is also a great rain backup plan. There’s lots of good outdoor areas at Lynfred as well!

Your venue – whether you’re having it at a country club or hotel, there’s always some areas that we can use for photos!

Redfield Estates – Glenview – a posh little area with buildings and very wooded.

Morton Arboretum – Lisle – A little on the expensive side for taking pictures but lovely year round!

Lilacia Park – Lombard – just wonderful in the spring when the lilacs are blooming, next to a great downtown area for a variety of looks

Wilder Park – Elmhurst – a mix of buildings and greenery

*Thanks for the suggestions.

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Quadrangle Club

Over a month ago, we had the opportunity to coordinate a wedding at the Quadrangle Club at the University of Chicago ( We loved it so much as it is truly a unique wedding venue with a very elegant and modern twist. The ceremony, which took place at Bond Chapel (on campus as well) was a small, quaint, cathedral-like chapel which also allowed for beautiful pictures! We had the opportunity to work with Chicago-based photographer Daniela Cardili ( Below are some highlights from the wedding (you can find more pics posted to our Facebook page as well). Enjoy!

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