I have read on several of the bridal pages and magazines this same question. Who do I tip and how much? There are several things to consider in this. With some help from recent readings and popular trends I hope to help clear the air on this.
First you tip for service. This is service that goes above what you feel your contract required. For example I worked with a Bartender that not only cleaned and cleared their glasses from the venue, but they picked up trash and plates and got them to the kitchen as well. It was not part of their contract and not at all expected. Was it appreciated? Yes of course it was. This is a case where a tip would have been appropriate. Tip when you can and what you can afford for services worth tipping. Also if a contract includes tipping you will have to tip then (very common in caterers). So lets look at some of the people at your event and how to tip them.
Venue: This is a place not a person. So in general a tip is not required. If they have someone on staff at the whole event to open up and lock up and such you still are not required to tip them. If they act as a coordinator or help with decorations and arranging things and this was not expected in the contract to be provided then a tip is in order. $50 to $100 depending on how much they do for you.
Baker: The tip is usually in the cost of the cake.
Make up and Hair: 10%-15% is the standard amount to tip.
Photographer: In general another tipping rule is if you are working with the owner of the company you don't have to tip. In the Central Texas area you will find a lot of photographers that are their own boss. At the same time many of them hire and work with a second shooter. If they bring more than one photographer then its appropriate to tip the assistant or second shooter. Now if you love your photographer and all they have done there is nothing to say that you can not tip them even if they own their own company. This goes for any of your vendors that own their own company.
DJ: Tip $25 to $50 per DJ when possible. Again the if they own their own business comes into play but this amount is the accepted minimum for tipping on a DJ.
Band: Tip is often included in their contract. If not plan on $25.00 to $50.00 per band member (don't forget about their technician if they have someone running lights and sound for them).
Bartender: $50.00 to $100 per bartender is the common tip in the Austin area. San Antonio is running $25.00 to $50.00.
Caterer: Almost always the tip is included in the contract. It usually runs 15%-20%. If not find out how many people will be working and tip them accordingly. I recommend if you are going to tip 4 people $25 dollars each you make sure you write that on the envelope before its given to the caterer and have it divided out into $25.00 sets. Do not just put in 2 $100.00 bills and hope they can split it up later.
Video: Same applies as with photographer
Decorators: If you have a company you are going to hire just to decorate for you then you should again plan on tipping the staff (your choice on the owner). Depending on the number of people and the set up depends on the amount tipped.
Rental Company: Rented items, even when delivered are a set price and there is not need to tip.
Limo: If you have rented a car, unless the driver is the owner of that car then a tip of 10-15% is appropriate.
Clergy: Check your local area to make sure how payment can be made and what is appropriate. Some judges in some areas can not take anything financial for their services, or anymore than a set price. This is a case to ask the person straight up. If they say you can just make a donation then the going rate right now is $75-$200. Church ministers often will only take a donation and add on top any pre-marital counseling they may have done with you and this is not a large amount at all.
Planner/Coordinator: Again the if they own their own business comes into play. Remember their staff though. $25-$50 per staff is acceptable. Again if your coordinator does more than agree ed upon you can defiantly tip them.
It all comes down to your choice on all of these. Always check the contracts to make sure you are not over tipping, just in case the tip is included in the contract already. I recommend putting all tips and final payments in individual envelopes and label who they go to. Then give those to your coordinator if you have one. If not get someone close to you to do this. The best man (if responsible is a good choice). The father of the bride often finds he has the time to do this.
And finally can you tip after the fact? Yes. The wedding is over. You were in a daze and loved it so much. You hear from your mother that one vendor went above and beyond and you never even noticed. At that point you can still mail them a little something to thank them for that extra effort.