Tipping at your Wedding
by Michael Kabel

There's an old story that alleges the original meaning of "tips" was an abbreviation of "to insure proper service." We have a feeling that idea is largely apocryphal, though the sentiment is a nice thought. The truth is, tipping is the main source of income for almost everyone working in the service industry. For your waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and other support staff at the wedding reception and rehearsal dinner, it's a vital source of income and the difference between an average day at work and a great one.

If you were one of the millions who waited tables or tended bar in high school and college, any attempt to tell you the importance of tipping is just preaching to the choir. But come your Big Day, don't forget to hand out the gratuities. There's an etiquette to how much and who to tip, however, so you're not hemorrhaging cash when you could be enjoying your wedding festivities.

How To Tip

Really the only way to tip comes down to the main money: cash. Dead presidents. Mean green (or whatever color it is these days.) You should use discrete envelopes to hold the money, though, and don't wave it around during the celebrations.

Tip when the services are concluded. It's the responsibility of the bride's father or the best man to hand out the moolah, handing off the envelope with a simple "thank you" and nothing else in the way of presentation - making a big deal of it will come off condescending and pompous. The tip is meant to show gratitude, not what a Big Man you are.

Who To Tip & How Much

These are the people you should tip at he conclusion of the dinner or reception:

- Limousine drivers get 15 percent of the total transportation bill. If they've done extra work, you might include a little something more.

- Disc jockeys get an extra 50 to 100 dollars. Remember, they helped everyone have a good time. If everyone had a great time, they deserve something better.

- The wait staff's gratuity might be included in your contract, but also possibly not. Find out for sure. If not, you should tip them 15% - 20% of the total catering bill.

- Like the wait staff, the tip for the bartenders might be already included. But if it's not, or if your reception was a rollicking good time, you should include an extra 50 to 100 bucks. They can split the money between the two of them. You might also let them set out a tip jar during the last hour of the reception.

These people are optional to tip, though you should consider doing so if you were especially pleased with their service.

- Live entertainment: an extra $15 per hour of performance.

- Photographers and videographers get an extra 50 dollars.

- The wedding planner might get an additional 10% of the total bill.

Of course, these percentages and amounts are flexible, depending on your budget. One person not to tip is the officiant. Giving them extra money downplays the importance of their office, and demeans the execution of their duties.