When planning a wedding, generally one of the first things to consider is your budget. As you may know, this will ultimately determine the who, what, where, and when for your wedding details. When it comes to hosting a destination wedding, oftentimes the topic of gratuities comes up. It’s easy to forget about gratuity for your vendors when you are hosting your wedding at an all-inclusive resort and everything tends to be ‘packaged’ together.
Gratuity is one of those wedding planning areas that tend to have some ‘gray area’. Of course, just like when you go to a restaurant, bar, or salon here in the United States, your tipping will be based on your experience and expectations. It’s hard to keep track of who is doing what when it comes to your wedding day so don’t hesitate to ask your planner or coordinator for the details on how many staff members are really helping make your day perfect.
For gratuities, there are a few simple rules to think of:
– Was this person or group able to meet my needs, and exceed in communication?
– Did this person or vendor exceed my expectations?
– Would I generally tip this vendor if I had a wedding in the USA?
– Did I work with this vendor for several months confirming and organizing details?
– Did this vendor or person have extensive work in extreme weather conditions?
Remember, gratuities are never expected or required, but they are always greatly appreciated.
If you are considering gifting gratuities for your vendors, I have some suggested amounts below that are applicable to Mexico, Costa Rica and the Caribbean Islands. Be sure to organize your tips into blank envelopes, seal and label them to have your wedding planner or coordinator distribute accordingly. During your leisure time on the resort, it may be helpful to carry around a small amount of cash to distribute as you see fit. American dollars is just fine, so there is no need to exchange money.
Florist/Décor: $10 per set up staff, or $50 total. Consider the amount of décor, and the set up behind it. If you have a good amount of detail and décor that needs to be set up on the beach (farthest from the vehicle) I suggest considering a generous tip.
Onsite Banquet Staff: $10 a person, and $50 for the banquet captain. You can check with the hotel’s wedding coordinator to confirm the number of staff. On average, you may have 1 banquet staff for ever 12 people. The banquet captain is the wedding coordinator’s right-hand person. Your banquet captain will be the person who manages the end of your reception and coordinates all food and beverage detail.
Bartenders: $20-40 a bartender. Your bartenders should keep the party going! Generally, there are 1-2 bartenders per event. Consider that there is likely going to be 2 bartenders and if you have more than 100 guests, 3 bartenders.
Photography/Videography: As a general rule, if the photographer owns the company, you are not required to tip. However, if you have hired your photographer/videographer to travel, take their time on personal expenses into consideration. A tip of $100 per person may be nice, or you can offer to upgrade their room, take them on an excursion, or extend their stay. If you opt to use the hotel’s photographer, they will likely not be the owner of the company, so consider $25-75 a person depending on the quality and length of time of their services.
DJ or Musicians: $20-$40 a person, or 10% of the total cost. If your DJ company is also supplying a dancefloor (and installation), photo booth, or lighting services, you should check to see how many staff will be assisting.
Officiant: If you are using the officiant that is included in your wedding package, $50, or a nice gift is great. If you are having a friend or family member perform your ceremony, consider one of the following ideas: $50-$100, a room upgrade or excursion.
Onsite Coordinator: Your onsite coordinator will not expect a tip, but if he or she went above and beyond, $50 or a thoughtful gift would be nice for them.
Salon- Hair and Makeup: 15%-20% of the total amount of services. If you hired an external vendor to do hair and makeup who traveled to the hotel, be sure to check your invoice to see if gratuity was already included. If not, I suggest closer to 20%. If you have a family member or friend who has offered to do hair and makeup, be sure to think of a special gift or gratuity for their efforts as this is no easy task!
Housekeeping: $3-5 a day is generally suggested for housekeeping. If you tip generously, you will often find that they will go above and beyond with romantic gestures or fun surprises in your room for when you return.
Bellman: It is standard to tip the bellman $1-2 per bag. If a bellman offers to escort you to your room and gives you tips about the resort, consider $3-5.
Bar and Wait staff in Restaurants: While you are at an all-inclusive, it is important to remember that tips can be considered included, but if you leave a buck per cocktail order, or a $5 at dinner, it really goes a long way and makes a positive difference in so many employees’ lives.
Transfers/Drivers: Don’t forget to tip your drivers who help get you where you need to be. For drivers who take you to or from the airport, consider tipping $5-10 depending on how many people from your group are going with you. If you are going on a group excursion, consider tipping $1 per person each way. If you have a private excursion or private transfer, tipping above average can be a great way to show appreciation for hospitality.