Thursday, September 17, 2009

Who to Tip, When to Tip, and How Much to Tip: A Guide to Wedding Vendor Tips

As if thousand dollar cakes, cars and corsages weren’t enough to stress out even the most well-intending budget-minded bride, you also have to worry about rules.

And no, I’m not talking about these rules. Or even these.

I’m talking about who you have tip, when you have to tip and-most importantly-how much you have to tip.

It is downright mind-boggling!

But there is help.

According to, unless service charges are outlined in your contract, you aren’t obligated to tip. That being said, many vendors appreciate-and secretly expect-a little extra love. So here is your own little mini-guide to wedding vendor tipping to help you understand who to tip, when to tip them and how much to tip!


Wedding Planner
Your wedding planner doesn’t expect a tip, however if she went above and beyond her duties, feel free to offer her a token gift and/or offer to write a testimonial for her website or brochures. As the bride, you will have likely spent most of the time with your planner. You can create a specially-crafted thank you card from American Greetings, enclose the check and either hand it to her discreetly at the end of the night or mail it to her following your honeymoon. The standard gift is up to $500.00

Musicians - Ceremony Musicians
This depends on who your musicians are and if you are already paying them to perform at your wedding. Many churches require their organist to be on-site and include their payment in with your rental fees. If this is the case, there is no need to tip. Otherwise, you can tip between $15-20 per musician after the ceremony.

- Reception Musicians, such as DJ or Band
Again, this is an optional group to tip, but if they worked hard to engage your crowd, were easy to meet with before the wedding and pulled your wedding off without a hitch, then feel free to ask the best man to slip them an envelope at the end of the night. The standard is $20-$25 per live musician and up to $100 for the DJ.

Videographers / Photographers
Absolutely not expected, but if you are feeling generous, some people tip photographers and videographers who don’t own the studio between $50-$200 per person at the end of the reception.


Although this falls into the “expected” category, it really depends on who the officiant is, whether he is affiliated with a church to which you have already made a donation or if you are already paying a nondenominational officiant for his time. The standard tip is $75-$100 per officiant and is usually paid in advance.

Delivery and Set-Up Staff
This group, including anyone who sets up items such as your cake, flowers, tents, chairs, etc gets a tip that ranges from $5-$10 per person. So you don’t have to worry about this on the Big Day, give your catering manager or wedding planner an envelope the day before your wedding and ask her to distribute the tips accordingly.

Hair and Makeup Staff
Just like you do when getting your trim, add in 15%-20% percent of the service and give it to your stylists once you are happy with your look.

Catering Staff

This group, including the on-site coordinator, banquet manager and servers get a tip, however read your fine print … it is often already added to your bill in the form of a service charge. If it isn't, expect to pay 15%-20% of the food and beverage fee, pre-tax. If it is included as a service charge, then you will likely settle this bill a few days before the wedding, otherwise, ask the best man to deliver an envelope to the maitre d’ at the end of the reception.


Just like with your catering staff, your driver’s tip is likely included in your transportation rental fee. If not, plan on 15%-20% percent of the final bill and ask the best man to hand it to the driver at the end of the night.

Do you have any other questions about tipping? If so, ask away!

Photo courtesy of jtyerse

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ethnic and Cultural Wedding Traditions, Part I

One of my favorite things about America is the multiple cultures, customs and traditions we share with our ancestors across the globe and there is no better time to honor your heritage than during your wedding. In part I of a two-part series on incorporating ethnic and cultural traditions into your wedding, I present you with ...

My Big, Fat Greek, Italian, Irish, Chinese Wedding: Traditions and Customs from Around the World.

Greek Wedding Customs

- For luck, abundance and a sweet marriage, a Greek bride carries a lump of sugar in her glove during the ceremony.

- To represent the Holy Trinity, the best man exchanges the rings between the bride and the groom three times.

- Two crowns made of either gold or twigs and orange blossoms are exchanged three times between the bride’s and groom’s heads.

- The crowned couple circles the church alter three times, representing their first steps together as a married couple.

For more Greek wedding customs, visit BrideHeaven.

Italian Wedding Customs

- It is customary for couples in northern Italy to walk to the wedding chapel together.

- To ward off evil spirits, an Italian groom carries a small piece of iron in his pocket.

- White candied-covered almonds called confetti symbolize good luck and fertility and are often tossed at the couple as they exit the church. Confetti are also wrapped in mesh bags and distributed to guests during the reception.

- To “raise funds” during the wedding reception, the groom’s friends cut his wedding tie into small pieces and sell them to guests as mementos of the day.

For more Italian wedding customs, visit WeddingItaly.

Irish Wedding Customs

- Irish brides consider it bad luck to put on their own veil. Instead, they ask a happily-married woman to put it on for her.

- English lavender, a symbol of love, loyalty and devotion is often mixed into the bride’s wedding flowers.

- An Irish bride usually braids her hair for her wedding day to symbolize feminine power and luck.

- A wedding on Saint Patrick’s Day is considered to be the luckiest anniversary in Ireland.

- The bride usually wears a ring called a Claddagh, which is a crowned heart held by two hands, representing faith, honor and love. The ring’s motto is “Let love and friendship reign.”

For more Irish wedding customs visit IrelandInformation.

Chinese Wedding Customs

- Red signifies love, joy and prosperity and is central to a Chinese wedding.

- The bride’s gown is often red, as are the invitations, favor boxes and envelopes. The couple’s homes are decorated in red on the day of the wedding.

- A Chinese groom is symbolically dressed by his parents on the morning of his wedding.

- The groom visits the bride’s home on his way to the ceremony and presents her friends with a cash gift wrapped in red tissue in exchange for letting her go.

- The bride and groom travel to the ceremony together.

For more Chinese wedding customs visit ChineseWeddings.

Be sure to come back next week for fresh ideas on incorporating these traditions into your wedding.

Photos courtesy of clea teclea, pigliapost, xyldes and CeeKay

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Four Common Wedding Attendant Roles (and their responsibilities)

Some people are natural-born athletes, others naturally gifted speakers, and still others are born with that innate gift to understand people and accept responsibilities. And then there are the people you have to push.

Same goes with your wedding attendants.

Some of the people you have asked into your wedding posse will automatically understand their role and know what they are supposed to do-and when they are supposed to do it. But others might need a little help.

Here are four of the most common wedding attendant roles and the responsibilities they have been waiting for you to pass on to them.

Maid /Matron of Honor
Pre and Post-Wedding
- assist bride in selecting her gown (either by helping her in person or by helping her track down her dress online)
- help bride select attire for herself and other bridesmaids
- assist bride with addressing invitations and organizing favors (this is especially fun if the bride can plan a girls night to finish wedding-related tasks)
- host bridal shower, with help from bridesmaids
- host bachelorette party, with assistance from other bridesmaids
- communicate with bridesmaids regarding dress shopping, fittings and gown delivery dates (for brides and attendants with iPhones, check out the new American Greetings iPhone app that lets you send personalized card photos directly to any email address)
- ensure bridesmaids have shoes and other accessories
- attend the rehearsal (and the dinner!)
- pay for her own wedding attire and accessories
- pay for her travel and lodging expenses

Wedding day
- assist the bride when she gets dressed
- accompany the bride to the ceremony
- carry the bride’s train as she walks to the ceremony room
- straighten the bride's veil and train before she walks down the aisle (and make sure her lipstick and mascara are all in place!)
- adjust the bride’s train after she stops at the front of the alter
- hold the bride's bouquet and the groom’s ring during ceremony
- make a toast to the bride and groom
- assist the bride with bustling her train before the reception
- accompany the bride to restroom during reception (and hold on to napkins, lipstick and breath mints that she might need throughout the night)
- gather mementos for the bride, such as program, favors, toasting glasses, etc.

Best Man
Pre and Post-Wedding
- assist the groom with tux / suit selection and notify groomsmen and ushers
- plan the bachelor party, with assistance from groomsmen and ushers
- attend rehearsal (if he is from the same town, he can offer to help transport out of town wedding attendants)
- collect tux rentals from out of town groomsmen and return them (so the bride and groom don’t have to worry about this on the first day of their honeymoon)
- pay for his wedding suit and accessories
- pay for his travel and lodging expenses

Wedding day
- assist groom with preparing transportation
- assist groom with getting ready for the wedding
- drive the groom to the ceremony
- hold the bride's ring during the wedding ceremony
- deliver the marriage license and payment to the officiant
- make first toast to the bride and groom (remember to keep it short and sweet-and clean!)
- transfer bride and groom's luggage to car or hotel room
- make sure car is ready for bride and groom to leave reception

- assist bride and maid of honor with dress selection (if the bride is unsure of what she wants, bridesmaids can help her brainstorm ideas and look up dress suggestions online)
- offer to help bride with addressing invitations or any DIY projects
- assist the maid of honor with hosting the shower and bachelorette party
- attend the rehearsal
- arrive at the ceremony site on time
- pay for their wedding attire and accessories, including hair and make-up
- pay for any travel and lodging expenses

Groomsmen / Ushers
- assist the best man in hosting the bachelor party
- attend the rehearsal
- arrive at the ceremony location on time
- pay for his wedding attire and accessories
- pay for his travel and lodging expenses

Did I leave anything out? What other duties do you think are important for wedding attendants?

Photo courtesy of pixieclipx

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Eight Tips for Wedding Day Transportation

While it might not top your list of things to plan for your Big Day, wedding transportation is an important element of the day and is too often overlooked by busy, budget-conscience brides.

Can you imagine anything worse than hoping in the car with your new husband and being crushed between your mom and his dad? Uhm. Neither can I.

If you’d like to keep that classy exit in line with the other dazzling details of your wedding day, then read on. Here are five tips for choosing wedding day transportation and three things to keep in mind when scheduling the day.

Five Tips for Choosing Wedding Day Transportation

1. Remember Your Style
Back in March we discussed knowing your wedding day style and it is important to keep that in mind when selecting your get-a-way car. If you are having an uber-chic, modern wedding, then Cinderella’s carriage likely won’t go with your style du jour. On the other hand, Cinderella might not hop on a Harley.

2. Don’t Blow Your Budget
Yes, I know I just said it was important, but it is not budget-blowing important. Determine the maximum amount you can spend on wedding day transportation and choose options that fit within your specifications.

3. Plan for the Day
I know this sounds obvious, but take a few minutes and really think about the transportation you and your soon-to-be will need for your wedding day. Do you need to be transported to the ceremony, from the ceremony to reception and from the reception to your wedding night hotel? Do you just want transportation to make your “Big Exit?” When will you make your Big Exit-from the ceremony or from the reception?

4. Think of the “Others”
And “the others” I am referring to here are the parents, siblings and attendants who might also need transportation. If, for example, you hire a limo to transport you, your groom, your families and attendants to the ceremony, how will they get from the ceremony to the reception, assuming you and your groom travel that road alone?

5. Plan in Advance
Like many other aspects of your wedding, transportation options, especially is smaller cities or rural areas can book up quickly. Be sure to get a contract with important details, such as hourly rate, overtime rate and the exact car they will send for your wedding, in writing.

Three Things to Keep in Mind Regarding Scheduling

1. People
In most instances, guests will transport themselves to and from the wedding ceremony and reception. You know your group and you are likely to know who, if anyone, needs special assistance. If you are transporting more than one group in the same car, for example, the bride and her attendants, the groom and his attendants and special family members, be sure to plan accordingly.

2. Distance
When scheduling your car, speak to the driver regarding the specifics of the trip, ensure he has directions and knows where to park and confirm he has the schedule you sent to the company. (You will need to send a detailed schedule to the company a few days before the wedding.)

If the car has to make those multiple trips we described above, be sure to leave ample time for the car to go-and return-to the original location.

3. Timing
Be sure to plan for your car to drop you off well in advance of your guests’ arrival. You don’t want to walk up to the church next to your cousin’s new girlfriend. Even if you have to pay a little more, plan to have the bride and groom, and their attendants, to the ceremony early.

What other tips and advice do you have regarding wedding day transportation?

Photo courtesy of Caribb

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Using Social Media to Plan Your Wedding

Remember the old days when you would go to some generic-sounding search engine, type in your request and wait for a list of most-relevant websites to flash before you? And you thought that was cool?

Well, this ain’t your grandmother’s Internet, anymore. The social media sites of today are making it easier than ever for Internet-users to track down the information they need-when they want it-and share that information with the World Wide Web.

There is no doubt you already have a Facebook account, maybe you like to Stumble and you Tweet with your Twits every chance you get. But if you aren’t using these social media sites to help you plan your wedding, well … you are missing a piece of the Social Media puzzle.

Here are three of the best social media websites to use for planning your wedding!

We will start with the Mother of all Social Media websites, not only because the likelihood of you having an existing account are a zillion to one, but also because it is the easiest way for you to get started using social media to plan your wedding.

Did you know you could create a Facebook group specifically for the people you’ve invited to your wedding? It is a fun-and easy-way to keep everyone in the loop and helps keep out of town guests in the know. It can also be a great way to help build excitement for your upcoming nuptials.

If you are having a large number of attendants in your wedding, you could also create a group just for them. American Greetings recently introduced a new program that lets users send ecards directly to Facebook. This is yet another way you can woo your attendants and keep them motivated for your wedding.

Twitter is changing the way we share online information … 140 little characters at a time. If you don’t already have a Twitter account, you can get started here. Then, you can search for wedding bloggers, website owners and vendors and follow them. Sometimes they offer discounts, the latest news and reviews. You can also follow me, if you are so inclined!

StumbleUpon, or SU, is one of my favorite social media sites. I use it every day to quickly search through websites other Internet users have already tagged as worthy. All you need to do is sign up for an account, download the SU bar to your browser and start stumbling. To find relevant wedding sites, go to your homepage and in the upper right-hand corner, enter the search terms in the green box.

E’ voila! It is that simple.

** Remember, you can have too much of a good thing. Don’t go overboard with any of these outlets, spam your friends an overdose of wedding-related news and never (say it with me, never!) send wedding or shower invites via social media.

Do you use Social Media to help you in your wedding planning? If so, what sites do you recommend?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More Wedding Guest Etiquette Q&A

Last week we discussed three of the most frequently asked questions regarding wedding guest etiquette. But that list was far from complete.

Today we are back to answer your etiquette questions regarding your guests and their little tagalongs.

Q: What to do when kids aren't invited and you're put on the spot when someone says, "but isn't it different for us since we are family?”

WW: Weddings bring out the best in people. Most of the time they are in a good mood, they are generous, they feel loving. Unfortunately, dear Bride-to-Be, it also brings out the worst. Many people can’t understand why you would want to exclude their little darlings from your Big Day and they can get down-right offended if their kiddos aren’t invited.

However, if you and your future spouse have opted for an adults-only wedding, then you have to stick your ground.

If you are put on the spot, tell the offending party that, unfortunately, the no-kids rule goes for family members, too.

If you feel like you must explain your decision-which you aren’t required to do, by the way-tell them you and your fiance have opted for an adults-only wedding. Stress the fact that it would make you look bad if non-family member guests showed up sans children, only to see other kids running and playing throughout the event.

If you can’t think of this quickly enough when you are on the spot, then call the family member as soon as possible and clarify the situation. Again, elaborate only where you feel you must and assure your wedding guest that it isn’t a personal attack on their children.

It is also perfectly acceptable for you to call guests who RSVP for their children and remind them you are having an adults-only reception.

Q: How do you handle guests who bring their children to an adults-only wedding, then the child proceeds to cry during the ceremony and doesn’t have a seat or meal at the reception?

WW: My number ONE rule for you regarding wedding day mishaps is to let it go. DON'T let any of your guests have that much control over you or your feelings on your wedding day.

However, if you are concerned this might happen, a little advance planning can go a long way to ease your worries.

Ask a friend to monitor for children entering the ceremony and tell her to direct all families with children either to the cry room (of a church) or to the back row.

This same friend can help control crying babies by politely asking their parents to step outside until the ceremony has ended.

Always plan for extra guests at your reception, either by leaving one or two seats open per table, or by asking your caterer to set an extra table for guests who didn't RSVP.

Did you experience anything like this during your wedding? How did you react?

Photos courtesy of jalvear and Xtream_i

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bachelorette Party Buzz: Get Your Girls Talking!

Ok, ok … so as the bride-to-be, it is not your place to plan your big bash. But, let’s face it. We all want some kind of send off from the single world we grew up in and we hope our friends will honor that event with style.

Since you can’t approach your friends and ask them if they plan on throwing you a bachelorette party … what can you do to start the discussion and get those fun girls’ night ideas flowing? Here are a couple of ideas that might help.

1. Host Your Own Party

Noooo, not your bachelorette party … just a fun, girls-only party. Gather your bridesmaids, sisters and cousins and invite them to your place for a Girls’ Night In. Choose a theme based on your group’s personality. Some examples include:

- Margaritas and a Movie
- Cosmos with Carrie (Sex in the City marathon)
- Popcorn and Pedis
- Flashback Fright Night (with 90s horror movies, such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream)

Here are a few tips to help you pull this off.

- Plan your party at least two to three months before your wedding. You don’t want it to look like you are throwing your own Bachelorette Bash and you want to give your friends plenty of time to discuss how they'd like to honor your last weekend as a Ms.

- Host the party at your house. It will be more conducive to sharing and give you a chance to really talk to your friends.

- Speaking of friends … don’t overdo it. Instead of inviting every girl you know, limit this fest to your bridesmaids, sisters and closest female relatives.

- Don’t make this night all about your wedding. In fact, try not to talk about it at all. You’ll bore your friends with too-much wedding talk and they might feel like you invited them over to help you plan your wedding. They will likely ask you about wedding plans. If they do, share the information you are willing to share, then steer the conversation in another direction.

- Watch your budget. This doesn’t have to be an expensive event. Think of it as an excuse to hang out with your closest friends and only spend what you can afford.

- Don’t bring up the topic of your Bachelorette Party. Someone else will mention it and will likely ask your opinion. Be patient. Trust me. They’ll bring it up.

2. Talk to Your Sister

What is a sister for if you can’t talk to her about off-limits topics and delicate situations? While this advice is really only good for those of us who have a sis, she is a great person to tell about what you’d like to do-and hate to do-at your Bachelorette Party. If you won’t feel like you’ve partied unless you have hit the dance floor-tell her that. If you’d prefer a coffee shop theme with books and caps to a Las Vegas Showgirl night on the town, be sure she knows that, as well.

Looking for a few fun ideas for a Bachelorette Party? Check out these 14 ideas and themes from TheKnot.Com.

Photo courtesy of eralon