I get asked a lot about tipping – and there are oodles and oodles of blog articles about tipping wedding vendors; who to tip and how much.  The problem though, is that most of the blog posts are written by Americans.  As much as I love them, I find that Americans are “tip crazy” – especially in certain regions.  For example –I have a dear friend who is a paralegal, and she gets tipped at Christmas from her customers.  It’s not a bonus from her boss – customers tip her.  I have a friend in New Jersey who is an electrician – and he gets tips as well when he goes into a home to do repair work.  Have you ever heard of such a thing as Calgary tipping?  I didn’t think so.

I also see these articles calling for tips to the delivery personnel, the banquet space set-up personnel and the Maître D’ of the restaurant.  I personally haven’t encountered a single venue with a Maitre D’ in this area, so I find those articles don’t really address our local services, and culture. 


So, here’s my 2 cents (Canadian) on the subject.

A TIP is a gratuity – it is not a commission.  TIP stands for “To Insure Promptness” and it was an incentive for service staff to offer quick and friendly service to customers.   A gratuity is just that – a display of gratitude for good service.  These days, TIPs are pretty much mandatory in food and beverage establishments, and we, as a society, have accepted that.  About 20 years ago, the tipping norm was 10% – it crept up to 15% shortly thereafter.  Now, 18% to 20% is expected.  But, who else do we tip?

In my opinion, if you pay a vendor a “fee for service”, then they don’t get a tip.  Who do you pay a fee for service?  Here are some examples:

  • Wedding Planner or Coordinator
  • Florist
  • DJ or Band
  • Photographer / Videographer
  • Cake supplier
  • Invitation designer
  • Wedding Officiant or Pastor

 So – who’s left to tip? 

  •  Catering and Banquet service personnel – the food and beverage contracts will almost always include a mandatory gratuity on the quote and the invoice.  If you haven’t included the TIP or gratuity in your budget then you really need to add that as a line item.  A 20% surprise on the largest expense of your wedding will really add up! 
  • Bartender if you  have hired them independently (not provided by the banquet hall, for example)
  • Chauffeur or Limo Driver – although the transportation company will also include a mandatory tip for the driver in the quote and contract
  • Hair and Make-Up person – regardless of whether they provide the service at the salon, or do a mobile service.  (I recommend a larger tip for mobile service, but that’s just me).


Tell me what you think about this.  Did you tip differently at your wedding, or did your friends tip differently?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you are looking for a Calgary wedding planner, please contact me!

Pam McCarthy - Meeting Planner