One of the most common questions that brides and grooms have for our Ask the Expert section is about tipping. Do you tip the band? The DJ? And if so, how much?
If you are working with a wedding planner, this is a discussion you should really have with him or her. They know your area and what's standard in your area best. You should also make sure to read your contract carefully. Some contracts include tips.
Some sites advise that it is not necessary to tip someone who owns his or her own business. Of course, tips are always voluntary, but if you are planning on tipping, you should not necessarily consider ownership in making your decision.
The most common answers given are:
For Ceremony Musicians - $15-$20 per musician. If the musicians work for your house of worship check with officials there for protocol.
For Bands - $20/$25 per member
For DJs - $50-$100
We didn't want to just give you standard answers though, so we asked our members their thoughts on the subject, some of their thoughts may surprise you.
Patrick Lewis (Sights & Sounds Productions, DJ, West Virginia): My feeling on this is no different that anytime someone mentions should they tip any person in any field.....a tip is a reflection of the service you receive. No one should feel they are required to tip anyone. If you feel the person who you hired (no matter what vendor it was) met your expectations, then tip them accordingly. But no one should ever be made to feel like a tip is something they are expected to do. If a business owner is counting on tips to make their business successful, they have themselves priced wrong. Your price should be the full reflection of what you want to make on an event, and the tip should not be included in that projection. That being said, in my area tips range between $50-$150.
Gerald DJGsyde Stinson (DJ): As with any service that is provided, if you provide great service, your customer or client "should" tip you. That is regardless if you own your own business or you're spinnin' for someone else. I go above and beyond for all my clients, brides/grooms or just regular party goers. I would love a tip each and every time but not receiving one is not going to make me provide a lesser quality service if they hire me again in the future. 10% is a great suggestion but it has varied in Atlanta. I've been tipped $20, I've been tipped $400. I don't know that you can set a standard for any given area unless you keep it uniform with other service providers like waitresses and waiters (10%).
Justin A. Nelson (AJ Entertainment, Florida) I have received tips from $30-$200, I have seen the bride & groom hold a dollar dance and then hand it to me at the end of the night. A lot of the wedding parties I emcee/dj are friends or referrals so I know most of them. I always appreciate the recognition.
Christopher DJStudda Gonzalez (DJ, Ohio): Client referrals is tip enough for me my services are priced according to my overhead and if I get future clients from a show great and if I get a tip it just makes the icing on the cake so much sweeter
Dave L Hayek (Big D's Musical Extravaganza - DJ, Wisconsin): I have gotten tips of $25 to $100. I don't expect it, but if they think I did a good job for them and kept everybody happy and having fun it is nice to get one or get a great review or some referrals. The main thing is making them happy for the start of their new life as husband and wife and give them some great memories of their reception.
Jennifer Lawrence Butler (Trio Maxim - Cellist, California) We've received tips ranging from 10-25% of the billed amount, and it's always appreciated. I think 10% would be a nice suggestion for couples.
Derek Evan (DJ, New Jersey) I found that there is no "standard" for DJ's at weddings in NY, NJ, and PA. About 50% of the time I do not receive a tip, and the other 50% of the time I receive a tip that might range from $10 to $100. There doesn't seem to be any kind of pattern. I certainly appreciate the tips when they are given to me, but I never expect any tips. I don't even give recommendations regarding tipping, since that might imply that I'm expecting a tip. Of course my experiences may be different from others since I have my own company and I'm not working as an employee of another DJ company. People often to not tip when the person providing the service is also the person who owns or manages the company.
Kevin McHugh (All American DJ Service, Las Vegas & Wisconsin) Doing a great job is its own reward. Referrals and reviews are also great. There are jobs now where it's coming from a fourth generation referral and you can't buy that. In Las Vegas, tipping is much more common. You might get $100 for a simple teen party. But in Wisconsin, you might do an all day event and not get a tip. Also, I've found that when I throw in "freebies" for people for some reason they are LESS likely to tip.
Sara Klotz de Aguilar (Sara & Swingtime, California) As a bandleader in the SF Bay Area (which is overall an expensive place), many time we are tipped, mostly at weddings, seldom at any other type of party. Usually they tend to make it between $25 and $100 per band member. I never, never bring it up in conversation, but if they ask me before the gig I always tell them that my fee is what we need, and anything above that is their own decision and should be based on how good a job we do. Funny, it also seems that the ones who pay the best to begin with, also tip the best!
What are your thoughts about tipping? Share them in the comments below.