As a Wedding Planner, I often get asked by clients who in their vendor list should receive tips. The question is a reasonable one. In fact, that my clients understand that tipping their vendors -- while not a requirement -- should be a major consideration, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Here is the short answer: Anyone, and I mean ANYONE who has provided a SERVICE with regards to your wedding should be tipped, if you are HAPPY with the service provided.

It doesn't matter if the service was for an hour or for a year, nor does it matter if you paid a discounted rate or an exhuberant fee. (Would you not tip your waiter at a fancy restaurant just because you already paid for a fancy meal?)  Bottom line is that if your Wedding Professional provided a service and you're thrilled with the outcome, TIP.

Now, unlike many other blogs, articles and web sites out there, I'm not going to sit here and lay out monetary suggestions, percentages or materialistic ideas. Yes, when it comes to things like monetary tips, there may be amounts to which many of us are accustomed. But those amounts are not mandetory, they're suggestions.  In my humble opinion, whatever you can afford as a tip for your wedding professional is acceptable, and again, at your discretion. After all, tipping is a way to show your appreciation for a job well done.

If you tip your Wedding Professionals, they know that you were happy with their service and truly appreciate all their hard work. If you don't, no matter how much praise you heap upon them, they'll likely spend many sleepless nights wondering what the heck they could have done wrong to make you not appreciate their efforts (and they likely will, because hey, no Wedding Professional is going to call you up and say "Hey, so I noticed that you didn't give me a tip...")

Now understandably, if your Wedding Professional, such as your venue or caterer for example, has Gratuity already incorporated into the contract, you don't have to provide an additional tip. And obviously, if you're NOT happy with the service, tipping would be out of the question (which is why you typically offer tips after the service has been rendered). But if you're happy and you know it, clap your hands and tip your vendors.

OK, OK, for those of you who really want a list of Wedding Professionals that should be considered for tipping, here is a rough idea, in no particular order:

Food/Beverage Professionals (IF gratuity is not already included in the contract)
-- this includes Catering/Banquet Managers, Servers and Bartenders

Any Venue Attendants
-- including Valet, Coat Room and Bathroom

Wedding Planner

Florist/Floral Designer




Entertainment -- including ceremony musicians/singers, cocktail hour musicians/singers, DJ, Band, special performers, etc

Cake Designer

Stationary Designers (IF your stationary was custom designed)

 -- limos, limo buses, taxi cabs, corporate cards, exotic cars, etc. 

Hair & Make-up

Officiant/ Minister/Clergy Member/Church (for Church's tips are normally in the form of a donation)



So you've got a party in mind. Maybe it's your child's Birthday Party, or an engagement soiree or a special gathering to commemorate a milestone in your life. Congrats! Now begins the wonderful blend of tediousness and fun in creating a party that you believe is going to be the best one to happen in 2012!

Before you roll up your sleeves and get crackin', here are 5 Major Party Planning Mistakes that you will want to avoid. (Oh yes I could go on forever but I have only have a word count to adhere to...or try to adhere to anyhow):


When deciding on a theme for your party -- whatever the celebration -- make sure you really think it through. Will it excite your guests? Is it suitable for the celebration? Will the guest of honor like it?  For example, while Planning an "Over the Hill" Birthday party for your family member or dear old pal might seem like a fun idea and, of course, the theme has the best (humorous) intentions, you have to consider the feelings of that person who has to sit through it. Maybe they're NOT OK with turning a ripe old age. Maybe they've been dreading this moment their entire life. And now they have to grin and bear a party that blatantly throws that fact in their face and pretend that it doesn't bother them.

That Tackle-Football themed party (complete with tackle-football game) or Ultimate Frisbee party may seem like a wild and awesome party to your college buddies...to your older or less physically capable friends or family...not so much.

Properly thinking through a thematic concept by keeping your guests, your guest of honour and the logistics in mind will help you create that party of the year...in a good way, rather than "THAT party of the year" in a bad way.


This might leave you scratching your head a bit so let me explain. If you are the host of a party, relying on your guests to get the party started is a really, really bad idea. Your guests are arriving expecting to be entertained. Not the other way around. Whether it's chatting up your guests, breaking out the Karaoke or Rock Band or...eek...introducing an Icebreaker Game, it's up to YOU to get that party rockin'.

Hiding out in the kitchen prepping food/drinks is not the model for a good host/hostess either. As the host you should be making your guests feel welcome and mingling among them. If you have to enlist the help of others -- professionally or family/friend related -- then do so. If there's two of you hosting a party then take turns throughout the night as the kitchen maid and the host.


Not giving your guests sufficient time to plan in attending your fete is a major boo boo. Your guests need adequate time to sort out their schedules, find babysitting, purchase gifts (if that's what they want to do), arrange transportation, etc. Don't let your invitations be the last thing on your Party Planning To-Do List. It should be one of the first.

At the same time, giving your guests too much notice of your special gathering can backfire on you as well. Invitations sent too far in advance can be forgotten or misplaced. Here is a rough idea of when you should be sending out invitations (of course this depends on location, etc):

Birthday/Formal Dinner /Anniversary / Graduation Parties - 3 to 6 weeks
Cocktail Parties - 2 to 4 weeks
Weddings - 8 weeks to three months (local), 6 months (out of town/country)
Bar/Bat Mitzvah - 1 to 2 months
Thanksgiving Parties - 2 weeks to 2 months
Christmas Parties - 1 to 2 months
Housewarming Parties - 1 to 3 weeks
Lunch/Tea Parties - 1 to 2 weeks


Sure, you never want this day to end. But your guests do.

Most parties that require a reception such as Weddings, Anniversaries, Bar/Bat Mitzvah typically go for on for 5 -8 hours or more. This is because there is usually a multi-course lunch/dinner followed by dancing set in place. However for parties arranged for Birthdays, etc, it's important to keep in mind your guests' comfort factor, age and, of course, food and entertainment. Remember, the longer the party the more food and entertainment needed.

Need a rough guideline? The average child's (in-home) Birthday party should be anywhere from 1.5 hours to 2 hours, depending on their age (younger means less time). The average adult (in-home) Birthday party should be anywhere from 2 - 3 hours. The average cocktail reception should be 2 to 4 hours. If you think that most of your guests typically arrive late, add an extra half hour buffer.

We've all been to that party where there wasn't a clear ending time and it seemed to drag on forever because no one wanted to be the first person to leave. By setting out a clear start and end time and building a proper timeline you'll have happy guests who had a good time and now can go about the rest of their day/evening not feeling guilty for "bailing early".


This is pretty much a staple in planning ANYTHING. You have to think about all the "what if's" that can happen during your soiree or else you could wind up looking like a bad host/hostess, no matter how beyond your reach the situation is. Having a party that involves a backyard BBQ? Plan ahead for increment weather. Having a Birthday Party for your 4 year old? Expect that not all parents are going to drop off their kids and leave (in other words, have adult drinks/munchies on hand!). Assuming that not all your guests are going to come? Forget that noise! Assume that ALL your guests are going to come and if you don't have enough space in your home to accommodate all invited guests, rent out a space somewhere else! Having a lot of guests or want your party to have a huge visual or entertaining impact? Budget appropriately!

By ensuring that all your i's are dotted and all your t's are crossed you can focus on throwing the best damn party ever instead of staring up at the threatening storm clouds wishing to high heaven you had more than one umbrella in your closet.