How to Calculate Gratuities for Your Wedding Musician

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By Jen Whitten

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Wedding musicians and DJs are typically self-employed and don't expect to be tipped, but if you think they did an outstanding job at your ceremony or reception, go ahead and give them something extra. Here are some rules of thumb on how to handle the question of gratuities for the music makers.

  • What You Need to Know
  • There are no hard and fast rules on tipping wedding musicians and DJs.

Step 1:

Be sure who you're dealing with. If your contract is with an entertainment agency, you may see a built-in charge for a gratuity, but don't assume the musicians really get that amount. You may want to go ahead and tip them anyway in cash.

Step 2:

Take care of the organist or other players at the service. Church rental fees may include a charge for the musicians, but if they don't, you should step up and pay a tip. Fifty dollars would be about right.

Step 3:

Define your expectations. Your only expectation during the ceremony may be that the organist stays in key, while you set higher expectations of your wedding DJ to manage the tone of the reception. Voice these expectations to the musician prior to the wedding to ensure understanding and give yourself a scale to judge the performance.

Step 4:

Pick a number. For a band, you might want to tip $25 for each member. For a DJ, a percentage of the total fee might be more appropriate recognition, perhaps 15 or 20 per cent.

Step 5:

Fill gratuity envelopes with cash before the wedding. Payment of tips occurs at the end of the event when everyone is leaving. Give the envelopes to the best man or father of the bride to present to the musician at the end of the night. If the tip amount earned is less than the contents of the envelope, be sure to adjust it before you leave.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • Consider tipping a musician friend or family member more than you would a standard musical vendor. They agreed to work instead of party with everyone else. If handing out cash makes everybody uncomfortable, find a special favor you can do them in the near future.

About the Author

Jen Whitten is a freelance writer and worked in the event and wedding planning fields.

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