When planning a wedding, paying for transportation to and from your ceremony site and reception venue isn’t one of your major expenses (click here to see a complete ranking of wedding expenses in your area). However, this cost can add up if you have a large wedding party that will also be transported or if you are hosting your wedding out of town and are providing transportation for guests who are flying in. What most couples aren’t aware of is that they are required to tip limo drivers and should factor in that additional cost into their budgets, regardless if whether the service hired automatically adds in a “gratuity fee” into their bill or if the tip is paid separately at the end of the evening.
Before reading this article, do keep in mind that although tipping a limo driver at the end of the night is expected, there are several ways to determine how much the specific amount of the gratuity should be. Below are listed the things you should always consider before deciding on how much money is appropriate to tip your limo driver.
How Long Are They Working For?
The first question you need to ask yourself is how long will your limo driver be needed to be retained for your event. Since limousines are traditionally rented for a minimum of four or six hours (or more) for weddings, chances are good that you may be using their services for most of the day. Realize that most limo drivers don’t make that much money in wages directly from the company. As such, the majority of their take home income is dependent on the tips that people provide for them.
There really isn’t a “set” rule that you can use to determine how much you should tip your limo driver. However, as a general rule the longer they are providing transportation the higher the rental bill will be and the higher the tip amount (calculated as a percentage of the total bill) should be as well. For example: If a driver is simply taking you to or from a venue then a $20 tip can suffice in most situations, but retaining a driver for 4-6 hours on a Saturday night may very well justify giving them a $100 tip (assuming they provided good service) or more, depending on the total cost of your rental for the evening.
Are They Being Professional?
Just like every service based job, the higher quality of service being delivered, the higher percentage tip should be given in appreciation. Here are some signs that you have hired a professional quality limo chauffer and not a run of the mill driver:
- Do They Have a Chauffer’s License, Training, and a Clean Driving Record – Some states and municipalities require for limo drivers to have a chauffer’s license. The better limo companies will also have policies regarding the driving records of their drivers. Ask about both when interviewing your limo company and go with another service if they are anything less than knowledgeable or happy about sharing their driver’s qualifications with you. Training also goes beyond defensive driving courses and can include if your driver knows how to assist brides how to properly enter/exit the vehicle without creasing her dress or bridal train.
- Proper Attire and Grooming – As limos are reserved for special occasions, your driver should always be professionally dressed with the traditional black and white uniform and tie. They should also be properly groomed and even smell nice as they will be in close proximity with you and your guests.
- Are They Punctual – Having the flashiest and most sought after late model limousine means nothing if the bride arrives half an hour late to her own wedding! A good driver will ALWAYS plan to arrive fifteen minutes early and will have accounted for weather, traffic delays, driving times, and even parking availability beforehand. If you have to shout out directions from the back seat, then they aren’t as prepared as they should be.
- Their Disposition – How professionally (and friendly) does your driver interact with you and your guests? Good drivers will greet you, open doors, respond to questions, and always make you feel special on your big day. Good drivers know how to ‘read’ their clients by interacting and engaging with their clients if the situation calls for it, and driving in silence if their clients wish for privacy.
- Attention to the Details: Unexpected things always happen in life, and the best chauffeurs will be prepared for every eventuality! They should have the interior of the car spotless, properly stocked, and have the climate control set at a comfortable temperature before picking up their clients. They should also have items like tissues, towels (for spills), shoe shine cloths, and umbrellas ready to use when needed.
With so much effort going into making this the most special day in your life, you should keep in mind the amount of professionalism that a limo driver carries with him or her should be directly proportionate to how much money you tip them.
What is Your Budget?
There are always couples who will be caught up in the moment and more than graciously tip good drivers much more than traditional amounts. However, as a rule you should always budget for an appropriate gratuity but don’t go over your set budget unless they provided exceptional service and you can easily afford it.
Should You Double-Tip?
You should always take into account whether or not a gratuity charge has already been added to the final bill when renting your limo for the day. ALWAYS ask the limo service if this is the case, as some companies will pre-add a gratuity of 15-20% or more to the bill. If this is the case, it is up to the customer to decide if that amount is enough, or if you should tip extra in cash at the end of the evening. The answer boils down to personal preference, how great your driver was, and how generous you are feeling. Generally the client is not required to pay an additional tip if one has already been added to the bill.
It is natural for couples to only focus on the shiny late model limo to ride in on their wedding day, but it is just as important for the driver of that limo to be just as high quality. There are many factors to consider when trying to determine an appropriate tip, mostly based on how prepared your chauffer is on the big day. As such, there is no right or wrong answer as to exact amounts that should be given for excellent service on one of the most important and remembered days in a person’s life. For more information on average costs, fees, and tips on how to save money on renting a wedding limo click here!