Etiquette

Tipping Bartenders - Beer and Wine Reception Only

I'm having a hard time figuring out what to budget for bartender tips based on my particular situation. Here's the low-down:

-100 person wedding, 2 bartenders
-4 to 4.5 hour long reception 
-Bartenders work for our catering company, who charges $25 an hour for each. I have no idea how much of that fee goes to bartenders. Wedding is in Austin, TX.
-We're providing wine and bottled beer and will probably do a champagne toast. No cocktails in the name of keeping setup and service quick and easy.
-No tip jars.
-Probably going to rent glass wine glasses. I'm not sure if one of the bartenders is going to be doing any barback work like corralling empties and washing them throughout the night.

Thoughts on what's an appropriate amount for each?

Re: Tipping Bartenders - Beer and Wine Reception Only

  • ernursejernursej
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    mnep21 said:
    I'm having a hard time figuring out what to budget for bartender tips based on my particular situation. Here's the low-down:

    -100 person wedding, 2 bartenders
    -4 to 4.5 hour long reception 
    -Bartenders work for our catering company, who charges $25 an hour for each. I have no idea how much of that fee goes to bartenders. Wedding is in Austin, TX.
    -We're providing wine and bottled beer and will probably do a champagne toast. No cocktails in the name of keeping setup and service quick and easy.
    -No tip jars.
    -Probably going to rent glass wine glasses. I'm not sure if one of the bartenders is going to be doing any barback work like corralling empties and washing them throughout the night.

    Thoughts on what's an appropriate amount for each?

    I would probably give them $50-100 each and call it a day. If they aren't mixing and just pouring/opening ... I think that is fairly reasonable. My friend tipped $200 each but hers were mixing complicated drinks.
    InLoveInQueensahoyweddingcharlotte989875MairePoppy
  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake
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    Personally, I'd call the catering company and ask what's standard.
    ________________________________


    short+sassyPrettyGirlLost
  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska
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    ernursej said:
    mnep21 said:
    I'm having a hard time figuring out what to budget for bartender tips based on my particular situation. Here's the low-down:

    -100 person wedding, 2 bartenders
    -4 to 4.5 hour long reception 
    -Bartenders work for our catering company, who charges $25 an hour for each. I have no idea how much of that fee goes to bartenders. Wedding is in Austin, TX.
    -We're providing wine and bottled beer and will probably do a champagne toast. No cocktails in the name of keeping setup and service quick and easy.
    -No tip jars.
    -Probably going to rent glass wine glasses. I'm not sure if one of the bartenders is going to be doing any barback work like corralling empties and washing them throughout the night.

    Thoughts on what's an appropriate amount for each?

    I would probably give them $50-100 each and call it a day. If they aren't mixing and just pouring/opening ... I think that is fairly reasonable. My friend tipped $200 each but hers were mixing complicated drinks.
    Isn't this kind of high? Assuming each bartender gets the full $25 that the caterer charges, each one is making $100-$113 for the whole reception. That's a 44%-100% tip! Even if you assume they are the best bartenders in the history of bartenders, the low end is still a huge tip. 

    If it were me, I'd tip 20-30% depending on the level of service. So that would be $20-$34. 

    PrettyGirlLost
  • ernursej said:
    mnep21 said:
    I'm having a hard time figuring out what to budget for bartender tips based on my particular situation. Here's the low-down:

    -100 person wedding, 2 bartenders
    -4 to 4.5 hour long reception 
    -Bartenders work for our catering company, who charges $25 an hour for each. I have no idea how much of that fee goes to bartenders. Wedding is in Austin, TX.
    -We're providing wine and bottled beer and will probably do a champagne toast. No cocktails in the name of keeping setup and service quick and easy.
    -No tip jars.
    -Probably going to rent glass wine glasses. I'm not sure if one of the bartenders is going to be doing any barback work like corralling empties and washing them throughout the night.

    Thoughts on what's an appropriate amount for each?

    I would probably give them $50-100 each and call it a day. If they aren't mixing and just pouring/opening ... I think that is fairly reasonable. My friend tipped $200 each but hers were mixing complicated drinks.
    Isn't this kind of high? Assuming each bartender gets the full $25 that the caterer charges, each one is making $100-$113 for the whole reception. That's a 44%-100% tip! Even if you assume they are the best bartenders in the history of bartenders, the low end is still a huge tip. 

    If it were me, I'd tip 20-30% depending on the level of service. So that would be $20-$34. 
    They're likely not getting the $25/hr the caterer charges, they're probably getting, maybe $20/hr (more likely less) and the caterer keeps the difference.

    I agree with @ernursej at around $50-$100 per server. 
    MyNameIsNot
  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    member
    ernursej said:
    mnep21 said:
    I'm having a hard time figuring out what to budget for bartender tips based on my particular situation. Here's the low-down:

    -100 person wedding, 2 bartenders
    -4 to 4.5 hour long reception 
    -Bartenders work for our catering company, who charges $25 an hour for each. I have no idea how much of that fee goes to bartenders. Wedding is in Austin, TX.
    -We're providing wine and bottled beer and will probably do a champagne toast. No cocktails in the name of keeping setup and service quick and easy.
    -No tip jars.
    -Probably going to rent glass wine glasses. I'm not sure if one of the bartenders is going to be doing any barback work like corralling empties and washing them throughout the night.

    Thoughts on what's an appropriate amount for each?

    I would probably give them $50-100 each and call it a day. If they aren't mixing and just pouring/opening ... I think that is fairly reasonable. My friend tipped $200 each but hers were mixing complicated drinks.
    Isn't this kind of high? Assuming each bartender gets the full $25 that the caterer charges, each one is making $100-$113 for the whole reception. That's a 44%-100% tip! Even if you assume they are the best bartenders in the history of bartenders, the low end is still a huge tip. 

    If it were me, I'd tip 20-30% depending on the level of service. So that would be $20-$34. 
    They're likely not getting the $25/hr the caterer charges, they're probably getting, maybe $20/hr (more likely less) and the caterer keeps the difference.

    I agree with @ernursej at around $50-$100 per server. 
    But then that's an even bigger tip, percentage-wise! If they make $20 an hour, they're making $80-$90 for the night, and $50-$100 would be more than 60% up to 111%. 

    Is a wedding really that different from regular tipping? Because I've never heard of that. I'm not saying be a cheapskate and tip them nothing or flip them a fiver, but to give them a regular 20% or a little above tip, assuming you get pretty standard service and go up to 30% or more if you feel it was great.  

    PrettyGirlLost
  • I’d tip them each $100.  It’s a nice round number.

    And regarding your last bullet point, I’d definitely confirm with your catering company exactly who is barbacking/gathering and washing glasses.
    charlotte989875
  • ernursej said:
    mnep21 said:
    I'm having a hard time figuring out what to budget for bartender tips based on my particular situation. Here's the low-down:

    -100 person wedding, 2 bartenders
    -4 to 4.5 hour long reception 
    -Bartenders work for our catering company, who charges $25 an hour for each. I have no idea how much of that fee goes to bartenders. Wedding is in Austin, TX.
    -We're providing wine and bottled beer and will probably do a champagne toast. No cocktails in the name of keeping setup and service quick and easy.
    -No tip jars.
    -Probably going to rent glass wine glasses. I'm not sure if one of the bartenders is going to be doing any barback work like corralling empties and washing them throughout the night.

    Thoughts on what's an appropriate amount for each?

    I would probably give them $50-100 each and call it a day. If they aren't mixing and just pouring/opening ... I think that is fairly reasonable. My friend tipped $200 each but hers were mixing complicated drinks.
    Isn't this kind of high? Assuming each bartender gets the full $25 that the caterer charges, each one is making $100-$113 for the whole reception. That's a 44%-100% tip! Even if you assume they are the best bartenders in the history of bartenders, the low end is still a huge tip. 

    If it were me, I'd tip 20-30% depending on the level of service. So that would be $20-$34. 
    They're likely not getting the $25/hr the caterer charges, they're probably getting, maybe $20/hr (more likely less) and the caterer keeps the difference.

    I agree with @ernursej at around $50-$100 per server. 
    But then that's an even bigger tip, percentage-wise! If they make $20 an hour, they're making $80-$90 for the night, and $50-$100 would be more than 60% up to 111%. 

    Is a wedding really that different from regular tipping? Because I've never heard of that. I'm not saying be a cheapskate and tip them nothing or flip them a fiver, but to give them a regular 20% or a little above tip, assuming you get pretty standard service and go up to 30% or more if you feel it was great.  
    But standard tipping would be tipping on the total bill (say at a restaurant or a salon) so I’d say a wedding is substantively different. The percentage you would tip in any other circumstance isn’t dependent on the servers base pay. 

    Even though it’s beer and wine only, it’s two people serving 100 guests. During cocktail hour, before and after dinner this might mean serving close to the whole guest list quickly. This is a lot of work. I’d be sure to tip accordingly. 
    eileenrobInLoveInQueens
  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    member
    ernursej said:
    mnep21 said:
    I'm having a hard time figuring out what to budget for bartender tips based on my particular situation. Here's the low-down:

    -100 person wedding, 2 bartenders
    -4 to 4.5 hour long reception 
    -Bartenders work for our catering company, who charges $25 an hour for each. I have no idea how much of that fee goes to bartenders. Wedding is in Austin, TX.
    -We're providing wine and bottled beer and will probably do a champagne toast. No cocktails in the name of keeping setup and service quick and easy.
    -No tip jars.
    -Probably going to rent glass wine glasses. I'm not sure if one of the bartenders is going to be doing any barback work like corralling empties and washing them throughout the night.

    Thoughts on what's an appropriate amount for each?

    I would probably give them $50-100 each and call it a day. If they aren't mixing and just pouring/opening ... I think that is fairly reasonable. My friend tipped $200 each but hers were mixing complicated drinks.
    Isn't this kind of high? Assuming each bartender gets the full $25 that the caterer charges, each one is making $100-$113 for the whole reception. That's a 44%-100% tip! Even if you assume they are the best bartenders in the history of bartenders, the low end is still a huge tip. 

    If it were me, I'd tip 20-30% depending on the level of service. So that would be $20-$34. 
    They're likely not getting the $25/hr the caterer charges, they're probably getting, maybe $20/hr (more likely less) and the caterer keeps the difference.

    I agree with @ernursej at around $50-$100 per server. 
    But then that's an even bigger tip, percentage-wise! If they make $20 an hour, they're making $80-$90 for the night, and $50-$100 would be more than 60% up to 111%. 

    Is a wedding really that different from regular tipping? Because I've never heard of that. I'm not saying be a cheapskate and tip them nothing or flip them a fiver, but to give them a regular 20% or a little above tip, assuming you get pretty standard service and go up to 30% or more if you feel it was great.  
    But standard tipping would be tipping on the total bill (say at a restaurant or a salon) so I’d say a wedding is substantively different. The percentage you would tip in any other circumstance isn’t dependent on the servers base pay. 

    Even though it’s beer and wine only, it’s two people serving 100 guests. During cocktail hour, before and after dinner this might mean serving close to the whole guest list quickly. This is a lot of work. I’d be sure to tip accordingly. 

    This is exactly what I was thinking. I don't tip based on what an employee makes, I tip based on the total bill.

    Generally when I'm out, I tip about a dollar a drink. That might be high and can add up quickly but if every guest has one drink, that's $50 bucks a bartender right there.

    I'd give them $100 each, personally, since there's really no way to determine how many drinks they'll actually serve or what the bill would have been.

    Ah, I had not thought of it that way. If you're tipping based on that, that dollar amount makes sense. It still seems high to me, though, because tipping is supposed to make up the difference between the wage and minimum wage, and they are being paid well above that. 

    short+sassy
  • Ro041Ro041
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    I would find out ASAP how clean-up is going to go with the glassware.  Are they going to run out at some point and then just stare at each other and not do anything about it?  If one bartender is corralling glassware and washing it all night, you run the risk of your guests standing around in line waiting for the one bartender to serve drinks, even with beer and wine only (I know bc I have been a person standing in a line like that before and it sucks).  

    I agree $50-$100 each and I would check to make sure any pre-paid tips don't go to them.

    MairePoppy
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut
    Moderator Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
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    edited June 11
    At a bar, the tip for a simple pour would probably be $1 ea at a not super fancy venu, right? Let's say half the guests have 4 drinks each, that's 50 X $4 = $200 split between the 2 bartenders. 

                
    ShesSoColdInLoveInQueensernursej
  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana
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    For DD's wedding, we tipped the bartenders and waiters based on the total catering bill just like at a restaurant. We gave the coordinator a lump sum to be distributed amongst the waitstaff.
    MairePoppyPrettyGirlLostMesmrEwe
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut
    Moderator Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
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    For DD's wedding, we tipped the bartenders and waiters based on the total catering bill just like at a restaurant. We gave the coordinator a lump sum to be distributed amongst the waitstaff.
    Good point. Find out if the caterer will be splitting tips with the bartenders. 
                
    ernursej
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair
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    For DD's wedding, we tipped the bartenders and waiters based on the total catering bill just like at a restaurant. We gave the coordinator a lump sum to be distributed amongst the waitstaff.
    This.  We tipped 20%- 30%, I can't recall exactly now, based on the total of our catering bill.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe
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    The $50-100 seems extremely low to me based on all standard measures and having worked a "Tip job" (Tip money is how I paid for DH's Wedding Ring)..  It's sort of the feast/famine that is that type of work.  

    If you serve 100 guests 4 drinks in the span of the evening at $1/drink (think about how much you tip a regular bartender even if you're "just" getting a glass of water), that's $400 to split between the two bartenders.  Also, I'm presuming they're also serving up the Non-alcoholic drinks as well unless your venue is one that just has fountains set up or you're having coolers.  Yes, it may seem like a lot in a small amount of time, however they're not paid a higher wage the rest of the week or "Union Pay" depending on the catering company,, and by not allowing a tip jar from your guests, you're fully responsible for that.  Also, if you base it off of a percentage of that portion of the event, that's another option.  I also recommend you ask how things work with the company you're going through as some the "Service fee" is just that and NOT a tip for ANY of the staff.  Service fees have always bothered me in the respect of that should be included in the cost of the meal as tipping is its own entity where 20% is the "norm" for large groups.
    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
    charlotte989875InLoveInQueensahoyweddingMairePoppy
  • ernursejernursej
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    MesmrEwe said:
    The $50-100 seems extremely low to me based on all standard measures and having worked a "Tip job" (Tip money is how I paid for DH's Wedding Ring)..  It's sort of the feast/famine that is that type of work.  

    If you serve 100 guests 4 drinks in the span of the evening at $1/drink (think about how much you tip a regular bartender even if you're "just" getting a glass of water), that's $400 to split between the two bartenders.  Also, I'm presuming they're also serving up the Non-alcoholic drinks as well unless your venue is one that just has fountains set up or you're having coolers.  Yes, it may seem like a lot in a small amount of time, however they're not paid a higher wage the rest of the week or "Union Pay" depending on the catering company,, and by not allowing a tip jar from your guests, you're fully responsible for that.  Also, if you base it off of a percentage of that portion of the event, that's another option.  I also recommend you ask how things work with the company you're going through as some the "Service fee" is just that and NOT a tip for ANY of the staff.  Service fees have always bothered me in the respect of that should be included in the cost of the meal as tipping is its own entity where 20% is the "norm" for large groups.


    That is fair. My $50-100 was based on only serving alcoholic drinks (which is perhaps 2-3/guest). My friend's wedding where I was basing my estimate on, they had water jugs on tables and large displays where you could grab any number of bottled/canned non-alcohol drinks. So the bartenders were only doing alcohol. She tipped more because they were mixing anything under the sun. I assumed that if they were just pouring wine and opening beer, it could be less.

    I was glad that for my wedding, we just tipped on the total bill and they distributed. We talked with them ahead of time and that is what they preferred. We were also doing it out of a restaurant where they were used to ensuring the tips were distributed fairly. I think we tipped close to 40% but we loved our venue and the staff.

    charlotte989875short+sassyMesmrEwe
  • We were not supposed to tip - the hotel actually did not allow the bartenders to put out tip jars as the gratuities were already included in the total cost.

    H found some of the staff and slipped them some cash...I have no clue how much I assume an additional 2-5% of the total bill.

    As PP said, I would find out how the tips are being distributed amongst the staff and go from there. 
    MesmrEwe
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