Wedding Etiquette Forum

Tipping at an open bar?

I was at a wedding recently where there was a full, deluxe, open-bar hosted by the bride and groom.  However, there were tip glasses on the bars. 

I want to check with my venue prior to our wedding reception to make sure that our bartenders won't have tip jars - it makes me uncomfortable to have my guests feel like they have to open their wallets and I think it is unnecessary since I am already paying the bartenders' gratuities along with the venue/catering/bar fees.

What are your thoughts?
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Re: Tipping at an open bar?

  • your thinking is correct
    host should cover tipping
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  • Yup, the host tips.
  •  Just a heads up, even if there is no tip jar, people still like to give tips sometimes. 
    Some places have gratuity included and others don't, but either way, that money gets divided up to the entire staff.  Personally, I like to give an extra dollar or two to the bar staff.
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  • Rude and tacky.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_tipping-open-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:172e5a6f-f3ff-4fdc-977d-e61cd2fd54eaPost:9c7c651b-0dda-45fc-a133-a6f3aef6cdc2">Re: Tipping at an open bar?</a>:
    [QUOTE]Rude and tacky.
    Posted by MissySue20[/QUOTE]

    <div>*eyeroll*</div><div>
    </div><div>OP: Normally the host covers tips, but I do know some people that have liked to tip at weddings. (I have before.)</div>
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  • I tip at weddings if the service is good.  I had one bartender who would start making my drink when he saw me walk towards the bar.  So I gave him a tip.  And I told him to put it straight in his pocket.  (there were 3 bars set up and i didn't want him sharing... the grats that the host will pay will be on top of the bill, so it would just get split evenly between the 3 different bartenders)

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  • My venue leaves us no choice...  We provide the alcohol, but they provide the bartenders (and security, and mixers, soda, etc...) and when I asked if we (the bride and groom) could just cover the tip ourselves, they said no - the catering company (who provides the bartenders) insist on having tip jars out.  However, they do not include a built in gratuity to their bill to us, so it's not as though they are trying to double dip.
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  • I think it's fine if guests want to give an extra dollar or two to the bartender for stronger drinks or faster service, but I don't think a tip jar should be left out since the host should cover the tip.
  • Our bartending company said they normally leave a tip jar out unless we specifically ask them not to. So we told them not to, that we'd be covering the tips.
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    We refused to allow the bartenders have a tip jar out.  We were the hosts and we covered the tip (we are in the industry so we overtip).  

    That however did not stop our friends slipping a tip to them. Which was fine with us.   DH normally tips the bartender at weddings, it normally ensures his drink is made as he is walking up to the bar.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_tipping-open-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:172e5a6f-f3ff-4fdc-977d-e61cd2fd54eaPost:5ee6cf88-2391-4fe8-85ef-9ffe34605c38">Re: Tipping at an open bar?</a>:
    [QUOTE]My venue leaves us no choice...  We provide the alcohol, but they provide the bartenders (and security, and mixers, soda, etc...) and when I asked if we (the bride and groom) could just cover the tip ourselves, they said no - the catering company (who provides the bartenders) insist on having tip jars out.  However, they do not include a built in gratuity to their bill to us, so it's not as though they are trying to double dip.
    Posted by Girlie1030[/QUOTE]


    This is kind of strange. I can't imagine the bartenders would make more that way, but maybe they just want to ensure cash payment so they don't have to report it as income.

    OP, I would cover the tip if at all possible and request tip jars to be put away if they allow it. People will probably still tip, but shouldn't feel obligated.
  • I tip for good service regardless. Although, I did go to a wedding recently with a tip jar and I was a little put off. I wasn't sure if I was expected to tip or if it was covered. 
  • I've always wondered what the etiquette of this is! Good points all around, but if the service is really good, I don't mind the bartender getting a few extra bucks. Even if they leave a tip jar out, as long as it doesn't actually have a sign on it that says "tips" it's not like guests are forced to tip. I don't see that to be a big deal. I think it's more ridiculous that there are tip jars EVERYWHERE nowadays. Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Panera - I don't think those should be there. They don't usually do anything special for you.
  • I agree with you. Whoever pays should also tip, and if it's an open bar, the people hosting are responsible for the tip. I wouldn't think the hosts are tacky though - it could have just been the venue. If I had seen a tip jar at my wedding, I would have asked them to take it down, but it's possible they didn't notice.

    At my own wedding, I tried to make it to the bar once, got stopped by some friends, and then a server came over and took my drink order. But our bar was a traditional "bar" so I would be surprised if there was a tip jar, but also surprised if no one gave them money. Actually, one of our GMs said he was tipping them for his free drinks all night. Oh well. I feel weird not tipping at an open bar, but seriously, I assume it's not my responsibility.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_tipping-open-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:172e5a6f-f3ff-4fdc-977d-e61cd2fd54eaPost:7466c902-9deb-4c8e-8da1-d1dd6b2e5e16">Re: Tipping at an open bar?</a>:
    [QUOTE]I've always wondered what the etiquette of this is! Good points all around, but if the service is really good, I don't mind the bartender getting a few extra bucks. Even if they leave a tip jar out, as long as it doesn't actually have a sign on it that says "tips" it's not like guests are forced to tip. I don't see that to be a big deal. I think it's more ridiculous that there are tip jars EVERYWHERE nowadays. Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Panera - I don't think those should be there. They don't usually do anything special for you.
    Posted by jerseydevil[/QUOTE]

    Speaking as a former barista, I do leave a $1 tip at Starbucks and other coffee places. Making a latte is somewhere between working as a real server/bartender and just grabbing my donut. Subway? Not so much.
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  • Our bartender had a tip jar, and I didn't mind. I mean if you have a high-end venue where the tip included is a significant amount, then that's your call. Ours was at a fire hall, our overall cost for the liquor (beer, wine & soda) included tip but was still really low (not even $9/person). I have worked in food and bar service, so I like to tip well as I know a lot of people don't. And I had a hard time believing the bartender was getting a big cut for a tip. So we didn't mind the tip jar and between what we already gave them plus adding a good amount to the tip jar, we were satisfied. Others tipped, some probably didn't, but we didn't mind them having one. These people were great to us.
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  • As someone who works at a Golf Course, and have worked many wedding receptions, We do keep a tip jar out.  Unfortunately, I thnkt hat our situation is a bit different, because although we do add a 20% gratuity onto the bill, our service staff only gets 4.5% of that.  The Food and Beverage Manager (me) gets 1.5%, and the rest of it actually goes to the golf course.  We keep a tip jar out, not to ask people for their money, but to allow people to tip if they believe they are getting good service.  We keep the jar off to the side so it is not in anyones face, but it is nice for our girls when they can take a cash tip home with them. 

    Most places, if you ask if they'll take down the tip jar, more than likely they will be willing, but don't assume that the staff will be taken care of, because that isn't always the case.  As the host of the reception, you aren't expected to leave extra, but if you believe that they did a good job, I'll tell you from experience that it is greatly appreciated.
    Anniversary
  • We clarified ahead of time that there would be no tip jar out. My dad felt strongly enough about that that it was one of the initial questions he asked at each site. FWIW, he always tips at a wedding bar, generously, at the beginning of the night. But he didn't want a tip jar out because of the *expectation* of tips that it implies. DH also always tips at a wedding bar. I don't.
  • If I see a tip jar I will ask them to take it down but I'm not bothered if people tip.  I always do.
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  • Also being in the industry, I am a huge tipper and don't mind tipping at a wedding.  We went to one where they didn't have change for a $20 (open bar so no cash on hand) so we handed it to the bartender and went back to him every time.  He was very awesome as we had hoped.

    I dont mind the tip jars at our reception but if they aren't there, people will leave money anyway. 

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  • It's not about people tipping anyway. It's just that a tip jar implies that the host isn't tipping the service staff properly, and that's part of hosting duties.

    It's not like I cared if my friends and family tipped the bartenders-- they were great, and we definitely added cash on top of the 20% gratuity the venue charged since we weren't sure how much the bartenders and servers actually got out of that. It's not like I begrudge the service staff the money (some of the pro-tip jar posts seemed to imply that, to me); it's that I don't want the service staff basically telling my guests I'm not properly compensating them for their services, and thus, am a bad host.
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  • I worked at a catering company that did mostly weddings a few years ago and honestly we were only tipped by the host once. There was a basket that we had for tips, but it was on a shelf under the bar. I personally don't see the problem with a tip jar, I mean you don't feel like you "have" tp tip the barista at Starbucks with the tip jar right? If someone gives you good service you should tip them. Also, the catering company may have a gratuity charge, but that gratuity may never end up in the server's hands.
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Ick!  I hate tip jars at weddings.  It communicates that the responsibility to tip is on the guest, and not on the host where it should be.  Yeah, I'd give the person the benefit of the doubt and assume that they just weren't attentive enough to notice it, but still, it annoys me.  

    Personally, I pretty much always tip, even if I'm a guest at a wedding.  But as a guest, I'd rather hand the bartender a couple of extra dollars for doing a great job than drop some cash in a jar because it's there or because I think I'm supposed to.

    Coming from the industry, we were never allowed to have tip jars out during hosted events.  There was always a few bucks here and there if you did a good job, but you never put a jar out there like that if the host was paying the tip.  
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_tipping-open-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:172e5a6f-f3ff-4fdc-977d-e61cd2fd54eaPost:bff22451-1313-446d-870d-75d1bf8caafa">Re: Tipping at an open bar?</a>:
    [QUOTE] Just a heads up, even if there is no tip jar, people still like to give tips sometimes.  Some places have gratuity included and others don't, but either way, that money gets divided up to the entire staff.  Personally, I like to give an extra dollar or two to the bar staff.
    Posted by TatiMarie[/QUOTE]

    Agreed.

    I had explicity requested that no tip jars be on the bar at the wedding and by the end of the night there were two.  Apparently some guests took it upon themselves to "make" a tip jar even though we were already covering gratuity
  • I often tip even if it's an open bar. Bartenders tend to remember you better and give you faster and better service. 
    I don't like to see tip jars, though, and it makes me not want to leave anything.... not just at weddings, but at places like Starbucks and at bars, too. I don't need reminders and hints about when and where to tip, ya know?
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_tipping-open-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:172e5a6f-f3ff-4fdc-977d-e61cd2fd54eaPost:d3780515-082a-4b2e-897b-0639def1f4ee">Re: Tipping at an open bar?</a>:
    [QUOTE]I often tip even if it's an open bar. Bartenders tend to remember you better and give you faster and better service.  I don't like to see tip jars, though, and it makes me not want to leave anything.... not just at weddings, but at places like Starbucks and at bars, too. I don't need reminders and hints about when and where to tip, ya know?
    Posted by Simply Fated[/QUOTE]

    <div>If it's subtle, it's fine for me. At places like starbucks (and, honestly, bars) they pool the tips, then a supervisor deposits the money when it starts to get large. If it has a big sign with TIPS in marker, that's a bit much for me.</div>
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  • I think you're 100% correct Naomi.  I asked my caterer, and she told me that the bartender isn't allowed a tip jar but is instructed that if a tip is offered that he/she can accept it discreetely.

    I've worked in catering and bartended at weddings and other hosted events, and I never expected tips other than what the host provided.
  • To me...a tip jar = host has not covered the gratuity.  If you've paid the gratuity and they still put out a tip jar, it seems really rude and tacky (of the bartender, not the host) to expect a double tip.  By putting that out there shouts "give me money", which I think is lame for people in the service industry to advertise it like that.  If you're doing a good job, people know how to tip you.  Think about it, when's the last time you've been to an actual bar that had a tip jar out?  You probably haven't, you just leave your tip on the bar for them to pick up.

    If it wasn't in your contract to cover the gratuity, I think it's okay (but still kinda lame and presumptious though) because it can let people know that gratuities are appreciated (I'd rather see a sign that says that instead of a tip jar though).
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  • I can't imagine NOT tipping a bartender at a wedding. I always do and always will. I don't think having a tip jar is odd at all. I'd feel wierder about having to waste their time giving them a tip every time instead of letting them carry on their business and make another person a drink. Then again, I think this is going to be specific to where you live and what the norm is.
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