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Tipping Etiquette for Bartender and Help only?

In trying to get an accurate wedding budget, I remembered there are some people I need to tip. What I can't find is tipping for a bartender or "help only."

There's a company I'm probably going to use for catering but may only use their bartender and their "help only." I don't know what their non-alcoholic drink package costs (I haven't met with them yet for that price) but I have to supply all the alcohol and I have the option to provide the non-alcoholic drinks as well. 20% of the bartender price is only $27. Having worked in a restaurant, I don't feel comfortable tipping less than 20% BUT our reception will be around 4 hours long so $27 is only $6.75 an hour, which I feel is ridiculously low for having to serve alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. I haven't decided yet if we're going to have mixed drinks, but the soda, beer, and wine will just be open and pour so there's not extra work going into that. Any helpful hints on how I should tip the bartender?

Also, we're thinking about making the food ourself and hiring this company for Help Only (basically put the food on the buffet table and tossing the trash for us). For such minimal work, but having to be there for a few hours, should a general tip be based off of the Help Only price? If they kind of go above and beyond I would definitely tip generously but in trying to get a budget, what do you all think?

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Re: Tipping Etiquette for Bartender and Help only?

  • edited November 2010
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_tipping-etiquette-bartender-only?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:700385c2-b54b-4e2d-b4f5-1fb6635e2d10Post:c9ddbb7b-e08b-4942-9021-b4409f962dee">Re: Tipping Etiquette for Bartender and Help only?</a>:
    [QUOTE]I'd ask the person you're talking with what a normal tip is for these services. 
    Posted by squirrly[/QUOTE]

    I first inquired about catering and bartending and the response was "tip based off the quality of service you receive." I know 15-20% is standard for catering so I at least have something to start with for that. When FI brought up DIY food, I asked about the  help only, which starts at $300, and that when I book the venue they can meet me up there to talk more.

    I understand they're busy and can't use much time to respond to someone who hasn't book the venue yet, but FI and I are paying for this ourselves so I'm really trying to get a somewhat accurate overall budget so we know the minimum of how much to save each month without us going broke or in debt.
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  • I am also running into this issue... we are hiring a catering company to cater our wedding (approx. 180 ppl) at my parents house and the price for teh servers, chef, and bartenders is Staffing (chefs, servers, bartenders) 2,490. I asked about tipping and he said the servers do not exspect to be tipped as they are paid a good hourly wage but if you want to then by all means. What is this suppose to mean??? I dont want to come off cheap but i also do not want to overspend (if you know what i mean) we are already cutting corners... anyone have experience with this?
  • If you're just looking to get a rough budget together, can you just put in the maximum amount that you would tip?  If you usually tip 20%, put 20% in the budget.  If you think you might tip more, put more in the budget.  
  • I had a bartender at my FI's b-day party and they said to tip $1 per head.  I gave him $50, which worked to more than that.  He was scheduled to work for 8 hours at $25/hour. 

    Now with more wedded bliss.

    I don't get married often, but when I do, I do it in Las Vegas.


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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_tipping-etiquette-bartender-only?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:700385c2-b54b-4e2d-b4f5-1fb6635e2d10Post:06f7ff42-48ae-45c1-a99f-5c4c1f99a487">Re: Tipping Etiquette for Bartender and Help only?</a>:
    [QUOTE]I had a bartender at my FI's b-day party and they said to tip $1 per head.  I gave him $50, which worked to more than that.  He was scheduled to work for 8 hours at $25/hour. 
    Posted by smokeybailey[/QUOTE]

    I like that $1/head idea. It sounds reasonable. Thanks!!!

    As far as a PP said about no one tipping anymore, even when you go into a restaurant, larger groups usually have gratuity tacked on to their bill...which is where the service fee comes in. If you feel comfortable tipping only that designated amount, then no, don't tip more. I do believe that if the service is above and beyond what you expected, then, if budget allows, tip some on top of that 20% they've already included.
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  • Do you think we should tip the DJ?  He is the husband of a girl I work with, so I don't want to offend them, but the money I am paying goes directly to him, so I don't think I should, but I also don't want to offend anyone.
  • Well...what about the trolley driver, the make-up and hair team, the DJ, the photographer, the video guy...?  I am stressed about this!!!!!!!!!!!
  • I worked in banquets through college, so here's from my perspective.  There was a gratuity worked into their bill already, and it was added to our paychecks, I think I got anywhere from 1.00-2.00 a head depending on how involved the service was (buffet vs. sit down, # of courses).  I've worked some weddings where the FOB gave us $20 each cash, in addition towhat he was already compensating us, just trying to be a nice guy. 

    I bartended a couple of weddings--guests should tip the servers (it's kind of a trade off for having an open bar).  . There's a tip jar  and guests are VERY generous, so take that into account. It's not tacky, it's standard practice for all the weddings I've been too. Another way to save money is do a beer/wine open and cash bar for liquor (not proper in terms of etiquette and people will mumble, but it's a money saver). 

    If it's mostly mixed drinks tip higher than you would for handing out beer and wine (minimal skill involved with that). If you feel the gratuity % isn't enough, then I'd do a amt/per guest (OVER 21)  or an amount ($10/hr/ per bartender). 

  • I used to work in the catering business as a bar manager. Believe me most staff are used to not getting tipped but that does not mean they are happy about that. To say that they receive an appropriate hourly wage basically mean they don't make the standard $2.13 an hour you find at a restaurant. it can typically range from $7.00 an hour all the way up to $13.00 an hour (don't quote me... this is based on experience in a location in Indiana)
    Also I would like to point out that some companies say they will add a tip on to your bill for you. Be careful with this! the company I work for used the money you paid as a tip and applies it towards the employees paycheck (basically not making anymore than they normally would) it just eased up on the companies wallet.
    Bartenders are completely happy with just being allowed to have a tip jar set on the bar all night. have faith in your guests, bartenders can make a killing at a wedding. As for servers they are extremely happywith anything that they see, even if it is five dollars. Taking the time to hand them cash and make it personal saying, "thankyou and I really appreciate it goes a long way." anyway I hope this information helps!
  • I too worked as a special event server/bartender through college and I'd say that out of the gajillion weddings I worked over the course of three years, my fellow servers/bartenders and I got tipped on top of the service charge (which went into our paychecks) maybe twice. I should also mention that we never expected a tip from the party hosts, and when I bartended, I made incredibly good money just from cash tips from guests.
  • I used to work banquets at a country club, and no one was tipped. Even when non-members had weddings at the club there was still no tipping. Occasionally we'd receive a tip if we were cocktailing, and the bartenders would also receive the occasional buck or two tip, but nothing extravagant. Banquet workers are usually paid a generous hourly wage. If you feel like you get outstanding service from some of the servers or bartenders, by all means give them a little extra; however remember that this will be on top of an already decent hourly wage. I don't think it's necessary to include an extra percentage to be given to all workers though.
  • I used to work at a banquet hall as a bartender.  Where I worked, we got $8.00 per hour for our wage.  Some places aren't as nice with their wages, though!  Also, at the banquet hall, they included a 15% tip into the bill for the bride and groom.  This 18% was split between the bartenders (usually 3-5 bartenders).  The banquet hall had a minimum drink amount the bride and groom had to pay.  People also left cash tips at the bar and I usually made about 15-20 dollars an hour for each wedding I worked. 

    Currently, I am planning my own wedding and the banquet hall I am having my reception at makes us spend a minimum of 5,500 dollars for bar tab with an 18% gratuity included.  The gratuity included on this would be about 990 dollars to tip the bartenders and food service crew...I hope this helps!
  • My question is... We are having a caterer come into the Hall that we rented.  It is buffet style so no real servers.  Do we still have to tip?  It is $8  a person.  What do you think?  Any ideas?
  • I am a banquet server, so what that means is exactly what the person said, we get paid well, most start around $10 an hour.  But if you think their service is excellent and what to give them a little more, well we as servers always like that. But we won't be hurt if we don't get an extra tip, unlike normal servers who get around $4 an hour.

    I hope that helps you!
  • In high school I worked for a restaurant that did catering for all sorts of events in the hotel's ballroom including weddings. We were paid minimum wage $5.15/ hour and were never tipped. I don't know what kind of gratuity was included in the contract since I was not on that end of the deal as a server, but I am sure it was in there. It would have been appreciated and maybe they tipped the actual catering company and we never saw it. If you are going to tip servers I would give it directly to them.
  • I'm not sure about how prices tend to run in Texas, but I know that the going rate for any sort of catering help is $20 (including tip) per person per hour for just working, plus the price of the beverages themselves.  I know Long Island prices are usually way inflated over almost anywhere else, but this seems like a really big difference...

    And, just something to think about, while it seems like a personalized and cost-effective thing to make the food for your own wedding, is cooking really the thing that you want to be worrying about in the last day or two before your wedding?  I think you'd probably rather be relaxing, de-stressing, and getting a good night's sleep.  If you can find a reasonably-priced caterer, it might be worth buying your sanity.  But, if cooking is something that relaxes you, by all means, cook up a storm!
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