Wedding Etiquette Forum

Tipping

I am trying to figure out who needs to be tipped and how much at our venue. Our venue includes a "coordinator", who didn't really do much yet but I guess the day of she will be the one to coordinate things (or at least I hope she does). She is in charge of getting the room ready, and we met with her twice. We also were required to get the food from the venue, so our total bill included: ceremony location fee, reception room fee, food, and bar. It was all charged a "service fee" of 21%. 

So with that in mind, what who would I still need to tip? I asked if servers were tipped (it's a plated meal) and she said no, but the bartender is. Is it just me or is that really weird? Does that mean it's not expected to tip the servers? (Just an FYI I like in CA so servers are paid AT LEAST minimum wage) If I should still tip them, what percentage would be appropriate? I'm used to tipping around 20% at restaurants but that is when they take my order, bring my drinks, etc. The escort cards have the meal selections and people will go to the bar for drinks so all the servers do is serve the food and clear the tables correct? Am I rude to think that doesn't need a full 20%?

Also, do I need to tip the coordinator or would that be included in the 21% service charge? Should I ask? I feel like asking about her tip would be weird... But since she is included I would have no idea where to start with a tip for her.

Thank you for your help!

Re: Tipping

  • I'm a little curious about this question too so I tried to search the Ask Carly section of TK but the page wouldn't load... It's out there though so you may want to check it out. Let me just preface this by saying that I'm a little uncertain on this topic also but here's what I got:

    I would ask your venue if the "service fee" includes or is meant to include gratuity. Our venue is covering the same things yours is (ceremony, reception, food & drinks) and they charge 18% gratuity on all food & drink eliminating a need to tip staff. Of course, they called it "gratuity" in the contract...

    As for the coordinator, I would get a sense of what all she is doing for the event first - just send her an email asking for the specifics of what "event coordination" (or however it is worded in the contract) means. Then you can decide if it is worthy of a tip and how much. The "coordination" in my contract is pretty limited; she will liase with the other vendors during the reception but not before and try to keep the reception timeline on track but that's it. We will base our tip on how well everything flows and give it to her after the fact.

    I believe I read on TK that you tip any vendors that are employees of a business and not the business owner but hopefully some of the knotties here can clarify that. Remember too, that a tip is based on how well the service is performed.

    Hope this helps.. :)

  • lizap77lizap77 member
    10 Comments First Anniversary

    Her wording for the service fee was that it was to "ensure that you have servers and staff for your event, however they do not personally get any tips. The bartender however does, 18-20% of the total bar bill". To me that makes it sound like the service fee is actually paying the wages for the servers, am I right? If they include a gratuity to the bartender but not the servers I am just curious whether or not it is expected for the servers to be tipped separately. Why would they tip one and not the other?

    My coordinator is very similar to yours. She will greet vendors when they come the day of, she organizes having the room set up (right color linens, centerpieces set up, set out guest book, etc.), and keeps the reception timeline. I just don't even know where to start with that. What would be a "you did an amazing job" tip versus "well, we made it through the day" tip.

  • lizap77 said:

    Her wording for the service fee was that it was to "ensure that you have servers and staff for your event, however they do not personally get any tips. The bartender however does, 18-20% of the total bar bill". To me that makes it sound like the service fee is actually paying the wages for the servers, am I right? If they include a gratuity to the bartender but not the servers I am just curious whether or not it is expected for the servers to be tipped separately. Why would they tip one and not the other?

    My coordinator is very similar to yours. She will greet vendors when they come the day of, she organizes having the room set up (right color linens, centerpieces set up, set out guest book, etc.), and keeps the reception timeline. I just don't even know where to start with that. What would be a "you did an amazing job" tip versus "well, we made it through the day" tip.

    It seems like the service fee is to pay the wages of the waitstaff and the wages & tips for the bartender. I'd give a tip to the waitstaff because they aren't receiving any tips. To be a certified bartender you need to have some sort of training, and I'm inclined to think that they require hire only bartenders who have training, hence the tip? I really don't know for certain.

    For the venue DOC, how much does a DOC cost a la carte in your area? I'd find out an average and then do a percentage of that to calculate her tip, if you feel she was worth it.
     Daisypath Anniversary tickers
  • At my wedding tips for the staff were included in our per person rate but the bartenders did have a tip glass out which many people contributed to. We didn't have a coordinator, the manger of the venue took care of coordinating the set up of everything for us and the timing of everything (our venue provided linens, cake and centerpieces so only extra vendor was dj).

     

  • I know TK says that you shouldn't (or don't have to) tip business owners, but I disagree.

    My DJ and ceremony musicians are the business owners and I am tipping them. I do, however have a range that I'm planning on tipping them (and its less than the 20% "service charge"). I look at it this way: how much influence do they have over my day? If the DJ is awesome and really contributes to an awesome reception, why wouldn't I tip him to let him know?

    My venue also has a coordinator, who I will likely buy a thank-you gift for (in lieu of a tip). Same with my DOC. I'm thinking gift cards along with a thank-you card for both of them.

  • lizap77lizap77 member
    10 Comments First Anniversary

    I'm definitely tipping my DJ, Florist, and Cake baker all around 20%. All of them own their business but I know they still deserve a tip. My bigger problem is deciding the tip for the DOC because I don't know what her service would normally have cost, and figuring out how much to tip the servers. I don't know why but I'm having such a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that ON TOP of the 21% service fee I ALSO need a 20% tip, and they're doing way less work than they would as a waiter or waitress in a restaurant.

    That means I would be spending more on just the gratuity for the waiters than I did on pretty much anything else. The entire cake including tip would be less, the flowers with tip would be less, the DJ with tip would be less. And I feel like the waiters would be doing much less work than any one of those vendors.

  • lizap77lizap77 member
    10 Comments First Anniversary

    I'm definitely tipping my DJ, Florist, and Cake baker all around 20%. All of them own their business but I know they still deserve a tip. My bigger problem is deciding the tip for the DOC because I don't know what her service would normally have cost, and figuring out how much to tip the servers. I don't know why but I'm having such a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that ON TOP of the 21% service fee I ALSO need a 20% tip, and they're doing way less work than they would as a waiter or waitress in a restaurant.

    That means I would be spending more on just the gratuity for the waiters than I did on pretty much anything else. The entire cake including tip would be less, the flowers with tip would be less, the DJ with tip would be less. And I feel like the waiters would be doing much less work than any one of those vendors.

    1. The idea that working an event is "way less work" than waiting tables on a restaurant is utter crap. 2. Again, it doesn't have to be 20 percent. Look at how it's going to divide up. If you pay 3000 for food and have 5 servers, a 10 or 15 percent tip will be plenty. On the other hand, if you spend 1000 on food and have 5 servers, a 20 percent tip is going to be less per person. 3. Yes, labor, including gratuity tends to be a big part of the budget. If you cannot afford or do not want to properly pay your staff for exceptional service, don't plan an event with staff.

    1. I guess I've never done it so you're right. It may be just as hard to serve at a wedding as it is to wait on a table at a restaurant. Let me explain my thought process, because I'm not a total B as I feel it may look. I just thought that at a stit down restaurant they come to my table, give me a menu, let me choose my food, take my order, bring me drinks, and come to my table several times. At a wedding I expect them just to bring my pre-ordered food that is labeled at my place setting, and clear the plates. I thought of it as one step above a buffet restaurant. At a buffet they bring you a drink and clear your plates, but I don't typically tip 20% at a buffet because I do the "going to get my food". This was my logic, I did not mean to offend servers at weddings.

    2. I have no idea how many servers there will be. I was hoping to have the tip envelopes ready so that it was one less thing for me to do once the reception started. I wanted to avoid having extra cash with me, not even planning on having a purse or wallet or anything. I will call the venue and see if this is something I can find out ahead of time.

    3. This is a very good point. Although as I explained when I signed my contract I paid a 21% service fee, so I had no idea until recently that tips would not be included. I assumed (wrongly, my bad I know) that a service fee meant gratuity. I am capable and prepared if that is what is expected. It's not the fact that I can't afford what I chose. It is that I was kinda baffled by the whole deception of the service fee, because I really do feel deceived. My goal in this post was to get several opinions on what the expectations were.

    Thank you for your feedback, it gave me another perspective.

  • a wedding as it is to wait on a table at a restaurant. Let me explain my thought process, because I'm not a total B as I feel it may look. I just thought that at a stit down restaurant they come to my table, give me a menu, let me choose my food, take my order, bring me drinks, and come to my table several times. At a wedding I expect them just to bring my pre-ordered food that is labeled at my place setting, and clear the plates. I thought of it as one step above a buffet restaurant. At a buffet they bring you a drink and clear your plates, but I don't typically tip 20% at a buffet because I do the "going to get my food". This was my logic, I did not mean to offend servers at weddings.

    2. I have no idea how many servers there will be. I was hoping to have the tip envelopes ready so that it was one less thing for me to do once the reception started. I wanted to avoid having extra cash with me, not even planning on having a purse or wallet or anything. I will call the venue and see if this is something I can find out ahead of time.

    3. This is a very good point. Although as I explained when I signed my contract I paid a 21% service fee, so I had no idea until recently that tips would not be included. I assumed (wrongly, my bad I know) that a service fee meant gratuity. I am capable and prepared if that is what is expected. It's not the fact that I can't afford what I chose. It is that I was kinda baffled by the whole deception of the service fee, because I really do feel deceived. My goal in this post was to get several opinions on what the expectations were.

    Thank you for your feedback, it gave me another perspective.

    As a former banquet server, the "pre-selected" meals are basically never right; we almost always take orders at the table anyway. We may have a reference (i.e., six chickens, two beefs and a fish at table 2), but unless you've assigned specific seats, not just tables, we still take orders so we know what dinner is going where. People also very often change their minds once they get there or have totally forgotten what they put on the card 8 weeks ago. Just like restaurant staff, we're expected to to do table touches - we will check that your food came out okay, fix any problems, and (generally speaking) will bring drinks while you're eating even if it is an open bar concept. We do, of course, clear plates and glasses all night and keep tables neat (refolding napkins and straightening any dishware still on the table when you get up to dance or mingle). The waitstaff is also responsible for all set up and breakdown of tables and chairs (and whoah nelly, does stacking 150 chairs at 1am suck when you got to work at 3), setting the tables, putting out your favors before you arrive, readying the hall in general (it's us who will put out centerpieces/candles/decorations that people drop off at the hall in advance) and sweeping/cleaning after the tables and chairs are broken down. Where I worked we were also expected to dry all the glassware and silverware to help the dishwashers. Having done both kinds of working, It's a different kind of labor than a la carte waitressing, because you're focused on one set of tables all night and all working together rather than having constant change-over of tables, but not less work.

    I completely feel you on the "service fee" thing. It is unfair and deceptive of reception halls not to fully explain what that is for - and the servers agree with you. Most of the time, halls don't explain it, people assume and we didn't get a tip.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    140 invited -- 118 are ready to party! -- 27 can't make it

  • I completely feel you on the "service fee" thing. It is unfair and deceptive of reception halls not to fully explain what that is for - and the servers agree with you. Most of the time, halls don't explain it, people assume and we didn't get a tip.

    This is the part that drives me crazy.  When I go to a restaurant there isn't a "service fee" for them to pay basic wages to their staff, it's included in the menu price, and with the fee being equivalent to a good tip I would think most people assume that's what it is.  I know the waitstaff does more than just serve the tables as stardust describes, but I think it's dishonest not to put the charge on contracts as set up and tear down costs.

    Also, I get that the waitstaff does a lot of pre and post work and that there are a decent number of them, but the service charge on the bar doesn't sit right with me. I mean are they really paying that bartender $525-1175? (assuming 21% of an open bar cost with 50-100 guests per bartender, typically 35-50pp in my area, so $7-10pp, plus a flat bartender fee of $175).
  • lizap77lizap77 member
    10 Comments First Anniversary

    Stardust, I really appreciate your explanation. As I said I never really thought about it, but the way you put it really makes sense.

    Annathy- I think the 21% charge should totally be called something along those lines. I would totally have understood the "setup/tear down" charges and would still have expected to add gratuity in addition.

     

  • Glad I could help, Liza. :)

    Also, I just realized you asked - the general rule of thumb is usually one server for every two tables, but it'd be a good idea to double check with your venue.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    140 invited -- 118 are ready to party! -- 27 can't make it

  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    lizap77 said:

    Stardust, I really appreciate your explanation. As I said I never really thought about it, but the way you put it really makes sense.

    Annathy- I think the 21% charge should totally be called something along those lines. I would totally have understood the "setup/tear down" charges and would still have expected to add gratuity in addition.

     

    Mentally people think if setup/tear charges as fluff.   They will and do try and negotiate those charges off a bill.  I don't know anyone who fights service charges?  I mean who wants to be the one to shaft the staff out of pay?  Mentally it's not something people try and negotiate. 






    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. 
  • @Stage, dishonest probably wasn't the right word, more misleading, I don't think they are intentionally trying to trick people. But it absolutely leads to shafted servers when folks don't understand what it's specifically for. And I'm still confused on the bar part since drinks often cost as much as the food and have far less set up work and staff. Not complaining, I just wish I understood everything that goes into it.

    @lynda, I can see your point, I just don't think of it that way personally. I mean to me of course it takes people time to set up and clean everything and all that, and of course those people need paid to do it.
  • @Stage, exactly.  I agree with those reasons, but at 500-1000 per bartender in charges I would like to think that includes one awesome wage.  I would suspect licensing and certifications for them shouldn't cost more than a grand a year, which works out to a pretty nominal per-wedding number.  I fully agree it's more competitive and deserves the high wage, but I'd like to know if they're getting it or if the venue is keeping the majority of that charge.  Basically I like to think that a service charge goes mostly to the people doing the serving as a good wage, and I worry it doesn't.
  • I'm still getting proposals from places, we haven't finalized a venue yet, so some include gratuity and some don't, some places include service charge for the first $X, then add on after that, some places are 20, some places are 23, etc, so I was trying to better understand what that fee covers since it seems to vary so widely.  Thanks for taking the time to provide so much explanation, it definitely helped.
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I think it's funny to think a bartender has less setup than the waitstaff.  Who do you think carries the bottles to the area and sets up the bar? Gets the ice?  Cuts up the fruit? Polishes the stacks the glasses? (dishwasher always leave spots and you have  polish every singe glass by hand.) Chills the beer and wine?   

     A lot of banquet bars are not pre-set like a restaurant bar.  They are generally portable.  All the alcohol is generally stored in locked bins somewhere else.  The bartender has to order what they need, then grab it from where ever.   Move the bar to the location on the banquet event order.  Setup it up, get all the supplies.  






    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. 
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    lyndausvi said:
    I think it's funny to think a bartender has less setup than the waitstaff.  Who do you think carries the bottles to the area and sets up the bar? Gets the ice?  Cuts up the fruit? Polishes the stacks the glasses? (dishwasher always leave spots and you have  polish every singe glass by hand.) Chills the beer and wine?   

     A lot of banquet bars are not pre-set like a restaurant bar.  They are generally portable.  All the alcohol is generally stored in locked bins somewhere else.  The bartender has to order what they need, then grab it from where ever.   Move the bar to the location on the banquet event order.  Setup it up, get all the supplies.  
    Cutting lemon wedges sucks.  
    IDK, polishing hundreds of glasses by hand is pretty much sucks also.  But I agree, cutting lemons or limes is no fun.






    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. 

  • I have a spin-off - my situation is I am paying a certain amount per person (let's say $50), which includes open bar, buffet, DJ, DOC, some decorations and a cake allowance.   We don't have any additional charges - no surcharges, taxes, etc.  Everything is included in the per person rate.  I feel like this makes it difficult though bc you can't calculate 10-20% of just the bar tab, food or whatever.   

    My plan is to check with the venue first to make sure tips are not already included, though I'm pretty certain they are not.  Upon confirmation that tips are not included, I plan to take 20% of the entire bill - about $900 - and divide it among the servers, bartenders and DJ.  Is this how you ladies would do it?  Please correct me if there is another system for per person charges.  Thanks!



This discussion has been closed.
Choose Another Board
Search Boards