Gratuity for judges?
May 7, 2005 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Did you get married at the courthouse? Did you provide the judge with a gratuity?

In my locality, there's only a $25 fee required for in-chambers weddings performed by judges. Out-of-chambers weddings require fees of up to $100. We're getting married in-chambers and I wonder what a reasonable gratuity would be? And when should it be offered to the judge? Cash or check? Any advide appreciated!
posted by peep to Human Relations (16 answers total)
My wife & I got married in a judge's chambers in Santa Fe. It was around Christmastime, and the judge gave us some cookies that somebody had brought. Of course, being young and naive, we didn't tip him. I realized [years] later that maybe we should have. OTOH, there's something unseemly about giving money to a judge (unless you're a Republican). If I was to do it again, I'd probably bring cookies or cake or something -- judges are just like managers: they have an office staff to keep happy, and passing out some treats definitely helps. Of course, the fact that I haven't had to (and don't plan to) get married again is probably better for everybody in the long run. I should dig up the guy's name and send him a Christmas card to say "hey, you probably don't remember us, but we're still together."
posted by spacewrench at 1:45 PM on May 7, 2005

It would never occur to me to tip a US judge for performing a judicial service in his judicial office.
posted by Nelson at 1:48 PM on May 7, 2005

I've been married twice in a church, once in a Nevada chapel, and once by a judge. We tipped the ministers and not the judge (the chapel guy just signed a license and didn't do a ceremony so he got bupkis) but we did give the judge's office the flowers and brought by a cake later. It seems more unseemly to give money than a token of appreciation, especially since there's not a lot of planning etc to the judge's chambers-type ceremony.

I should send out cards to all of them saying "Nice try, it wasn't your fault".
posted by DeepFriedTwinkies at 2:11 PM on May 7, 2005

Oops, I forgot to add congratulations to both of you and hope that your lives blend nicely for years and decades to come.
posted by DeepFriedTwinkies at 2:12 PM on May 7, 2005

Tipping a judge just seems unseemly, and depending on the jurisdiction there may be prohibitions on such a thing. I just checked the Connecticut rules of judicial conduct and while nominal gifts, loans, bequests, etc. are allowed, the giver must be someone over whom the judge's court is unlikely to assert jurisdiction. I wouldn't do it - or at least ask the clerk or administrative staff before you do.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 2:17 PM on May 7, 2005

I called ahead to talk to his office about the procedure of having the judge perform the ceremony and the person that I talked to suggested that I tip the man $20. We went in a week or so later, the judge performed the ceremony, we walked out without tipping, and nothing was said to us. I had forgotten to tip, carried away in the moment and all. I remembered half way out the court house and went back to give the tip.
posted by busboy789 at 4:06 PM on May 7, 2005

We were married with about 20 other couples 'in chambers'. Nobody tipped the judge cuz he didn't stick around. Btw, this occurred on December 13th, a Friday. heheh
posted by mischief at 4:08 PM on May 7, 2005

Tip a judge? That strikes me as very very wrong.
posted by orthogonality at 4:20 PM on May 7, 2005

I wouldn't tip a judge.

There are strict rules about government employees receiving gifts of any kind. Flowers and treats might be ok, but money is a no-no. If you gave money, I doubt he or she could legally accept it.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! Best of luck to you both.
posted by luneray at 4:54 PM on May 7, 2005

I can't see it as being a huge issue, but I would avoid giving a monetary tip just in case. Bribery accusations could rather put a damper on your wedding day, and I'm pretty sure the judge either wouldn't accept it, or would have to turn it in anyway.

Slate seems to think judges can't accept gifts of any sort, but I doubt a small non-monetary gift would be an issue.

Flower, treats or a small gift basket strike me as appropriate options.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 5:14 PM on May 7, 2005

Reading the Slate article more closely, they too agree that small gifts probably wouldn't be a problem.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 5:17 PM on May 7, 2005

In Utah, the judge can charge a fee. That, or a gratuity, is illegal in Illinois. A Cape Cod justice of the peace says that a survey found that the average gratuity is between $50 and $75.

Your mileage may vary.
posted by WestCoaster at 5:32 PM on May 7, 2005

We were married by a judge in his courtroom, our 3rd ceremony in less than a year. After a couple of traffic offense cases and a few bad check writers were dealt with, he married us. That was it. I don't think he even left his bench. So, no, he didn't get a tip.
posted by LadyBonita at 8:18 PM on May 7, 2005

If you call ahead to the courthouse and find out that the judge can't receive a tip, perhaps you can give him a card with a note saying that a certain amount of money was donated to a charity, or even better, some justice-related chartity. Perhaps make the donation in his name.
posted by lockle at 4:41 AM on May 8, 2005

We got married first thing in the morning, as soon as judge Bergman got into chambers. It was short, she was in a great mood, and tipping would have been very weird. Bake some muffins or something.

And yeah, congrats to you crazy kids.
posted by cortex at 6:28 AM on May 8, 2005

tip a government official for doing his office? ... no, i don't think so

of course, a minister is another story
posted by pyramid termite at 7:26 AM on May 8, 2005

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