To tip or not to tip
October 6, 2012 5:15 PM   Subscribe

Do we tip our caterer and her staff? If yes, how much?

We are having a small dinner gathering to celebrate our elopement back in March. There wil only be 19 people including me and Mr. Sadtomato. We paid about $3000+ for the meal. We are paying for booze separately. There will be a bartender, 2 dance instructors, the chef and one server.

So do we tip in this situation? How much is appropriate. I have found conflicting advice through Google.
posted by sadtomato to Human Relations (5 answers total)
I have no idea if this is correct or not, but I tipped the waitstaff/bartender that worked at our wedding $50 each. We took a gut check to come up with that number. It was about a $10/hr tip.
posted by fontophilic at 5:26 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes, please tip.

How much? I don't know. I've been tipped a lot and a little at gigs like this. I think $50 to $100 each is apprpriate.
posted by jbenben at 5:28 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I work for a caterer. Tips are hit and miss, but before the recession were the norm. I find that tips are much more frequent in small parties where there are less than 10 staff working. When we got tipped, it was normally $20 (though once I got $15, $25, and $50). I would tip in your situation, especially since $20 a person is only $100 total. Most of the staff are not getting great hourly (probably $10-$20 an hour, plus they normally have to drive however far it is to where you're hosting the party), so a tip is most certainly appreciated and helpful.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:30 PM on October 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm married to a catering bartender. Please tip. If you were eating out in a restaurant or having a drink in a bar, you'd expect to tip — it's just part of the deal. Catering employees do get paid more than servers in restaurants, but it's still not a lot and they work hard under challenging circumstances. If they do a good job and you're pleased at the end of the evening, tipping is the right and decent and humane and enlightened thing to do. (Okay, I'll stop laying it on so thick.)

My sense is that around here (SF Bay Area), restaurant tip rates generally work out as 10% is kinda stingy, 15% is the expected base rate for meets-expectations service, 20% is edging into "good customer, please come back" and 25% is the lower boundary of generous. At those rates, if you were having your reception in a restaurant, you'd be tipping anything from $300 to $750. Divided between the three food-and-beverage people*, that would be $100 to $250 each. Any gig my husband comes home from with $100+ in his pocket in tips we consider a decent night.

(Oh, and if you explicitly feed the servers, as in telling them they should be sure to eat when they get a chance, instead of them just getting last chance at the leftovers after the guests are gone, you rock. There was one Punjabi wedding my husband worked, during which several grandmas and aunties kept bringing plates of samosas and pakora to the bartenders, that we still talk about with fondness.)

*Tip the dance instructors and (if you have one) DJ/band separately — they're completely different services and shouldn't be lumped together when you're deciding how happy you are with the service/how much you want to tip.
posted by Lexica at 8:12 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes, please tip. Ms. fixedgear is a chef who has done many catering gigs. Fifty sounds good, a hundred seems like the high end. When my wife leaves your house it's like the party never happened, so let that be a guide. It should be seamless.
posted by fixedgear at 8:55 AM on October 7, 2012

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