Tipping Caterers: Why, When and How much?
Should you tip your caterer or not? Unlike other service professions there are no hard and fast rules. So most people end up being confused and unsure of what to do. Tipping caterers can become awkward when you’re confused of what to do.
In a sense, catering is just like a restaurant. You’d likely tip at a restaurant so why not tip a caterer? A tip is a great way to acknowledge and thank the servers, bartenders and event captain for their great service.
Many catering contracts include a Service Charge, which is generally 18% of the total bill. Check the contract to see if this charge is the gratuity. If it is not, or if there is no service charge, consider leaving a cash tip on the day of the event.
If you’re having a larger event with many catering staff, we recommend giving cash to the Banquet Manager/Captain to distribute to the individual waiters, bartenders and kitchen staff. This is usually the most efficient way to distribute the tips to a large staff. Small bills are helpful with this option. If you’re having a smaller event, such as a party in your home, it is usually easiest to give the tip directly to each staff member and doing so adds a personal touch
In our area (Washington, D.C.), $50-$100 is the standard tip for the Banquet Manager and the Executive Chef and $25-$50 is standard tip for the individual servers, bartenders and kitchen staff.
If the bartenders are separate from the caterer (usually the case when you have a separate contract for the bar), 10-15% of the total bar bill is a fairly standard tip. Again, double check that the service charge is not the tip.
Not sure how many servers, bartenders and kitchen staff you will have? Check your contract. If it’s not clear, ask the caterer in advance.
Tell us about your tipping caterer story.