1. Joanna

    I had a similar question in mind, regarding bartenders at an all-inclusive resort – I just returned from a week at one, and noticed that every single bar in the place had a tip cup. As no one was paying for drinks outright, I wondered what the correct protocol was. Overall, I didn’t really see people tipping.

  2. Elizabeth

    I have to disagree with EPI on this one. I don’t think you are obligated to tip, but I don’t think it should be discouraged or prohibited. These people are still making a low-ish wage and providing a personal service. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with throwing a bit of cash their way.

    In fact, I always tip at open bars. I don’t do it out of obligation. Rather, I (with my husband, the first time we go up to the bar) give the bartender a healthy tip upfront in order to ensure good service for the rest of the evening. A ten or twenty-spot does wonders for ensuring plentiful, strong drinks from a bartender who remembers you and remembers what you were drinking. Open bars almost always have a tip jar out, and if they don’t, they still accept tips. This isn’t a matter of etiquette for me, so much as that I know these people don’t make a lot of money and I am willing to supplement their income on the hope that they will provide me with excellent service.

    Similarly, I always tip at my favorite coffeeshop because in my pre-caffeinated fog the guy who works in the morning always remembers my usual order and saves me the trouble of mumbling it out first thing in the morning. Tipping helps to build relationships that make life easier and more pleasant. It’s an investment that I think is worth it.

    • I only disagree that bartenders make low-ish wages (of course, I don’t know what your definition of “low-ish” is). I paid my bartender $20/hr including travel time the last time I hired one for an open bar. He said that was great money. I can’t imagine what I pay bartenders is that different than the norm around here. That said, I too tip at open bars, at the beginning as you do. I do agree with EPI that it is not required. In fact, I feel that we are coerced into tipping too often in American society.

      • Elizabeth

        Well, at a hall they could be making as much as the servers…I assumed that on the low end, they might make $10-$15? It’s not the worst wage in the world, though, you’re right.

    • Jerry

      I bar tended private parties in the late 1990s and earned $17/hr. (I considered it a small fortune at the time.)

      That being said, EPI’s error was saying that one “should not tip” as opposed to one “need not tip.” The former sounds like there is a per se rule against tipping a bar tender at a private function, which is simply not the case. Elizabeth’s second paragraph is right on the money (pun intended) as to why you may want to tip a bartender at a private party. Anyone who gave me a $10 or $20 at the beginning of the night somehow always wound up at the front of the line.

  3. cincinnati

    My niece is getting married. Me son is in the process of a divorce and has a new girlfriend he would like to bring with him to the weddding. Is it proper for her to be included in the festivities? His to be ex-wife is also being invited. This is causing alot of family distention. Any suggestions?

    • Did your niece invite the girlfriend to the wedding? If she was invited, then she may come if she chooses. If she was not invited, but your son was, then your son may come alone or not at all as he sees fit.

  4. Alicia

    He is still married is my understanding of what you described. Thus his social partner is still his wife. Inviting the girlfriend of someone who is married to someone else is not a good idea. It creates a scene with the wife and the girlfriend possibly at the same event and it also suggests acceptance of a married man having a girlfriend. No a married person should not be invited to bring a date other then their spouse. However this choice is not your nor your sons it is the bride and grooms and they can invite whom they wish.

    • Joanna

      Is the new girlfriend really new, like he just met her and started dating very recently, or is it a somewhat established and regular thing, like six months or a year together? I would think that would make a difference in consideration.

      Also, does the ex have someone new in her life she could bring? I’m guessing not, from between the lines.

  5. Zephyr Johnson

    How late is to late to be served at a formal dinner? I was at my 40 year class reunion a few weeks ago and some of my classmates were very late, desert was being served and a few later than that, and they insisted on being served. Their reason they insisted is because they paid for their meal. How do make them understand that the meal was to be served for one hour only and not when they showed up.

    • Alicia

      I think it depends. If the catering company has the food and it is just a matter of putting it on a plate then absolutely they should be served. If there is no more food or if the catering compay has packed up and left then they should be more prompt. If it was a buffet dinner and the buffet has closed down and there is no easy way to make then a plate then dinner time is over. So it sort of depends. If easy enough to feed them do so but that should be considered a favor not an expectation.

    • Elizabeth

      I would just add that, as rude as it is to attend a function late and demand provisions that have already been served, it is up to the catering company or the restaurant to determine whether or not to serve them. It is definitely not up to you, as a bystander, to “make them understand” that they were rude.

  6. Chrissy

    I am bartending a wedding next weekend. I will only be paid 50$ for the night and the reception goes from 5-11/12. It is an open bar, is it wrong for me to put out a tip jar in this scenario?

    • Alicia

      Depends on your agreement with your client the person who hired you to bartender. Often in an open bar situation the person who hires the bar will tip the bartender. Otherwise talk to whom is hiring you.

  7. susan

    I run a wedding venue, I do not charge gratuity to the Host, seldom if ever has the Host asked or offered to pay our bartender(s) a gratuity. We do place a tip jar out for their guest to contribute to. If the bartender is there working the event for the Host then most likely they have opted out of working in their regular job, where they would have had the potential to make larger tips especially on a weekend night. It is only fair for the bartender to receive tips for the service they provide. Tipping appropriately is important, in any setting, poor service does not yield a high tip or any tip if really bad service. Going over and above for a guest which is what my servers do, certainly deserves to be recognized.
    A recent event at my place, most of the wedding guest work in the service industry-servers, chefs, and so on. The tips that night were some of the highest our bartenders have ever had. 90 guest tipped $142 over the course of 5 hours. The next evening, same number of guest tipped $43. Service wasn’t poor the second evening, just as stellar as the night before. Difference was the guest/clientele. Service industry persons know how hard they work to provide great service and it is always nice to be appreciated for doing so.

    Please tip your server no matter if you’re in a restaurant or a private venue for a wedding. If you see a jar out, it is safe to assume they have not and will not be receiving any part of a gratuity that has or has not been charged by the venue.

    • Elizabeth

      Susan, I am a person who tips bartenders. But I have wondered why service charges are not included as a part of the contract. This is typical for large parties at restaurants, why not in a wedding situation? I have also wondered why the bartenders are not just paid a sufficient wage so that tips are not needed. I understand that some of them may be forgoing working in a bar, where they would be tipped. So, if they are working in a non-tipped environment, shouldn’t their hourly wage be higher to compensate?

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