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Catering and Tipping

I contacted my caterer and asked if tips were included in the server estimate. She replied:

" We do not include a tip in your proposal. Tipping is not expected, but of course appreciated and it's entirely up to you"

Are catering staff paid more reasonably than waiters? If so, what sort of tip should I give based on these expenses:

Menu 3,625.00
Beverages 350.00
Staffing 2,058.00
Equipment 1,850.00
Damage Waiver Fee 44.00
Sales Tax - VA (5%) 396.25
Delivery, Pick-Up and Trash Removal 100.0

Edit: My question is not 'what to tip waiters', I want to know if- due to the itemized 'staffing' section etc, on my invoice, and the caterers reply- if it seems that the serving staff is likely to be paid a living wage or the sub-standard waiters wage.

P.S.: 7 staff. Includes 1 supervisor/server, 1 chef, 1 pantry assistant, 3 servers and 1 bartender to begin arriving at 3:00pm and departing at 10:30pm. Averages to $42/ea an hour.


( 17 raised glasses — toast the couple )
Jan. 14th, 2009 06:56 pm (UTC)
At a restaurant I worked at the servers were given a set amount for their time at the venue (like a hundred bucks for the night). As its more involved then just a waiter a tip is usually standard.
I'm sorry, can't give you an estimate on the general percentage.
Jan. 14th, 2009 07:04 pm (UTC)
Considering there is no gratuity added to the bill, then yes, I think you should tip. Probably about 18-20% of the total bill (I believe the "standard" in tipping is about 18% now), depending upon the level of service you receive.
Jan. 14th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
I'm not entirely sure, since we paid our caterers a set hourly rate for their time, but I think you should give 18-20% of the food/drink cost.
Jan. 14th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
"Tipping is not expected, but of course appreciated and it's entirely up to you"

There's often a difference in what catering waiters are paid, and restaurant waiters. For the most part, catering waiters are paid a good hourly wage, and tipping does not make up a significant part of their income. The $2K you're paying in staffing is probably the wages for the waiters and cooks. If that's the case, any tip you give them is just bonus. At events I've worked like that, sometimes the clients will tip anywhere from $20-$50 per person, but it not expected.
Jan. 14th, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
We gave $50 to the event captain and $25 to each of the 4 catering staff and $40 to the bartender.
Jan. 14th, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC)
20% is a good rule of thumb for excellent service, though I wouldn't go lower than 15% unless the service was appalling.
Jan. 14th, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
I'm having a VA wedding too! Sorry, I don't know about the catering thing though. :-(
Jan. 14th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
We tipped $40 per person, originally was going to be twenty but they really went above and beyond in take-down (packing up take-home for guests, etc.) and so we added more.

I do not know exactly what your caterers are being paid.
Jan. 14th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
Edit: My question is not 'what to tip waiters', I want to know if- due to the itemized 'staffing' section etc, on my invoice, and the caterers reply- if it seems that the serving staff is likely to be paid a living wage or the sub-standard waiters wage.

Without knowing how many waiters you're having, that would be impossible to tell based on the invoice. But you might want to check out your state laws and see if there are minimum wage exceptions for waiters, and if that also applies to catering staff.
Jan. 14th, 2009 08:18 pm (UTC)
whoops. additional edit.
Jan. 14th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
I worked for a caterer, was never tipped, but I was paid a flat rate for the night (usually very generous).
Jan. 14th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC)
Since it looks from your calculations that the staff is definitely making more than minimum/waiter wages, I think a tip of $25 a piece is fine.
Jan. 14th, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
I was catering staff for several summers. It was always so fun to go to weddings! We got paid a flat rate (maybe $9 an hour or something?) and then a mandatory tip of something like $20 for each event. Better than the "less than minimum wage" that waiters get, but not a ton better. We also got to eat the food and serve happy people celebrating stuff, so it was really, really fun.

Getting an additional tip was like the greatest thing in the world. Certain families would give each person $50. Others $20. Some nothing. One time, when I was working with two other women, we were given a check for $600 and told to split it...it was the greatest day ever.

I would say slip 'em between $20-$50 each, depending on how great they are and how generous you feel!

Jan. 14th, 2009 10:10 pm (UTC)
I like your comment best because it's about what I was thinking.
Jan. 14th, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
:) The catering company was the only place that would hire an 18 year old with no experience who was going to be leaving in three months. I worked during the summers between college, and it was always a staff of young girls, and it was always WAY exciting to get the extra tip, since most parties did not tip (of course, we had the built-in $20, so they probably felt that was enough).

They'll love you if you tip!

Oh, and I don't think they are allowed to give caterers sub-standard waiter's wages. It's not the same as being a waiter :)
Jan. 14th, 2009 10:58 pm (UTC)
I promise you that your serves are not making $42/hr. For one thing, they are all different positions and different levels of experience. The chef will be paid more than the pantry assistant who will be paid more than a bartender who will be paid more than a server. In the years I worked both as a caterer and as a server the wage usually comes out a little closer to $10-$15/hr. The most I ever paid a serving team was $20/hr and that was at a huge gala event that required some fancy service. Servers get paid crap. Period.
Jan. 15th, 2009 12:49 am (UTC)
Yeah. I figured their pay will be between $9-$20/hr. But, I don't feel obligated to pay as much as if they were getting paid at waiter levels- $2.25 an hour- or $16 for the whole event.
( 17 raised glasses — toast the couple )


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