Ask the Expert: Are Tip Jars Gauche?

Event planner Morgan Bedore puts the kibosh on this bartender staple

Question: I’ve seen tip jars out on bars at weddings I’ve attended in the past — but I don’t think that seems appropriate. Would it be okay to tell my caterer I do not want bartenders at our reception to have them? How do they get tipped, otherwise?

Answer: “That would be totally okay,” says Morgan Bedore, events manager at Philadelphia’s Stephen Starr Events. “In fact, for our company’s events, it’s mandatory: There cannot be a tip jar, regardless of whether or not the bride thinks it’s okay.” It sends the wrong message to your guests, she says — and if you think of some of the best restaurants out there, they don’t even have tip jars on their bars. So how do you make sure the bartenders and other servers are taken care of for providing fantastic service at your reception? Talk to your caterer before the event. “What we do is have the client tell us what they think is a suitable gratuity, and we’ll add that onto their proposal — that way, it’s done in advance,” she says. “The standard is around 18 to 20 percent, but ultimately, it’s at the discretion of the client.”