Catering Service Charge. Is a tip still required?

posted 6 years ago in Etiquette
  • poll: Is a tip required in addition to a 21% service charge?
    Yes : (8 votes)
    19 %
    No : (29 votes)
    67 %
    It depends.....(provide rationale) : (6 votes)
    14 %
  • Post # 3
    665 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: August 2012

    Id like to hear this answer as well. I think that 20 percent is insane!

    Post # 4
    128 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: August 2013

    It depends. Our contract has a service charge and it specifies that gratutity is included as part of that service charge, but I’ve also seen contracts with a service charge that does not include gratuity, in which case yes, you would need to tip on top of that. Review your contract and if it doesn’t specifiy what the service charge includes, contact the caterer and ask. 

    Post # 5
    71 posts
    Worker bee
    • Wedding: June 2012

    I was also wondering about this. My contract does say that gratuity is included. However the owner of the company is kind of a family friend through the grooms family. We asked them how they handled gratuity and they said that it should be included in the contract which it is. They also suggested, and I have read that other brides did this instead……if you see any of the service people go above and beyond or provide excellent service, to tip the catering individuals instead. If you tip the companies, they pocket the money and the servers don’t see it. So make sure that you have some loose $20 bills to tip any one you think may deserve it…if you want. We are going to try to do this. I think that we may have about 4 or 5 service people from the catering company, even if we gave them $50 each, it would be $250 which is still less than $1,000 and you make sure that the people who deserve it actually get the money.

    Post # 6
    214 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: June 2012

    I think the tipping expectation has gotten out of hand. People are earning a fair wage and don’t need to be tipped. I don’t get tipped at my everyday job for a job well done. In my catering breakdown, the servers are making about $20/hour. I think that is plenty of money for the job they are doing. That’s equivelant to a salary of almost $42 K a year.

    Post # 7
    1866 posts
    Buzzing bee

    If there’s a 20% service charge, my assumption is that gratuity is included in that charge.

    Post # 8
    16213 posts
    Honey Beekeeper

    We had the same service charge. It included gratuity, for us at least.

    Post # 9
    3175 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: May 2012

    @alphagam84:  Actually, it depends on the catering company. In many states, if tips are expected, a catering company could pay “tipped employee wages”, which are as low as $2-3/hour. It depends on the catering company & where it is located. When I worked catering, I made $8/hour.

    Anyway, as to the question, I think you should ask what the service charge covers specfically. We asked our caterer & were informed that the servers got the entire “service charge” that was tacked to our bill. We may tip a small amount additionally, but I don’t think it is required in this case. If the “service charge” is not being used as gratuity, then I think you need to tip additionally. Hope This Helps.

    Post # 10
    5494 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: August 2011

    No.  the service charge is the (forced) gratuity.

    Post # 11
    1747 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: May 2012

    I was under the impression that while it is included, for the coordinator and the maitre d who takes care of the head table/bride and groom, an additional tip is commonplace.


    Post # 12
    320 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: January 2012 - Wynn Las Vegas/Bouchon Bistro

    It’s usually not necessary. However, we were so thrilled with the service at our rehearsal dinner, wedding reception, and hometown party that we tipped additionally. I think we tipped an additional 50 bucks (25/server) at our rehearsal dinner, 200 at our wedding reception (50/server), and 200 at our hometown party (40/server).

    Post # 13
    1245 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: June 2011

    @FutureMrs.Davis:  I think that if you are paying a 21% service charge, which is ridiculous anyway, then no additional tip is needed or expected.

    Post # 15
    1 posts
    • Wedding: September 2014

    @alphagam84:  I agree. Regular serves get paid min wage so tip is how they survive. But $25-24 per hour plus a $150 tip?? I am in the wrong buisness. 

    Post # 15
    1 posts
    • Wedding: March 2016

    When asked, this is how my catering company explains our 18% Service Fee. It is not a tip or gratuity for the “day of” staff. The service charge is used towards items like catering insurance, office supplies, van fuel, rent, tastings for clients and payments to admin staff, delivery driver and kitchen staff. It is operating capital, that isn’t covered in the price of catering, which, by the way, pays for food, the chef, any sales reps that might have been involved in the event and even the owner’s salary. The service charge is what keeps a company in business. It truly is the norm for most venues or catering companies to add between 16 – 22% to the bottom line. I hope that helps explain things.

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