Post # 1
To start, I’ve set aside cash for the caterers’ tips. It was a non-negotiable line item in my budget until the caterer has become a seriously big problem and source of stress. I’ve worked as catering waitstaff and always appreciated a tip at the end of the night. I know that they are expecting a gratuity because I’ve asked for the breakdown of staff. When I asked for the breakdown of staff, I received a gauche message about “cash” and their “tip stash” etc from the coordinator. . . but that’s beside the point. The awful experience I’ve had with the caterer follows below. . .
In the 10 months that I’ve been working with this caterer, they have changed my coordinator 3 times. With the first change, I received an email singing the praises of the 2nd coordinator. With the 3rd coordinator, we only found out because there was some confusion and paper shuffling when we went to pay our deposit. The 4th came about becuase the 3rd was not answering emails about basic, but important stuff (i.e. how many tables would we have so I could come up with a seating plan). I had to email the owner to get the info after a week of unanswered email and we were assigned a 4th coordinator who is actually in sales for the company, not planning or coordination. She’s been fine, although I’m really stressed out about all of the plans traveling through 4 coordinators and I’m at the point where I don’t have the time or energy to go in to meet with a 4th coordinator to go through everything that was supposed to be ready to go 4 months ago. It’s been a lot of work and aggravation considering this is a large, well-respected company.
I feel like the coordinator’s gratuity is earned through the course of working with them over the planning process. I’m not sure that a few emails back and forth over 2 weeks warrants a $200 gratuity for a sales person who is babysitting the wedding for the night because they don’t have enough coordinators.
I will be shocked if the wedding goes off without a hitch. The question is, do I have my gratuity envelopes ready to go for staff that night or do I see how it goes and leave gratuity at the cater’s office if it’s warranted? I’m leaning toward waiting because if the staff is great, I’d love to sing their praises in the letter I have prepared about how awful the rest of the experience has been. If the whole evening is a mess, I feel like I should let the lack of gratuity speak for itself.
Post # 2
seeker: I’m a fan of giving gratuities based on the work done. I would tell the best man that you would like to give a tip to the wait staff based on their professionalism, speed of service, etc. I would give him guidelines and ask him to use his best judgement. If you have $200 set aside for 5 star service, and they give 4 star service, then they get $150… or whatever makes sense to you.
I wouldn’t be worried about this on your wedding day. Part of the Best Man’s role is to hand out tips (or Father of the Bride if they are paying for the wedding… but it sounds like you are so that’s why I suggested Best Man).
Guarenteed if you leave it in the cater’s office, the wait staff won’t see a dime.
Post # 3
soontobemrsKB92615: The $200 was set aside for the coordinator, assuming it was the same person who took us through touring the venue, planning, tasting, etc. We’ve had 4 different people througout the course of planning. We were told $25-30 for each of the waitstaff. I’d like to give them that, but I don’t trust this woman to distribute it amongst them. She included herself in the staff count when I asked and then said something about her taking care of “the stash” and “don’t worry, I’ll make sure the staff gets some of the cash” It just seemed so presumptuous.
Post # 4
Can’t you just tip the waitstaff individually? I wouldn’t give the coordinator a chunk of cash and expect her to distribute it fairly.
Post # 5
Unless it says in the contract you can’t tip the servers individually, that is what I would do. Separate it out, leaving the coordinators tip and letter to the end. This way the servers get their cash that evening and there is no chance they won’t get it. This way you can also address any issues that might happen with the coordinator and company.
Post # 6
seeker: I’m with you, I wouldn’t be so keen on tipping her. But do keep in mind it’s not her fault the company changed coordinators 3 times! Even if it doesn’t go off without a hitch, consider her position:
She’s got information that’s been passed down 3 times, so who knows how much broken telephone has happened. You’re too tired to update her information, so she’s left trying to pick up the pieces and make them work together.
Even if she does her very very best, something might happen that she just couldn’t foresee because of this.
All I’m saying is I wouldn’t NOT tip her, so long as she does her best. I wouldn’t give the full $200 unless she can pull it off without a hitch, but I wouldn’t give her $0, either.
I think your plan to wait is just fine.