(Closed) Would you tip? Already fee for "Labor" and "Service"

posted 4 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
48 posts
  • Wedding: September 2012

Labor and service fees do NOT include tip. Nothing goes to servers aside from hourly rate unless your bill specifically says “gratuities”. I work for the top catering companies in NYC and Los Angeles, and can state this as fact. Unless it says gratuities have also been added, labor and service are not tip as well.




As for what they are charging you for:




most companies offer employees pay based on experience. Runners, Servers, Bartenders are paid based on experience, not based on position. Captains are the only ones who get paid differently based upon position.


Kitchen staff is the same. All KAs start in the same range based upon experience. But chefs get paid more.


But your labor cost is paying the salaries of the staff members AT your event.






Be aware that your service charge is not based upon whats happening that day of your event, but everything leading up to your event. You have no idea how much goes into prepping for an event. You have ordering, shopping, then prepping everything (which usually takes an entire staff of 5-10 people 1-3 days to cook and prep your food, based upon the size of your event), prepping the packing list of what needs to go in the truck, then packing the truck, unloading the truck at the event, then post event, cleaning out the truck, cleaning all items used, restocking items, electricity, etc. Then, if they are arranging a deal on your rentals, which is common, such as plates, flatware, glasses, etc, someone coordinates that and negotiates those contracts as your numbers fluctuate and such.


All that goes into your service charge.




Which means…




If you had a general tip to the entire bill, everyone gets tipped, from the person at the office who coordinated your catering and rental needs, to the kitchen staff who prepped your event, to the truck loading and cleaning guys, to the staff at the actual event. So if you left a tip and meant for 5 servers, 2 bartenders, and 3 kitchen staff to each get $20, which would be $200, just know that in reality, due to the number of people who worked your event, the service staff and kitchen staff who were on site that day might get $5 of that. Also note that catering companies make most of their money on staffing. So you may be getting charged $30/hr for staff, but that server could be making as little as $12 from it. So it IS appreciated.




I have also been tipped on site instead of with my paycheck meaning they didnt add it to the bill (your quote will tell you how many staff members you have, and in what positions they are in). These usually get dispersed in white envelopes and the catering captain or manager disperses it on site. This way, you can control who gets tipped and how much.


I would say, probably 5 of every 75 events I do a year do I get tipped as a captain/server. Which is the “not expected but appreciated” aspect.




Send me a note and I can help you more specifically with what they are offering you. Chances are, I probably currently work for, orpreviously worked for, the company, and tell you what they normally do. I won’t tell you insider business operation things because thats part of confidentiality clauses staff members sign, but I can certainly help lead you in a direction based upon what I’ve seen that company do.






Post # 4
11760 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Labor/Service charges are not gratuity. So yes you tip on top of that.

Post # 6
48 posts
  • Wedding: September 2012

Send me a note and I can give you more direct info about your specific company To help it make more sense. [email protected]


The runners ARE servers too, just FYI. Depending on needs of the event, during dinner service, some staff becone runners and some are placers. but when not literally bringing food into te room, the runners will be serving tables as well. But sometimes its assigned differently, based on event needs.

tip is up to you. No one expects it. I mean, $20 a person is very generous. because we are there 2-4 hours before your event, and 1-3 hours after.

Post # 7
1662 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

The law of the state of NY is that anything labeled service MUST go to servers.   Now that can also cover wages, but figure out what they are getting.

Post # 8
48 posts
  • Wedding: September 2012

Oh my goodness-


Thats what I get for writing a lengthy response on my phone. I have to apologize, I just realized after reading juanita’s statement that I mislabeled the Labor and Service paragraphs.


Your labor is all of the prep work and people in the kitchen prior to your event.


Service are, well, the servers on your day.


Wow, how could I have mixed THAT up? My apologies. But still, none of that includes gratuity.

Post # 9
12100 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2014

IF i were to tip, I would personally only tip on the food & beverage portion of the bill – not the rentals, service cost etc etc.  I may be wrong but that’s the way I see it.  

Post # 10
3093 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

We asked for the number of service staff that will be on site the day of our event and I think it’s going to be 4-5 and we will tip $20. 

We also are being billed a service fee and tax or whatever…none of which includes gratuity and our contract also states “appreciated but not required.”

Our main issue is that our caterer seems to take pricing, charging, and invoicing as a general concept and not use actual tax rates or percentages to calculate the service fee.  We added 3 meals after a final payment was made on everything else and ended up with a $300 invoice ummm…we figured out that she was double charging us the service fee and taxes for the total balance…and not just on the three additional meals.  I’m sure everyone isn’t so sloppy…but it’s been a bit exhausting keeping it all straight.

Post # 11
496 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

You might want to check what (approximately) the servers are actually being paid. Chances are it is far more than the $2-$3 an hour that restaurant staff usually get, so tipping to subsidize their wages is less important. If they are being paid a decent wage already, then I think you should feel free to only tip if you feel they went above and beyond for you and the service was exceptional. People don’t deserve an automatic tip just by virtue of being in the service industry.

Post # 12
7564 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2013

Cater servers generally get much more than the waiter’s minimum wage. In my experience they get $10-$20 an hour. I would give them each a tip directly – a twenty like you suggested would be good.

Post # 14
48 posts
  • Wedding: September 2012

@Madelin:  yes, but as I mentioned, catering companies make their money on staff. If you are being charged a very low rate of $25/hr, that server is likely only seeing $10-12 of that $25. So in reality, they are making $100-$120 for your event, less taxes, and less gas. And many companies do not feed the staff, so we also bring our own cold dinner, or just don’t eat for 8 hours or more.

Worse, its outdoors in May. So it will be hot, they will get sunburned, they will sweat profusely through their clothes which will then need to be dry cleaned…

WHen I am not coordinating weddings, I am a catering banquet manager, I am in charge of the staff that is serving and cooking your wedding food. I know from experience.

Tips are never required, and this comment is not about tipping, but it’s clearing the air about what your wedding staff is getting paid. My company charges upwards of $30 per hour per staff member, and I can tell you over 50% of the staff gets paid less than $12/hr. Top servers/kitchen assistants only get $15. Captains and lead chefs get $18. Every company is like that. Usually, whatever you are being charged, your main servers and kitchen staff (not head chef or captain) are making 50% of what you are paying, sometimes less.

They are not taking home $25/hr. Just remember that when you are on site that day, and they are dealing with drunk guests, sweaty clothing and extreme heat, followed by what then feels like extreme cold at night, being stuck on their feet for 8-12+ hours walking up hundreds of stairs and over uneven grass which always has rocks to trip on and dips in the ground to twist ankles on, then dealing with tons of dirty dishes and germs, and if they are in a company that is not mine, they are probably getting yelled at constantly in the kitchen just for their mere existance (my company promotes impeccible service, but also treating people like human beings, always saying please/thank you/etc to staff, etc), they will definitely spill tons of wine and water on their shoes, deal with broken glass and broken plates and cut fingers, they will be moving heavy furniture, flowers, setting then bussing hundreds of heavy dirty drippy plates back to scullery, trying to find the lost keys of a drunk guest in a huge lawn of grass by crawling on their hands and knees- through the dropped food and wine from the day- in the dark… And eventually, drive home and not be able to sleep because their feet are throbbing.


Usually for less than $12/hr.


Tip is at your discretion.

But they are NOT making $25/hr. They are only making half of that. On a good day.


ANd most are actors and students, so catering is often the only money they are making but the work gives them flexibility to be in school and attend auditions.


No one gets into catering for the high paychecks… They do it for the flexibilty in scheduling. Please don’t decide not to tip because you think they are making good money, because they aren’t unless they are the captain. Decide not to tip because you didn’t like the service.

Post # 15
2288 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: Central Park

I did not tip anyone during or after the wedding. Our food and cake vendors had gratuity built into the bill (18% I think) and the photographer and videographer both own their own business. Hair and makeup was DIY/friends. We did all of the set-up/decorating ourselves. I gave them all great reviews on several websites and I consider that the best thing a bride can do for their business. A little extra cash is nice but not necessary IMO, especially if they own the business and get all of the profit anyways.

Post # 16
48 posts
  • Wedding: September 2012

I will add that some catering companies don’t have catering staff in their employ, they sometimes hire out to staffing companies that specialize in servers. So your caterer could hire one of these companies who pays it’s stop staff members only $12-13 maximum, which is subsidized with only a handful of staff members from their own company.


Could also be that when you hire in bulk, they can charge less. So, if you need 30-40 staff, they can charge less per hour because they’ll make the money back in quantity, rather than needing to charge you more because of your lack of quantity.


But I don’t know who you are hiring, so I can’t tell you the information you want to know.


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