How Much Do I Tip The Caterer: Tipping Etiquette 101

It’s a common scenario when planning a wedding, corporate meeting, or other special event: The big day has arrived, and you’re feeling very satisfied with the preparations. You’ve checked off every item on your list, including booking the venue, hiring a New York catering company, determining the menu, and organizing the guest list. Because you considered every expense and planned for any contingency, you’re set to go.

Though you may think you’ve covered all details, there may be one item that eludes you: How much to tip the caterer. It’s a point that’s easily overlooked during preparations, but the tip is something that you should at least consider making part of your budget.

Why Do You Tip Caterers?

Tipping is defined as giving a person or company a sum of money as a way of rewarding them for providing the services you’ve procured. It’s not considered part of the transaction – a tip is extra. It’s part of social convention in many environments, including catering.

While tipping is routine in restaurants, and in some cases required by an added gratuity, there are fewer unwritten rules as applied to catering. The general rule of thumb is that you tip because you’re satisfied, happy, or even thrilled with the experience. You add a tip when the services, food, music, venue, and all other arrangements were handled impeccably and professionally by the catering company.

How Much Do You Tip a Caterer?

Once you understand the reasons behind it, the next important question is how much to tip the wedding caterer, event coordinator, or other company hired to help you host an event. In some cases, it may even be in the contract and the decision is made for you. Other times, you’ll need to determine a strategy – preferably in advance – of how you’ll calculate the caterer’s tip. Examples include:

  • You may choose to tip on the basis of the total catering bill, at a rate of 15 to 20 percent.
  • You could provide a tip that accounts for the food and beverage cost, usually around 18 percent of the combined sum.
  • A flat rate fee per person may be appropriate, as follows:
    • For servers, food runners, and non-chef kitchen staff, a tip of $25-$50;
    • For the executive chef and catering management, a standard tip may range from $50 to $100; and
    • For bartenders, the going rate for a tip is usually around 10-15 percent of the total bar bill, if separate from your catering services.

In addition, you should note that the amount of the caterer’s tip is also based upon the type of event. For instance, you may provide a higher rate for a wedding as compared to a corporate event. Your big day is a personal, momentous occasion, so your gratitude should be reflected monetarily.

How Do You Tip Caterers?

Besides how much to tip the caterer, it’s important to comply with protocol on who, when, and how. In general, you’ll pay the tip to your agent at the catering service – the person who had taken the lead on all the details and consulted with you throughout the planning process. You’ll want to wait until your wedding or other event is drawing to a close, especially since performance of the catering services is a major factor in determining the amount.

As a practical matter, you should plan to pay the caterer’s tip in cash. Many times, the service will dole out tips to service staff immediately after wrapping things up. All those involved with assisting in your event appreciate being able to go home with cash in their pockets.

Consult with a New York Catering Professionals About Wedding and Event Details

Hopefully, these answers to common questions about tipping will help you guide you on the bigger inquiry: How much to tip catering delivery, the caterer services, and any other professionals that assist with your event. There is no right or wrong way to handle it, but DO make sure you at least consider an extra amount for great service, fantastic food, and attention to every detail.

Please call to set up an appointment with a New York catering company who can assist with your event, and will inspire you to tip accordingly for professional services that exceed your expectations.

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Thomas Oliver's Gourmet Catering & Events

240 West 35th Street,
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 239-0090
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