The Tacky Truth About Tip Jars

Weddings come with just as many questions as guests, and today’s question deals with tip jars at the bar on your wedding day. If you are having bartenders serve alcohol at your wedding, it is customary to tip them for their service. This can be done either by adding an amount to the final bill, or by allowing them to put out a tip jar. Our advice: keep the tip jars out of your wedding.

A tip jar is a strong signal to your guests that they should tip on their drinks, and some may not see it as optional. If possible, we want to avoid asking your guests to pull out their wallets at any point on your wedding day. Consider that you are the host of the evening. You have picked the date, the location, the menu, the drink selections, and the level of service. To ask guests to pay for your choices is impolite. If you wouldn’t ask your guests to tip on their drinks at your house party, don’t ask them to do it at their wedding.

If guests want to tip the bartenders for exceptional service, they will do so even without a tip jar. It is perfectly common to place a bill on the bar counter for the bartender to grab after receiving a drink, and such an action makes no one else uncomfortable.

One caveat: cash bars. If you are choosing to have a cash bar at any point on your wedding weekend (including at the after party), make it clear to guests that beverages are “available for purchase.” Where the guests are buying their own drinks, they are also responsible for the tip.

Though it is customary to tip bartenders at weddings, we advise against putting out tip jars. Guests may feel obligated to leave a tip, and you don’t want them feeling uncomfortable on your big day. If you have a cash bar, clarify on your website that drinks are available for purchase so guests know they are responsible for their own consumption. Thoughts? Let us know!

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