One of the biggest questions we get when we're helping couples plan their wedding is: "Is it ok to leave a tip jar at the bar?". This can be a bit of a sensitive topic so let's get through it together.
It wasn't that long ago that open bars were only for a portion of the wedding reception. After cocktail hour or dinner, it would become a cash bar and guests would have to pay for their own drinks and add their own tip. This can definitely still happen today but it's a little more rare.
In any case, wedding trends are constantly changing and there's really no perfect answer when it comes to tip jars at weddings. With this said, we wanted to get a professional opinion from our favorite bartending company, Cali Craft Cocktails. We asked Sarah, co-owner of Cali Craft Cocktails, what her thoughts were on having tip jars at weddings and she replied with this:
Putting tip jars out is FINE. People WANT to tip. If you take the tip jars away, it makes it more awkward. People want to reward you for doing a good job and they look around for a tip jar, then have to wait until they have the bartenders attention to ask “where is the tip jar?”. Then they have to try and slide you money into your hand anyway and most often we have a “tip cup” under the bar, for all the people who insist on tipping even though there is no jar.
Having said that, if you don’t want to put a tip jar out and you want to pay gratuity ahead of time, that is better for the staff, because you will 100% be spending more than what people will put in the jars anyway.
Advice from your Wedding Planner
On a planner side of things, we've seen tip jars work really well at some weddings while at others not so great. It's a really hard thing to predict. Worst case, if you choose to put a tip jar out and your guests don't tip as much as you thought, keep some extra cash on hand so that you can supplement if needed.
As a final thought, having a great bartending company like Cali Craft Cocktails who is able to create really delicious drinks, serve them out quickly and have incredible customer service (we promise this is not a paid post!) really encourages guests to tip more. The overall experience is so much for fun for them and they're excited to support the bartenders!