http://www.myownbridalshow.com What do I tip the bartenders at my wedding is a great question. There are several things to know and consider when deciding on what gratuity is appropriate.
The first is: Is it a hosted bar, or is it a cash bar? If it is a hosted bar, it is generally the rule that you include the gratuity at the end of the evening and is figured at 10-15% of the total bar bill. The tip is then given to the head bartender to be distributed to the others who have worked your event behind the bar. Be sure to check your bill carefully at the end of the evening to make sure the gratuity was not already included in the total.
If you have a cash bar, the gratuity is usually given by your guests by means of a tip jar left at the bar. A guideline for your guests should be to tip $1 per drink on the average. I have heard of several different schools of thought on this topic however. I always like to leave a big tip at the beginning of the evening so I'm assured great service throughout the night. Of course, you can always let your bartenders put out a tip jar and then add to it at the end of the evening as the host if you feel the service was good. Personally, I don't like the idea of a tip jar out on the bar and I would not do it for an event that I was hosting. But the choice is yours with a cash bar.
Please keep in mind, if you have a complex signature drink that your bartenders are spending a lot of time making for your guests it's my opinion that you should absolutely compensate them for the extra effort.
Bartenders are in the service industry and are used to getting a large portion of their pay by means of gratuity.
Tipping is not mandatory, but it can affect the level of service that is provided to your guests.