Tips on Tipping: Who to Tip and How Much to Give

Who do you tip? How much should you give? Mitzvah parents wonder about this. A lot. So we went straight to the vendors to ask for their expectations and guidelines when it comes to gratuities.


First things first: you won’t tip every vendor. Photographers, photo entertainment providers, and decorators do not expect gratuity. And you wouldn’t tip the owner of a company. (If you do, they’ll just distribute it to working staff members.)

Caterers and Venues

  • In general, catering teams warrant gratuity if service was great.
  • The service charge, which you’ll see included in contracts and on your final catering bill, is NOT the tip. That covers the hourly wages of servers.
  • For excellent service, some caterers report that servers get a $20 tip, and bartenders $40. A banquet captain or buffet manager may get $50.
  • Other caterers report a flat 20% gratuity given on the final food and beverage fees for the owner to distribute to staff at their discretion.
  • When catering is provided through a hotel or event venue, the server and bartender tipping guide still applies, but you may also include a tip for your event manager if the experience exceeded expectations.
  • If you’re unsure about your caterer’s tipping policy, ask about it in a planning meeting. Make sure tipping is not already included in your contract and confirm how many servers/bartenders you will have at your event.
  • Also don’t forget to think about ALL your caterers – Shabbat dinner, Kiddish luncheon, etc.

DJs/Musical Entertainment

  • The DJ/MC/Dancer crew typically gets tipped for managing the party flow and creating the right atmosphere for guests.
  • Several DJs say any form of “thank you” is appreciated, but for those who wish to give cash, here’s a guideline for tipping:
    – MC $40-$100 per person
    – DJ and Dancers $20-$40 per person
    – Production crew (if staff is there to set up and breakdown stage, light kit, screen, etc.) $10-20 per person


For safe, on time pick-ups of the kid crew or relatives, a tip of $20-$30 for the coach or limo driver is appropriate.

Synagogue Staff

You might offer a $20-$40 tip to the support services staff of your synagogue, depending on the size and scope of your on-site bar mitzvah arrangements – for setting up your Shabbat dinner, Kiddush luncheon or evening affair.


While this isn’t a “tip”, it’s a nice touch to make a donation to your synagogue (through a discretionary fund, religious school fund, or whichever category is meaningful to your family) in appreciation of the rabbi and cantor following the bar/bat mitzvah weekend.

Remember, it’s totally OK to have conversations with your vendors beforehand about their tipping policies and how you can acknowledge outstanding service. And that’s an important TIP!