Friday, January 15, 2010

We are in the process of searching for a venue for our wedding day but are a bit confused by all of the fees that some venues are charging. What are these fees? Here is my quick and dirty guide to all of the terms flying around out there in regards to renting your wedding venue:

1. The Food & Beverage Minimum:
Most venues that have on-site catering use this term in lieu of a setup and site fee. It simply means that this is the dollar amount you have to guarantee to the venue in exchange for the space. Please note that this does NOT mean it is what you will spend. You might spend more in food & beverage depending on your menu and guest count, but you cannot spend less or it will roll into a site fee. See No. 2.

2. The Site or Rental Fee:
This is the fee you pay to use the venue for the night. Many venues roll this into the food & beverage minimum so you may or may not see this as a separate line item. If you are at a venue that does not provide catering, the site fee is what you can expect to pay.

3. The Set Up Fee:

Some venues charge this and others don't, but it is to pay for the labor to actually set your space the way you want it such as moving the tables, chairs, etc.

4. The Service Charge:

This is typically a percentage added on only by venues that offer catering services. It is not a gratuity which is a common misunderstanding, but instead it is a fee to cover administrative expenses such as office staffing and insurance. My good friend, Amber of Amber Events, wrote an amazing blog on this recently which you can find here.

5. Tax:
We all hate it, but it's pretty self explanatory

A couple of other expenses you might run into may include:

6. Parking lot rental or valet service
for parking your guests' vehicles

7. On Site Coordinator fees:

Some venues require a site coordinator that may or may not be included in the site rental fee or any of the above fees.

8. Cleaning fees:
Not a common one but one that does make an appearance from time to time.

9. Kitchen Rental fee:

This also isn't a common one, but it is something that comes up if you are working in a venue that doesn't have an in house caterer. If this is the case, the venue may charge you a fee to use their existing kitchen or you also have the option of bringing in your own kitchen. My tip, just rent the's almost always less expensive than building a new one.

10. Trash removal:

Pretty self explanatory and most of the time this will be included in the cleaning fee, however if you are looking at a venue that has to pay for dumpster removal, this may be one that you see.

There are a few others out there that are relatively uncommon so didn't make the above list, however, if you are seeing a fee that isn't on the list, please comment on this post and I'll answer your question directly.

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