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Wedding 911

???Off site Wedding fees???

We found a venue and we loved it.  It was definitely over budget, but since it had everything we were looking for and more, we decided to go for it.  My fiancé read over the contract probably a dozen times before we signed it.  We found a caterer on their APPROVED catering list, and the venue doesn't have any onsite catering restaurant.  When we submitted the menu to our caterer, we found and 15% OFF SITE catering fee of $1700!  When my fiancé inquired about it, we were told that it is a fee charged to them by the venue, that they pass on to the customer.  So I looked at the catering contract for a company (that we did not like), so we never actually read over their agreement.  And there it was again.

So my questions are as follows:

What is an off site catering fee exactly?
Should we have been informed about this by the venue? it IS NOT in the contract or any other literature provided by the venue.
Should we fight it?  My fiancé is always ready for a candid conversation with any of our vendors.
Is this a normal thing?

Obviously (to me) it is a known fee that is knowingly passed on to the customer by the caterers that they have on their list.  So I am really unhappy about this sizable chunk of money that probably would have made us pass up this venue if we had known about it.  Instead of going a little over budget, 150% of what we intended to spend, with this fee it is DOUBLE our budget for the venue.  As much as we love the venue, we would have never gone double.

Any advice would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

Re: ???Off site Wedding fees???

  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    So the venue charges the catering company a 15% off-site fee?  I would want to know what this fee is for and I would be asking both the venue and the catering company this question.  I mean is it an insurance thing that the venue incurs and then pushes off to the caterer who then pushes off to the customer?

    How much was your deposit?  You said that the venue itself was already over your budget and if you go with this caterer you will over your budget by double.  Honestly, depending on your deposit cost and how far out you are from your wedding date I may just forfeit the deposit and find something that is within your budget.

  • The number break down is this:
    2500 budget for the venue.
    ACTUAL cost 3750. Exactly 150% of our budgeted amount.
    Now with the extra OFF SITE CATERING FEE of 1697.25 we are looking at
    5447.25.  THATS 218% of our original budget if I've done my math correct.
    The deposit is 1875.  We are 7 months out.  If we pull out of the contract before 180 days prior we will get back 50%, or 937.50.

    And just to be honest, I was trying to post this from my bride to be's perspective since we share this knot act for our wedding, but it is the Husband to be that is asking.  

    I am feeling a real fury right now.  We just got our catering offer yesterday, so this is very fresh news and thought I would ask for some advice before I go total Brooklyn style on my Raleigh, NC venue.
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Hello Husband-to-be!

    I would be very irritated as well.  I feel that the off-site catering fee should have been noted prior to you booking.  I mean that is a decent chunk of money, especially if you have no idea what that money is going towards.

    Since you do have about a month before you wouldn't get 50% of your deposit back, I would ask the venue/cater what the hell that fee is for and then sit down with your FI and really think about your budget and finances.  You both may have loved the venue but you have to way the pros and cons and really think if it is worth going over budget for it.

  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    So I was doing a bit of googling in regards to your issue.  I have a funny feeling that the off-site catering fee is actually a service charge.  Meaning the venue incurs $X cost to have a cater come onto their property for an event (electricity, utilities, insurance, etc), thus they push that cost onto the caterer and since the cater is working your event and that is the reason that they are being charge that cost, then they push that cost onto you.  Some companies aren't up front with you about this charge (as you are experiencing) because they want to hook you into booking.  It is like when airlines used to not include all taxes and fees in their prices on line only to include those items at the time of booking (surprise!).

    So, just talk to your venue and caterer and find out what this fee really means.  Then you and your FI just need to sit down and think about how you want to proceed.  But if what I am thinking is right, then that is just pretty shitty of your venue/caterer to just surprise you with that number.  So with any other vendor you may speak with make sure to ask about a service charge to get the complete cost.

  • Did you have a contract with the caterer? Is the fee disclosed it in that contract?

    I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around a fee you didn't know about that wasn't in a contract you agreed to.

    "There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness." -Friedrich Nietzsche, "On Reading and Writing"
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers

    Did you have a contract with the caterer? Is the fee disclosed it in that contract?

    I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around a fee you didn't know about that wasn't in a contract you agreed to.

    I think what happened is that they booked the venue and then was meeting with a caterer that was on the venues approved list.  And at some point in their discussion with the caterer, the caterer said, "hey there is this fee that the venue charges us and that we push off on you. Surprise!"

    [Deleted User]
  • tammym1001tammym1001 Akron, Ohio member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    Is the caterer charging you any other fees? TBH, every venue that we met with had a 20% service charge added to their bill. It's technically a charge that the caterer is charging you so it doesn't need to be in the venue's contract. It's the caterers choice to charge you that fee instead of building it into their prices. I know that doesn't help you any, but I can see how it would be frustrating for the venue not to tell you this, but it's not a part of their contract. 

    If it were me, I would find out from the caterer exactly what that fee covers and if there are any service charges and then have a conversation with the venue and see if they are willing to work with you on it if the entire fee truly does go to the venue. 

    If they don't give you any satisfactory answers and  you can find a cheaper venue I would eat the $937.50 you will lose and go somewhere else that doesn't have those extra charges (only if you can find a place that doesn't have them).
  • I do thank you for the supportive and informative replies.  I know I haven't been an active participant in the discussion, but I needed a day off from planning to think the whole thing over.  

    My original feeling was to scrap the entire wedding and plan the quintessential dream destination wedding before my bride got out of work, and take whatever vendor deposit losses we had (I added them up and ironically they added up to 1700, the same as "the fee").  But alas, my best man talked me off the ledge and I'm back on the steady course tomorrow.  I will be having a discussion with the venue tomorrow about the fee and then making some phone calls around town to other venues if they are unwilling to work with me.  I'm going for at the very least, a fee reduction.

    As I said before, many thanks and I will keep you updated!  War Damn Wedding  ;)
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut mod
    Moderator Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its

    When we were researching venues for my daughter's wedding, we checked her university's alumni house, a very beautiful facility. All of their approved caterers charged a 15 to 20 percent off site fee, in addition to gratuities and food. The fees covered the cost of renting the venues kitchen, janitorial services, travelling and disposables. Before you talk to the venue, be sure you're clear on what that charge covers. 

  • Do all of the approved caterers charge this fee? It might be worth checking with another caterer on the list, if you're not set on that particular one.

  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    It seems like the venue charges the caterer a fee to use their facilities.   Not exactly unheard of.  

    Since the agreement is between the venue and the caterer I'm not sure they are required to tell you.  Some caters might build in the fees into the costs.  Others might break them out.  Others might eat part of the costs by taking on a smaller profit.  Or any combination of the above.

    Lesson learned it getting quotes from catered before booking the venue.   

    Some caters have off-site fees that go to them directly.  That is help pay for transporting the food, setup, stuff like that.    So even if the venue didn't charge them you might have seen that fee anyway.     Every company has costs.  Some just build in costs to the price of the food.  Others break them down for you.

    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • My venue charged this, too.  I knew about it going in though.
  • hellosweetie1015hellosweetie1015 Where the skies are so blue member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    I'm not any help but I came in 100% because of your screen name. War Eagle! 
    Daisypath Wedding tickers
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