Budget Weddings

Venue Service Charge

JediElizabethJediElizabeth
1000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
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edited April 2016 in Budget Weddings
Not sure if this is the right place to put this, but you ladies will definitely have a lot of knowledge.

Our venue charges per person for our reception, plus an additional fee for the ceremony spot. They also charge a 20% "service charge" on the reception, then add the 7% tax. So, hypothetically, if the contract pp fee was $100, we're paying $128.40/pp + the ceremony fee (and tax on that).

Is this considered the tip, or should I budget a tip on top of that? 

My venue is pretty inclusive (cake, flowers, food, alcohol, servers & some decor are included in the per person fee), so if I should budget a tip, how much should I tip? 20%, or x per person working that day, or something else? I know I want to go above and beyond for our coordinator because she's amazing, but is the rest of the staff taken care of with the service fee?

The wedding is a year away, so I have some time to plan, but I've been struggling with these numbers for a while. I have 20% budgeted, but my FI says that's too much, and our parents think some of that money should go toward our house fund.

Thoughts?

(edited for typos, though I'm sure there's more in here)

Re: Venue Service Charge

  • Also, if I should tip, what should I tip on? In the $100/pp scenario: the pp fee ($100), pp+fee ($120), or pp+fee+tax ($128.40)?
  • CMGragainCMGragain
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    member
    edited April 2016
    A "service charge" is a tip.  You need not add anything.  Tips are included.  My daughter's venue was structured like this.
    Taxes are not in the control of the venue.  They are set by your state, county and/or city.
    You should have a written estimate from your venue that gives you the grand total.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    Casadena
  • My contract was structured like this as well. Our coordinator made sure to tell us the servers and staffed were all paid regular wages (not the ridiculous servers wages) so we didn't need to tip on top of that. You can always ask them to clarify what the charge goes to and how the servers/staff are paid. 

    We did tip our coordinator because she was amazing and went above and beyond what we expected. We also extended the open bar an hour so we tipped the bartenders on top of that as well. 
    ernursej
  • bleve0821bleve0821 The Shire
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
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    This sounds exactly like my contract.  My FI literally asked the same question when we got the final contract on Sunday (he hasn't seen it up til this point).  He was skeptical when I told him it was the tip (ours is actually a little under 20%, closer to 18%), but our awesome banquet manager confirmed.  I'm amazed at the transparency of this venue, especially given we're on our third banquet manager since May.


    "And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me..."
    --Philip Pullman

  • I have a service charge in my contract, approximately 20%, and the contract explicitly says it is not gratuity.  I have read on other boards, as well as spoken to other brides who confirmed that many full service venues do this, and that amount was not considered a tip, and that the people working the event do not see a portion of that amount. Again, your's may be like the above posters, but just wanted to throw out a different scenario for you. After much pushing, our DOC finally indicated she generally saw 18-20% on the cost of food, of course caveating that with "but tips are not expected!"  
    MesmrEwe
  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
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    Just ask the venue. Mine had a roughly 20% service as well and the coordinator told us that included tip. 
    ________________________________


  • I would ask them what is included in that fee
  • Thanks!

    I'll see if I can get the coordinator to explain, but if not, I'll budget some kind of tip on top of the pre-fee cost per person. I have tried asking before via email, and she didn't respond (not sure if it got lost or what), so I'll have to try in person.
  • Our venue specifically stated that the 20% was the service charge and gratuity so we didn't tip further except for the bar which was separate. If it just says service charge I'd ask. Emails can get lost, I'd either send another one or give them a call.
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  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
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    edited April 2016
    I have a service charge in my contract, approximately 20%, and the contract explicitly says it is not gratuity.  I have read on other boards, as well as spoken to other brides who confirmed that many full service venues do this, and that amount was not considered a tip, and that the people working the event do not see a portion of that amount. Again, your's may be like the above posters, but just wanted to throw out a different scenario for you. After much pushing, our DOC finally indicated she generally saw 18-20% on the cost of food, of course caveating that with "but tips are not expected!"  
    This is what many of the venues around here do - IMO WTF - why is this not included in the cost of the per-person rate KWIM - It seems like an excuse to extort an extra 20%.  IMO - when venues add this there's no expectation of a tip when I'm being extorted an extra 20%.  While a tip is nice in those respects (who doesn't like getting a tip!), I expect the venue to be paying their staff fairly for typically inflated food prices and that money being given to the staff as a tip.
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  • SP29SP29
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
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    edited April 2016
    Double check with your venue, but our venue also charged 20% service fee, which included gratuity.
  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
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    edited April 2016
    I have a service charge in my contract, approximately 20%, and the contract explicitly says it is not gratuity.  I have read on other boards, as well as spoken to other brides who confirmed that many full service venues do this, and that amount was not considered a tip, and that the people working the event do not see a portion of that amount. Again, your's may be like the above posters, but just wanted to throw out a different scenario for you. After much pushing, our DOC finally indicated she generally saw 18-20% on the cost of food, of course caveating that with "but tips are not expected!"  

    Mine has both gratuity and service charge listed.  Two separate lines. However, they were STILL one of the cheapest options for full service and did let me know the total cost with all fees. 

    So for example the coordinator said "It's ____ per person and with taxes, gratuity and fees _____ per person".  The total cost was never a secret for me, I just saw the fee's broken out after.

    edit: words


  • Cookie PusherCookie Pusher Looking over your shoulder
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
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    edited April 2016
    Our contract included a service charge that was specifically not gratuity. We were told that the servers were all paid $25/hour, so while tips were appreciated, they were not required. We asked what most people tipped and we were told it was $X/server and not 20% of the food charge. Definitely ask for clarification from your venue.
    ~*~*~*~*~

    MesmrEwe
  • Our venue specifically stated in the contract that the 18%  service charge is paid to the venue itself and not to the servers. 

    They have a small section of their brochure that suggests tipping amounts that are around the industry average in New Jersey; for wait staff it suggested $20 each, and $20-$40 for bartenders.
  • Cookie PusherCookie Pusher Looking over your shoulder
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    scribe95 said:
    There is no way I would be tipping individual wait staff and bartenders at an event. 
    We didn't tip wait staff individually - we handed the total tip amount to the head server who then distributed it among the rest of the staff. Knowing the standard was $X per server just gave us a way to figure out how much to tip. We tipped the bartender separately since he was on a separate contract, not with the venue or caterer.
    ~*~*~*~*~

  • lc07lc07 Sunny Southern California
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
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    We asked our caterer and it turned out the service charge was not a gratuity. It was an administrative fee. Those working the day of the event did not see any of that money. So we tipped in addition. I honestly can't remember how much but a percentage seemed too high to us for the number of servers so we did a flat amount per server/bartender but I don't remember how much we decided on. 
  • lc07 said:
    We asked our caterer and it turned out the service charge was not a gratuity. It was an administrative fee. Those working the day of the event did not see any of that money. So we tipped in addition. I honestly can't remember how much but a percentage seemed too high to us for the number of servers so we did a flat amount per server/bartender but I don't remember how much we decided on. 
    This seems like a good idea. All told, since so much of our budget is tied up in the venue, a 20% tip will increase our overall budget by something like 15%, which is crazy.

    Wanderlust543 said:
    Our venue specifically stated in the contract that the 18%  service charge is paid to the venue itself and not to the servers. 

    They have a small section of their brochure that suggests tipping amounts that are around the industry average in New Jersey; for wait staff it suggested $20 each, and $20-$40 for bartenders.
    Is this per hour or for the night? 
    lc07
  • That's for the night.
    JediElizabeth
  • I thin our venue charged $75 for bartenders, which did include their tip.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
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