Northern California Wedding Planner | Budgeting for Service Fees

Cake cutting fees, plate charges, set-up and breakdown, delivery, corkage, gratuity..the fees may seem to pop up everywhere but here is a little info to help you navigate when budgeting for your wedding.  When it comes to fees think of it as a convenience fee to compensate for time or for additional services.


Here are a few of the common fees that you may have not factored in yet! 

Service Fees
When looking over your agreement, do make sure to factor in applicable tax, service fees and gratuity. 

For example you may see this on your catering contract:

An eighteen percent (18%) service charge will be included in the final billing on all food, beverage and labor. The service charge covers the use of our equipment, kitchen essentials, buffet décor, energy costs, liability insurance fees, and all necessary permits and other administrative expenses. Please note that the service charge is taxable based on California State Regulation 1603(f) and is not a gratuity for the personnel.

Cake Cutting Fees
Typically charged when your venue, caterer or other staff who are not affiliated with the bakery who provided the cake.  The fee ranges any where from a flat fee of $25 to anywhere from $1-$4 per guest.  This mainly is due to covering the staff member designated to cut the cake (especially for large cakes or multiple tiers.) 

Corkage Fees
Corkage is a per bottle fee that a restaurant charges a customer who brings their own wine to be consumed at that restaurant. This isn't allowed in the majority of restaurants in the country, but it's very common/normal in Northern California.

Delivery Charges 
This one is pretty standard - Rental items, florals, cakes or other specialty items will likely have a delivery fee if you aren't planning to pick-up.  Delivery fees are charged to cover fuel and for the driver's time.  

Set-up/Break-down Charges
The set-up and break-down fees covers the time and labor of setting up chairs, tables, place settings etc for your wedding.  Often the break-down is the area where couples underestimate the amount of labor to clean-up after a large celebration.  Not only cleaning up the garbage and packing the personal items/decor but ensuring that all rental items are packed/stored/stacked per the rental company agreement.  Wood chairs often need to be bagged then stacked which is an extra step as well.  Just ask your wedding party, they DON'T want to do this after a long day of celebrating with you! 

Additional Hours/Services 
When you book your vendors such as a photographer, you will often book based on the number of hours they will provide coverage.  If you decide to you would like them to stay longer, you will likely be charged for the additional hour at a premium.  When it comes to additional services, this is called "out of scope" meaning the vendor wasn't contracted for the specific service but will provide it for an additional fee.  

Recently, a few articles have been circulating accusing the wedding industry of price gouging just because it is a wedding.  However, I think when it comes to fees it is more common in the service industry than most people realize.  Until you have planned a wedding, you just aren't aware of them and it can be a sense of sticker shock when you start seeing the numbers.  We recommend starting with your venue search and narrowing down your selection by first understanding these fees associated.  Work with your wedding planner to ensure that you have accounted for these in your budget! 

~ Happy Planning! ~