Do You Need to Tip on Top of Your Venue Service Charge?

venue service charge gratuity
Photo by Basia

We’re looking at a wedding venue that says their pricing includes a 21% service fee plus sales tax on the venue rental fee plus catering. Do we still have to tip the venue staff on top of that, or is it included in the service fee?- Rebecca

A: This is such a great question, and one that is hard to figure out most of the time. So, here’s the deal. That 21% service fee can include gratuity or NOT include gratuity. Crappy answer, right? The thing is that each venue might handle this differently, but I can tell you that 8 out of 10 times a service fee is used for service (aka a waiter or bartender’s base pay, or the fee the venue charges to set up/break down the tables for the reception, etc.) and not gratuity. However, there are definitely a lot of venues who will structure this different and be very transparent in saying that the service fee includes tips. This is one of the first things you’ll want to ask a venue as soon as they send you their pricing information. And if their spec sheet/contract doesn’t explicitly state something alone the lines of “The price is $__ per person, inclusive of gratuity, fees, and taxes” you’ll want to ask them how it’s broken down EXACTLY.

SEE MORE: 6 Things You Should NEVER Do After You Get Engaged

If your venue’s service fee does NOT include gratuity, you can expect to pay each the bartenders 10-12% of your total liquor bill pre-tax (not individually but as a lump sum to split amongst themselves), and waiters around $25-$30/each, to be paid to the event manager. You can read more about wedding vendor tips and who gets how much and when here.

Let us know if that helps!

Have a wedding planning question? E-mail us at hello [at]

All products featured on Woman Getting Married are independently selected by our editors. However, we may earn affiliate revenue on this article and commission when you buy something. Learn more.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.