How Do Fees Work for an Indian Wedding Venue?

Updated March 2020

Since venues don’t provide the food for South Asian weddings, they have created unique Outside Catering Packages to accommodate the needs for our community. The 4 most common venue fees are:

  1. Ceremony Fee – a one time, flat fee.
  2. Reception Outside Catering Fee – charged per person. What do you get for this?
  3. Lunch Outside Catering Fee – charged per person. What do you get for this?
  4. The Bar/Beverages – Most South Asians pay by consumption.

What’s Included in the Per Person Outside Catering Fees at a Reception?

  • Tables and chairs (standard banquet chairs)
  • Linens and napkins
  • China, flatware, glassware
  • Cake cutting
  • Dance floor
  • Stage
  • Chafing dishes, sternos
  • Tables for the buffet, cake, and other tables as needed
  • Servers
  • Bartenders
  • Banquet captain
  • and several more items detailed here.

In addition to providing these materials they also do all of the setup and tear down of the items. They actually take care of a lot. Just imagine if you had to do provide all of that? There are some venues that are basically blank canvases – and you have to bring in everything. At first that seems really attractive to couples that are trying to save money as they think that they can avoid a lot of venue fees which seem really high at first.

But when you actually sit down and do the math, there’s only 1 area where you end up saving money — at the bar. At DIY venues you BYO the alcohol, so while you may not consume less in quantity as you would at a hotel or resort venue, your cost per drink will undoubtedly be less.

So how much is that savings? About $3-$4000. That’s a fair chunk of change but the question you have to ask yourself is that savings worth all of the additional work you’ll have to do at a DIY venue? When I say DIY venue I mean venues where you’re arranging everything from electricity to server and clean up staff. For some people the answer swill be yes it is worth it and for others no.

Let me go into more detail about each of the fees.

{Indian Wedding Ceremony Fee}

The ceremony fee is a flat fee. Some venues charge service charge and tax on top of the base fee; and some venues only charge tax on top of the base fee. It varies by venue.  The ceremony fee usually includes the ceremony space, white garden chairs setup and tear down, a water station, and a mic + a speaker. Most South Asians don’t take advantage of the mic and speaker because your DJ handles all of the sound for the ceremony.

Sometimes venues include a rehearsal as well but the majority of South Asians don’t include a rehearsal. But I haven’t seen venues reduce their price because of that.

Recently I’ve been seeing a handful of venues that are charging a baraat fee. Not too many but I have a feeling that will spread to more venues. We work closely with venues to educate them about Indian wedding needs, what matters to these consumers and how to strengthen their offerings to our community. One venue that we work closely with includes a month-of wedding coordinator and chiavari chairs.

What’s Included in the Per Person Outside Catering Fees at a Ceremony?

  • Chairs (for outdoor ceremonies the chairs are usually the white chairs pictured below. For indoor ceremonies, the venue’s standard banquet chairs).
  • Stage
  • Tables and linens for gifts and other items as needed
  • Sound system
  • Infused water stations
Most venues provide, setup and tear down folding white chairs for outdoor ceremonies.. Photo: Lin & Jirsa Photography
For indoor ceremonies and receptions, most venues include their standard banquet chairs. Pictured here is a very common example of what these types of chairs look like, though they vary at every venue.

{Lunch and Dinner Services Fees}

Lunch and dinner services fees are charged on a per person basis. Service charge and tax apply. And the way to calculate your total per person fee is:

base price*service charge*tax NOT: service charge + tax (base price).

The sum of dinner services + beverages at the reception have to meet or exceed the food and beverage minimum.

Service charge and tax: you might see a venue price of $50++. Those two + signs refer to service charge + tax. Don’t ignore them. They add significantly to the final total. FYI, the pricing on ShaadiShop INCLUDES service charge and tax and is general pricing, not the special rates and services that ShaadiShop customers get.


Most Indian weddings have a consumption bar. A consumption bar is exactly what it sounds like, you pay for the drinks consumed. The other option is to pay for a bar package. These don’t usually work out for South Asians because usually at least 25% of the guests are not going to drink alcohol. And packages are all or nothing, meaning you can’t just buy the package for a percentage of guests. Either you pay the fee for everyone or do a consumption bar.

Bar packages mean you pay a per person fee and get unlimited drinks for the whole night.

Think of bar packages like flying there’s your basic package with a certain selection of beers, wines, liquor, you have the mid-tier and the high end. The package prices increase too. For most bar packages EVERYONE…every.single.person. at the reception would have to drink about 5 alcoholic beverages (not water, soda, coffee, tea) to make the package economical.  That’s a lot. And that’s why bar packages typically don’t make sense for South Asian weddings.

Some venues include non-alcoholic beverages in the per person dinner outside catering fee, but very few. That’s a BIG benefit when they do because you gain tremendous value – your dollar is stretching really far – because most venues charge those beverages towards the consumption bar.

For lunch you definitely have the option of only serving non-alcoholic beverages as most South Asians consider the ceremony a religious occasion. They will charge you for each beverage consumed.

{Additional Fees You Might Incur}

  • bartenders – usually 1 bartender for every 100 guests. They typically cost between $150-$175 per bartender for the whole night.
  • parking – most venues offer discounted parking for events. Check lout our detailed guide about wedding parking fees.
  • welcome bag distribution
  • hospitality room
  • kids room

{Take Aways}

The venue will be anywhere from 35%-40% of your total budget so it’s important that you know what you’re getting and that you understand how all the fees work.

I hope this article has been helpful to you. If it has, let me know in the comments and you might like to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest – whatever your preferred media is, as we frequently publish articles to help making wedding planning just a little bit easier.

Congratulations and cheers!

Samta Varia
Founder & CEO
ShaadiShop: Indian Wedding Venues

 South Asian-friendly Wedding Venues
Visit our main website to start your venue search today!

Cover photo: Lin & Jirsa Photography

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