Outdoor Indian wedding with Western flare. Chrger plates and blue color scheme.

Why Do Some Venues Charge Site Fees?

Whether you’re working with me at ShaadiShop to find a venue for your Indian or South Asian wedding or you’re doing your search on your own, chances are you’ve come across a few venues that charge site fees in addition to per person fees.

Every venue structures their pricing in the best way for their company but here’s a general breakdown of what costs to expect in venue packages for Indian weddings.

In addition to the ones described here, there might be a site fee. The most common reason venues charge an additional site fee is if your event occupies a space on-property that could have been sold to another group.

The Marriott Newport Beach Hotel & Spa is a great example of this. This Marriott is one of the most popular venues for Indian weddings in Southern California. And it’s super unique in that they have 3 outdoor venues for a ceremony, meal, or cocktail reception as you can see below. The first photo is the Atrium Court, most commonly used for cocktail hour. The 2nd photo is Seaview Terrace, most commonly used for ceremonies and/or lunch after the ceremony and the last photo is the Rose Garden their more popular site for Indian wedding ceremonies.

Cocktail hour at an Indian wedding reception
Photo: AaronEye Photography
Photo: Lin & Jirsa
Photo: Lin & Jirsa

Most venues have cocktail hour in the foyer, right outside the ballroom. The Marriott Newport Beach, with its 3 unique spaces, gives couples the opportunity to add flare to their wedding by offering a unique environment with an outdoor cocktail hour, nowhere near the ballroom. Because of that they charge a fee for occupying that space.

{Ceremony Package vs. Outside Catering Package}

Most Indian weddings have the ceremony and reception at the same venue. But some don’t, so the venues separate the fees and services for the ceremony vs. the reception. When a venue’s catering manager refers to their outside catering package, they’re referring to the cocktail hour + reception. It includes the fees, services and policies applicable to the cocktail hour + reception. The ceremony package is separate and typically includes the ceremony fee. If you want to serve lunch afterwards, there are additional fees.

These are the 5 fees to expect:

  • ceremony fee
  • lunch services fee + beverages (if applicable)
  • cocktail hour + dinner services fee
  • beverages at cocktail hour + reception
  • bartending fees

Other Possible Fees
Hotel room block – separate fees/contract
Hospitality room/breakfast – additional fees
Cake (if you decide to get it through the venue)

{What Do Venues Provide?}

Couples and their families often ask me what they’re getting for the per person fees that venues charge, when the venue isn’t supplying the food. It’s a great question because unless you know the fees can seem really high.

The first thing you should know is that venue outside catering packages are designed to provide you most of the things you’ll need. They’re setup to be convenient and that’s what distinguishes them from venus that provide the space only, and you bring in everything else. Outside catering packages provide a lot of services.

Services typically included in an Outside Catering Package are:

  • spaces for cocktail hour and the reception
  • a suite for the couple on their wedding night (at hotel/resort venues)
  • tables, chairs, china, linens, napkins, flatware, glassware
  • risers for sweetheart stage
  • champagne and/or apple cider toast
  • standard wood parquet dance floor (not the white, colored, lit dance floors)
  • servers and bar staff
  • buffet set up
  • bar set up

Note: this is what MOST venues include. Every venue has their own package, so make sure to thoroughly understand what is/is not included).

Outside catering packages are charged on a per person basis and have a Food & Beverage Minimum (click the link for our guide about Food & Beverage Minimums).

(Side note/shameless ShaadiShop plug: a lot of the venues give our clients extra and additional amenities).

{Ceremony Package}

The ceremony package usually includes:

  • the ceremony site
  • chairs setup and tear down
  • risers
  • water station
  • mic and speaker

Note: Like the outside catering package, this is what MOST venues include. Every venue has their own package, so make sure to thoroughly understand what is/is not included).

Ceremony packages are a one time flat fee. If you want to serve lunch after the ceremony, additional per person fees will apply.

{Food + Drink}

It’s called an outside catering package because you’re going to have the food catered from outside; not with the venue’s in house catering. Beverages are still provided by the venue but are charged separately. They’re not included in the outside catering package. In other words you’ll pay additional fees for beverages, whereas the items above come with the per person fees you’ll pay. You might like our guide on Bar Packages.

Typical Outside Catering Packages Include:

ballroom – the ballroom + cocktail hour space. The ceremony is extra.

Hotel Irvine Indian wedding reception.
Photo: Global Photography

tables and chairs – including the setup and tear down

linens – for guest tables, buffet tables, gift tables, and the stage. Most venues have a limited selection of colors included in the package, like ivory, white, and black. Most venues can get you additional colors but they cost more.

napkins – similar to linens, available in limited colors included in the package and the design and style is usually simple, like you see below.

Napkin design and layout comes with the venue package; photo: Lin & Jirsa

china and silverware – you can specify what items you want and at what time throughout the events. In this table setting below, they have everything on the table when guests are seated – water glass, champagne flutes, coffee cup, silverware for dinner and dessert. Some people might opt limit the setting to napkin + silverware.


risers – You’ll need a riser to make the stage as well as the skirt on top. Your decorator brings everything on top of the stage.

Photo: Randery Imagery

dance floor – venues include a wood, parquet dance floor. If you’re looking for white or any other color + customization, work with your decorator.

Photo: Greycard Photography

cake cutting – NOT the cake.

champagne toast – well…champagne or apple cider, your guests can choose.


bar + server staff – usually 1 bar for every 100 guests and 1 server for every 30 guests


suite for the couple – 1 night stay in a suite for the couple (day of the reception).

extra tables – all the tables and linens you’ll need for food, gifts, escort cards etc.

The photo below illustrates venue ceremony packages nicely. You get the space, the stage setup, the chairs setup theater style, and the venue would have setup 1-2 water stations outside or in the back. All of the decor and at this wedding, the runway, are not included in the venue’s ceremony package.

{Take Aways}

I hope this guide helped you understand what you’re getting for the fees you’re paying your venue for their Outside Catering Package as well as the Ceremony Package.

Did this article help you? Let me know in the comments. And follow ShaadiShop on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram so you can see our latest guides and tips.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! 🙂

Samta Varia                                  Founder & CEO                      ShaadiShop: Indian Wedding Venues

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ShaadiShop is a free service to help couples, planning an Indian or any South Asian wedding, find their wedding venue. We walk you through the whole process from discovery to booking. And, venues extend better pricing and amenities to our clients. Visit our main website or contact me to start your venue search today!

Cover image: Wedding Documentary Photo + Cinema

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