During recent visits to venues with clients looking to book a location for their event several questions arose regarding some terms in the individual venue contracts.

1. Tax and Gratuity:  First, NEVER pay tax on the gratuity. If each is being charged as a percentage (let’s say 18% gratuity and 7% NJ sales tax) and your per person cost is $100 per person ++ (plus tax, plus gratuity) then your actual cost per person is 25% higher or $125 per person.  It should not be $126.20 which would be the total if the venue calculates tax including the gratuity.

2.  “Service Charge” vs “Gratuity”:  Service charge could mean an additional cost to you for the staff for your event. If this is the definition of service charge at your venue then the gratuity will be extra. Be aware when you look at a contract that some venues include service (waitstaff, bartenders, busboys, chefs, captains, etc) in the per person cost. Other venues may list it as an additional line item usually as a percentage of the total. If you see “service charge” on the contract don’t assume that’s the gratuity. Always ask to be 100% sure.

3.  Change of date fee:  Some venues will charge a fee to change the date of your event after you’ve signed your contract. The venue has held your date and turned away other business and may feel entitled to charge you a fee to change to another date. If this is not spelled out in your contract you have a good chance to fight it. If it is in your contract add the stipulation that the change fee will be refunded if the venue can re-book your original date. This would also work if you cancel completely and your deposit is listed as non-refundable. If the venue (or vendor) can re-book your date they should be willing to refund your deposit.