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Wedding Reception Deposit - 50%????

I just got a wedding reception contract from a restaurant and they require a 50% deposit of the total bill (including service, tax, gratuity, etc).

I guess I'm shocked because most of the catering halls we have talked to have anything from a "anything you can pay" (older owner of a hall) to $2,000, but with a max of $5,000.

Is it normal to slap down $15k as a deposit for a wedding in late 2009?????

Is there anything I can do if it isn't normal?

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  1. I got married last September at the Crescent Beach Club in Bayville, LI, and certainly didn't put 50% down that far in advance. I don't think I had paid 50% until probably like 90 days out.

    And you can always negotiate. EVERYTHING'S negotiable.

    1. Having been in the catering and restaurant business for over 20 years, it sounds to me like someone's trying to fleece you. Who's to say that these folks aren't planning on selling the place, or planning some other strategic financial escapade? We were happy with 20% upon signing, 50% of the balance sixty days before the event, and the balance on the day of the reception. Anything around those figures and within those time frames is customary.

      1. A catering couple (mother & son) were recently convicted here in Columbus, OH for fleecing customers by taking the money and not providing the contracted services. Sometimes they didn't show, made too little food, or did a poor quality job. The judge was insistent that something be done so they couldn't simply close down their catering under one name and open up again under another, so he sentenced them to fines and jail time!

        1. I wouldn't dream of putting down 50% 2 and a half years in advance, they could go out of business before then. I would suggest 10% now and make a plan with them, perhaps another 10% in another year, then 30% 6 months before the wedding and the balance on the day. For one thing how can they quote you now for late 2009?

          1. If they want that kind of money now (15-18 months in advance), I'd be worried about their solvency...sounds to me like they need cash NOW just to stay in business. If that's true, there's a pretty good chance that by this time next year, you'll be in a long line of creditors, trying to get your deposit back.