Reception Site Deposits: Do’s and Don’t’s

I will most likely be getting engaged this Christmas. I don't want a long engagement, so I am trying to find reception sites available in fall 2001. My question is, how much is usually required as a deposit? What is the general formula? --iVillager estepans


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Dear Estepans:

There's no set formula for reception site deposits. Some places require as little as $50 or $100, non-refundable. Others ask for 50 percent up front and another 50 percent payable before the big day. Still others ask for 25 percent to hold the space and then require periodic payments of 25 percent, with the last due the day before or on your wedding date. Some places will refund your money if things don't work out; others will only give a refund if they can rebook the place. Still others will charge you a small penalty, and sometimes you won't get any money back at all.

If you want to get a sense of what's typical in your area, call around to a few halls you're considering and ask about their deposit policy. They should be happy to tell you over the phone.

Our advice to you: If you don't feel comfortable with a site's deposit policy, negotiate. Be fair, of course, but suggest an arrangement that seems more equitable to you. If the site manager is unwilling to at least compromise, she or he probably wouldn't be easy to work with anyway. And that's the last thing you need as you're trying to plan your big day.

When you find a site you like enough to put down a deposit, make sure to get a written receipt as you fork over the money (don't let them tell you they'll mail it to you). It should include the date of transaction, the name and address of the company to whom you're giving the deposit, the specific reason for the deposit (for example, ''To hold the Oak Ballroom for a September 26, 2001, wedding''), and the refund policy. If the site manager does not require cash or money order, it's best to pay by check or credit card since that gives you a second proof of transaction.

Hope this helps. And congratulations in advance!

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