Wedding Reception Forum

Paying the caterer - is this normal?

Hi.  Apologies in advance if I'm posting this in the wrong place.  I'm the father of the bride (think Spencer Tracy, not Steve Martin; Spencer Tracy is my hero).  We're about to sign up with a caterer, and they sent us a contract that calls for installment payments.  Cool.  I'd expect that.  A few hundred down, about a third in January, about a third in April, and the rest a couple of weeks before the wedding. Here's what looks weird to me:  The balance is due a couple of weeks before the wedding, in cash. Cash?  Is this a standard deal with caterers, to pay them in full before the event with an envelope full of hundred-dollar bills? Please help a confused old guy.  Thanks

Re: Paying the caterer - is this normal?

  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    It's not unusal to have to pre-pay the caterer. Way too many couples will cry poor after the caterer has done all the work. Sad but true. As far as cash? That seems odd to me. I think parents just gave a check, an out of town (oot) at that. but then again people bounce checks all the time so maybe yours has been burned in the past. Personally, ask if you can give the a certified check. That way you do not have to give cash, but the certified checks guarentees there money is in the account.

    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • I agree with pp. Paying before the wedding is normal, that is what we are doing when we give the final count... 4 days before the event. But I do not recommend paying in cash. A certified bank check is the best way to pay this if they do not take credit cards.
  • All in cash?  Sounds odd to me.A bank check should be sufficient.  
  • Our final payment is due before the event (which is normal) but our caterer won't except checks as the final payment. They will accept checks at any other time. Cash seems odd to me. I'd see if a Cashier's check would work instead.

  • Same as the other posters, our caterer had a similar payment schedule.  (This is why RSVPs are so important).  Something down, 50% of the balance at 90 days, then remaining with final headcount about 2 weeks in advance.  I'm sure part of the reason they wanted that two weeks is to make sure our check didn't bounce.  As far as cash, I would refuse to pay anything in cash.  You'll have no proof that you actually paid it, and they could refuse the service saying you didn't pay.  I would discuss it with them and offer to pay with a certified check or money order (that can't bounce).  I don't see any legitimate reason that they would need cash.  (I can think of some illegitimate ones, though.) 
  • The time line seems fine. The cash is not, I agree with pp pay with a cashier's check.
  • Our cater requests final payment in cash so they don’t have to wait for check to clear. I REFUSE to do cash especially since you have no proof you paid. We are instead doing cashier check for our final payment. We have proof and they have cash. I would speak with them and ask them to do the same just make sure it is written in on the contract and both of you initial the line.
  • i posted a similar question somewhere here on the knot and glad to know i'm not the only one who thinks this is iffy. everyone else told me much as they are telling you that it's simply normal to pay up front. you're not from the south are you? i am and this has be totally baffled because I intended on having nice checks made up and putting my dad in charge of handing them out to the vendors the day of because what recourse do I have if they don't show up.If they insist just do lots of reference checks and check them out on Better Business Bureau
  • ps no cash either my FI was a catering director and it's not normal to want cash if you're worried your clients checks will bounce you shouldn't be doing big business with them accept cashier check money orders debit cards something not just cash
  • My caterer prefers cash too but it wasnt madatory.  She does, however charge an extra 3% for paying with credit card... this in itself will prompt me to try to come up with as much cash as I can before the balance is due.
  • If you write a bad check, it can take up to a month for the vendor to realize it's a bad check.  The wedding would be long over by then.  I can see why they wouldn't accept a check.  I'd tell him that you will pay by money order, cashier's check, etc but not cash.  If he says no, ask how far in advance you'd have to pay in order to use a check.  If he wants cash 2 weeks in advance, but will take a check 4 weeks in advance, I'd side towards paying early.  If you DO go the cash route, I'd make him give you a hand-written receipt.  Or better yet, meet him at a currency exchange and have a hand written recepit notraized.
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