Wedding Receptions & "Guarantees": Negotiate or Pay!

If guests don't show, you pay!
If guests don't show, you pay!

What YOU Need to Know About Wedding Receptions & Guarantees

If you're having a formal or semi-formal wedding at a full-service catering property like a hotel or country club, for example, chances are you are going to have to "guarantee" the number of wedding guests who will be attending your event. 

That means that you are going to "guarantee" to pay for a certain number of guests whom you anticipate to come to your wedding, whether they show or not. 

Negotiate the "guarantee" as low as possible.
Negotiate the "guarantee" as low as possible.

How To Negotiate the "Guarantee"

The "guarantee" is negotiated at the time the contract is signed--and that's the time to negotiate the lowest number of guests expected that you can. You might, for example, think that 150 guests will be attending your wedding. But how do you know?

Let's say that the room you want to reserve holds between 130 and 160. You've already told the catering manager that you expect 150, but he/she is well aware that the number will change. In fact, it could even be higher than 150, if you decide to invite a few extras to your wedding.

To protect yourself, however, you need to negotiate the "guarantee" to the lowest number possible, in this case 130. You can always up the number later, but you can't make it lower.

Do not finalize the "guarantee" until your invitations' responses are in from your wedding guests.
Do not finalize the "guarantee" until your invitations' responses are in from your wedding guests.

The Bottom Line...

By negotiating the "guarantee" as low as possible, you'll be protected if a significant number of guests don't show at your wedding.

The "guarantee" is normally finalized about 72 hours before the event, according to most contracts. By that time, you'll have a definite idea of who will be attending your wedding since your "responses" will be in.

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