Even though we've only been a few potential wedding reception sites, I've noticed something that really surprises me. Yes, I was probably very naive when it came to how much this is going to cost, but all of the sites we've been to have all required a deposit (of course) and then several other payments, culminating at the final payment 3 days before the wedding.
They are all asking for the total bill BEFORE anything has happened. I don't get that. Other than booking a vacation (i.e. airfare), I can't think of any industry that demands payment to be completed before services are rendered. I'm sure there are others, but none are coming to mind.
Considering how much weddings can cost, and how much people are able to put on credit cards and the like, I just don't get this. I suppose in this credit poor environment they, like everyone else, wants to maximize their cash on hand, but several years ago why hadn't one of the larger hotel conglomerates or some 3rd party finance group say, hey, we know you want your wedding to be perfect. We know it's going to cost a lot, more than a car, and we want to help. You plan it they way you want, we'll help finance it. Throw together an auto-industry like package, 3-5 years, 5%-8% interest or so with decent credit, and run wild. Everybody wins. The hotel gets its money, and possibly more because people will run towards the high end of things with deferred payments, the credit group will have large payments coming in with interest to cover their costs, and the married couple will have the wedding that they want, not just what they can afford.
Again, with the financial system right now, maybe that's not practical, but it seems like an untapped market, and one that makes far more sense to me than giving a ton of money to someone before they've done anything.