I have been fortunate and have only gotten stiffed once with a bad check and even then, a family member stepped up and covered it. But I have made some changes in my payment policy for other reasons as well.
The way I used to work my payment policy is that I require 50% when booking the event to secure the date and the balance after the event was over. The bulk of my business came from weddings and that proved to be super tedious. Usually the groom had the envelopes inside his coat pocket and I would get it from him after the wedding. Sometimes the wedding planner had the checks, but my point is that somebody had my balance and I had to find out who, where and how to get it.
After the wedding was over usually the wedding party was busy talking to guests or the photographer had them tied up trying to squeeze in a few more shots to sell them later. In any event I hated to act like a bill collector trying to chase down my money after such a beautiful event just took place.
So, I changed my payment policy and it has worked exceptionally well. I now receive 50% deposit for securing the date when I take the booking and the balance is sent to me via mail or electronic payment the week of the event. I make it known that if I don’t get my final payment the performance will not take place and the deposit is non-refundable, that is written in my contract. I haven’t had any complaints and no problems getting paid. Good luck!