Post # 1
So, I know this is one of the more variable things in a wedding budget, but I’m curious. I’m going to need to do a bit of negotiating in the next couple weeks. At our venue, we can have a full open bar for three hours at $18 per person (plus tax and gratuity). Our reception is a full six hours, so I’ve been budgeting $36 per person (plus tax and tip = $44) and that seems a bit steep. At a rough $4 a drink that’s about nine drinks a person (waaay more than I could put away in an evening an I’m no slouch, if I do say so myself ;).
What did you serve? How many guests? How long was the bar open?
Post # 3
Where is your wedding?
Ive found that prices are heavily affected by geography. I am getting married in MI and would literally sing and dance if our bar tab was $18/person. For call brand drinks, open bar, our venue is charging $21.50/person for 3.5 hours + 6% sales tax and 20% gratuity.
Even if you dont do the flat fee pricing, I CAUTION again the per drink fee. Its horrible. I mean, who is counting the number of drinks? How do you know the wait-staff wont pick up glasses as soon as they are put down for someone to go dance or to the bathroom?
Ask the venue about per bottle fees or maybe having a flat fee for the first 2 hours (when people drink most) and consumption based pricing for the last hours. Hmmm…wait. Your reception is 6 hours? Whoa…youre gonna have a HUGE bar bill. How about you give the venue your buget (including tax + gratuity) and see what they suggest or are willing to negotiate to accomodate your budget.
Post # 4
Our venue lets us decide between basically $12 per person per hour for an open bar, or just simply paying for what our guests will drink. We are going with the latter. The site coordinator told me to BUDGET FOR ABOUT 3 DRINKS PER PERSON THAT YOU ARE INVITING. She said this rule of thumb has covered just about every wedding reception that they have ever covered.
So we are budgeting a ceiling of $3000, and I guess just hoping that it doesn’t go over this amount. I think we’ll be okay. We don’t have a ton of heavy drinkers coming…
Post # 5
I’m curious to hear the answers to this too!
What our coordinator told us to use as a guideline for budgeting is 1 drink per guest per hour. As an actual example, we were told one of the recent weddings at our reception location had about 120 people and a bar tab of $4000+ (in Hawaii, dinner reception for ~4 hrs, full open bar).
Post # 6
I thought it would be handy to add a poll — my first one!
To answer FutureMrsMorgan’s question: the wedding is in North Carolina, but the pricing rate is nearly equivalent to yours 😉
We’ve been estimating that we’ll have 100 guests, so we’re estimating $4,400 for the bar, but looking at other people’s budgets has shown me that that is a really big number — I just wanted to know how big for when I talk to the caterer ….
Post # 7
We got a quote back from a caterer we are considering a couple weeks back. She is quoting us $25 (that is w/o tax & tip) pp for 5 hours and that includes beer, hard liquor (Absolut, Southern Comfort,etc) signature cocktail, soft beverages, all mixers, etc. Based on 100 people. No wine included, this comes direct from our venue a vineyard. And oh this is 2 hrs outside of NYC, Hudson Valley.
I would say even if your price includes wine that is pretty steep. I would ask perhaps what kind of booze that price is based off of. I mean if she is calculating top shelf like Grey Goose that is a different story.
Post # 8
I have a lot of friends who love love love their wine and I dont want to curtail thei r enjoyment while they are celebrating with me since they got me through some tough times; I’ll probbaly do open bar wine and beer for a limited time maybe close one hour before closing, wine for my girlfriends and beer for the men in the group; I’ll probbaly do away with cocktails one cokctail is usually $14/ whew! too steep if you’re downing 5 to 6 per girlfriend
Post # 9
Some people close the bar during dinner and serve wine instead to reduce the cost!
Our caterer quoted us $21 per person for 6 hours. We have the option of bringing in our own liquor instead, but since the caterer is so cheap, we have yet to make a decision on whether to use the caterer or bring in our own stuff…
Post # 10
For my sisters wedding, it was open bar from 8 pm until 1 am. The reception was at a private home so it lasted until people left. The caterer actually ran out of liquor and a liquor run had to happen during the reception. It was a hell of a party though 😀 For my wedding I am estimating roughly 8K. And no we are not doing top shelf and yes it is a large wedding.
Post # 11
I have experience catering/running weddings and events and I am a recent bride and I cannot recommend strongly enough to go with the "per head" flat rate!! We did not have that option for our wedding and if you break down how many drinks each guest had per hour it was more like 2 drinks/hour. And we know everyone did not drink….
Believe me, I would have LOVED to pay $18-25 even 45 per head! Take it and run!
Post # 12
Wow. I would have loved to get a flat fee for drinks per person. Our venue was super expensive ($8.50/$9.00/$9.50 per drink) and therefore we could not keep the bar "open bar" the entire evening. I would say 1 drink per guest per hour is probably a reasonable amount of alcohol to budget for, given what our guests drank in the time we were paying for the bar.
Post # 13
Thanks for the feedback, everyone it should help. I think I’ll aim for about $30 per person when I talk with the caterer, or at the very least, maybe I’ll be able to get top-self thrown in for the $36.
@misscremebrulee — wow! that’s a great deal. I would just go with the caterer and save yourself some hassle.
@MsB — that is steep! We specifically looked for a venue that had flat per person pricing. We have a lot of guests coming from Wisconsin, so who knows what our tab could have ended up being otherwise….
Post # 14
It really does depend on your geographic location as well as the vendue. The original venue we were going to go with was going to charge us $15 a person per hour to host an open bar…and our reception would have been 5 hours..AND that didn’t include tax OR gratuity…
Our new venue is substantially less and will only charge us about half of that price per hour..so to me $18 for 3 hours is a pretty good deal, but only because I had been quoted outrageously different.
OHHH the joys of weddings 😉
Post # 15
we are getting married in connecticut – where prices tend to be high. our bar tab is a flat fee of 19.95 per person for a 5 hour premium open bar, including mixers, bar staff, napkins, coasters and glasses.
Post # 16
Our reception is essentially private use of a nice bar in our hometown. I haven’t calculated costs yet, but our money-saving strategy is to purchase $X of beer and sangria (a house specialty) for our guests– whatever is the equivalent of two drinks per person, at 150 guests– and leave it to our guests to buy the rest of their alcohol. Wish it could be a traditional open bar, but we think this is a decent gesture for our budget wedding. Good luck!