Post # 1
I’m debating between an open bar, or setting a TAB bar. We do not have many heavy drinkers, and if they are heavy, they drink beer. We’re trying to decide if it would be worth having a fully open bar paid per person or just have a tab bar set at $4000 based on consumption. Our guest list is at 175 so I’m not sure if $4000 would even be enough =/. It’s going to be a Saturday evening wedding from 7pm-1am. If you had a tab bar, what did you end up spending on the bar and how many guests did you have?
Post # 3
@kn8973: Ugh, we’re in the same boat that you are and it really really sucks. We have about 200 adults coming, only 80 of those people will really drink and about 50 of those wil drink a lot. We thought we would do a consumption list as well but then Fiance put it all in a spreadsheet and calculated that if the heavy drinkers had one drink an hour and the light drinkers had half a drink an hour, we’d be at $8K. The difference for us between paying by hour would be something like 220 drinks for the entire night. So basically, if we people had one more drink than we planned we’d be at the hourly rate anyway. This doesn’t include soft drinks, waters, etc that we still have to pay for for everyone else. And I know the caterers will take away any drink that people put down so we’d be super tense about people putting drinks down before they finish them.
So basically, we’re planning on paying around 11K for drinks. I can’t believe it.
Post # 4
Oh wow! That is quite a bit just for alcohol! Now that really makes me second guess my initial plan of $4k tab.
Post # 5
@kn8973: Yeah, it’s tough. This includes all beverages though, not just alcohol. A lot of it depends on how much the drinks are at your venue. For us, each drink was an average of about $8, sodas and bottled water are $4. So it’so n the more expensive side. I’d do a similar calculation with the average cost of a drink at your wedding and 2 drinks/hour for the first hour for the heavys and half a drink/hour for the light and then the soft drinks/water for everyone else. If your drink prices are less than what we are paying, you might spend less!
Post # 6
Whatever you do, I’d reconsider putting a tab on it – once people find out that there’s a time or money limit, they’ll start ordering multiple drinks at a time and pounding them before the deadline. Trust me on this as I’ve both watched it in action AND taken advantage of it myself. So the money/time will run out sooner than you might expect and then you’re left with a cash bar – which isn’t a problem but can get kinda hairy.
I’d suggest simply doing a limited bar with a few cocktails, beer and wine, or only a signature drink and letting people pay for themselves otherwise.
Post # 7
Thanks for the advice.. I’m def reconsidering the tab bar!
Post # 8
We are spending $0. We are having an evening wedding with cake, coffee and punch afterwards. We are having a pig roast the following day. We do not drink alcohol, but friends are welcomed to bring beer or whatever to the pig roast.
Post # 9
I can’t really offer advice, as we haven’t had our wedding yet. But I totally empathize with you because we are having the same dilemma! We aren’t considering having a tab limit, but we are debating between paying the flat fee for open bar all night or paying based on consumption. We have tried to work everything out with numbers, but the reality is that you have to try to guess what people will drink, which is really difficult (and sort of impossible). After all our calculations, I think it would be cheaper to pay per drink but not by alot. And if your guestimates are off, then we might end up paying more than the flat rate. So, I think we’ll do the flat rate, just because it’s almost like insurance – at least this way we know we won’t go over the amount we are budgeting (even though it sucks that we might end up paying more than we need to). Ugh, so hard to know!
Post # 10
The best advice I can give is to establish a budget and try your best to negotiate with the vendors. Some questions to ask them is, ‘is this the best deal/price you can give us? is there anything else you can offer? (also before meeting them, try to think of anything that wouldn’t be too much for them to add).’ For instance, caterers should be willing to provide free soft drinks when you are spending a majority of the budget with them. When we would negotiate prices, we would let the vendors know that we are having over 200 people at the wedding. Which is good exposure for their company and you really want to do business with them if they can give you the best deal. The more practice you spend negotiating, the better you will get.
We had our wedding in Nov and luckily the venue allowed us to bring in alcohol but we had to use their bartender. Their bartender cost around $600 which included cups and ice from 6pm – 11pm. He was a good guy and even let us drop off the alcohol a couple of days before so they could be chilled. We ultimately had around 260 people at our wedding in Atlanta, GA.
We spent around $930 on buying alcohol. His friend is a bartender and advised him to stick with two brands of beer, one brand of red and white wine, then some bottles of premium alcohol. The alcohol store allowed him to return any alcohol that wasn’t used and in good condition so we were able to get around $300 back. We didn’t have too many heavy drinkers and our bartender said that he wouldn’t be too generous.
My husband is really good at negotiating so we were able to get our caterer to provide free sodas and a free bottle of champagne for each table (which cost around $3-$6 but maybe it’s cheaper for them). Talk to your vendors and see what they might be able to do to help out. I’m sure they would want a good referral from you after the wedding is over.
It is also ok if you set a tab on your wedding.. you don’t want to go bankrupt because of one night! 🙂 Plus that night is going to go by sooo fast!
Post # 11
Is the price difference huge between a hosted bar and the $4000 tab? We haven’t had our wedding yet but every wedding I’ve been too with a tab bar, the couple ended up adding more later on in the night. We’re doing a full host bar, we were going to do a soft bar, but the difference was only a few dollars per person.
Post # 12
A house brand open bar is about $6900 for 150 guests. This does not include bartender fees or glassware that our caterer is also charging us. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can try to do much negotiating because our venue requires us to get the alcohol through this specific caterer because they hold the license and we have opted out of getting our food catered through them too. Their fee was outrageous compared to other caterers.
Post # 13
Can you just host beer and wine? Or are they making you have a fully open bar?
Post # 14
I think we paid $32.00 pp for beer, wine and house liquor. we only had 120 people so we paid just over 4k including taxes and tip. How much does it cost to have limited open bar per person at your venue? i know we had a choice of just beer/wine which was cheaper than the 32.00pp and we had origianlly planned on doing just that but my dad changed it at the last minute to include liquor for a little bit higher price. is that an option? just beer and wine?
Post # 15
We are having an open bar. Its part of our package at the reception venue. $53/person includes the meal and open bar.