(Closed) alcohol wedding costs; open bar & cost-effective options. thanks!

posted 5 years ago in Reception
Post # 16
429 posts
Helper bee

We are providing our own drinks as well. We are skipping the champagne and doing drink-on-hand instead. Most of our guests don’t care for champagne. Our venue had a full bar and limited bar option but we didn’t like any of the drinks included and upgrading it wasn’t worth it.  We purchased liquor, wine and beer that we know our guests would like. And if we have leftovers, we don’t mind because we’ll more than likely make use of it some other time. We also aren’t doing a signature drink. We will have a few mixers to choose from for our guests. Grocery stores have good deals on wine, Costco and Total Wine is a good option for liquor. Just keep an eye on the deals!

Post # 18
3323 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2017

The only thing I wouldn’t do is limit your bar hours. That can come off as a bait and switch and is not nice for the guests.

All your other options are fine. Wine & Beer? Cool. Wine, beer & signature drink? Sure. Well/cheapie brands of liquor? Fine. All good options to help cut costs!

Post # 20
70 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

We gave a similar situation: about 80 drinkers and we bought: 2 cases red wine (24 bottles), 2 cases white wine (24 bottles), 4 cases of champagne (some of our peeps only drink champagne), and 5 cases of beer for a little over $1000. We’re doing 2 signature drinks, 1 whiskey and 1 tequila and we plan to buy 6 bottles each of those from CVS ha! They really have the best deal. So all told out of pocket we’ll be at about $1300 for booze. We have some heavy drinkers in our crowd and we wanted them to be able to drink all night.

Post # 21
427 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2016

You know, it REALLY depends on your crowd, so do the math. My venue we HAD to do booze through them. We just did a rough calculation with x number heavy drinkers and how many drinks for each of them and then everyone else. We did consumption betting it would be cheaper than a 4 hour set price and did not put high end top shelf liquor in the options. In the end, we ended up having the “open bar” for about 5 hours or the duration of the entire event (minus ceremony and last call) and ended up at $1400 for 105 people or so, we had been prepared of up to almost $1500 more worst case scenario. Not too shabby!

We had a good amount of family that was up in the air if they would drink and lots of couples with toddlers (in that case, you don’t know if they’lld drink nothing or EVERYTHING). That was just cost of the liquor the venue charged me, does not include cost of bartenders or tip.

Post # 23
136 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

Yeah, $3000 is quite high. We have 100ish guests and we’re doing a liquor-only open bar (with fairly nice options), plus we’ll provide the beer and wine (we weren’t fond of the selections the bar company offered, especially for the beer, since our crowd are beer people)- and it’ll be less than half that. We’re not bothering with a champagne toast, it just seemed unnecessary with all the other options. 

Really, I don’t think anyone would complain whatever you offer (beer/wine only, beer/wine plus signature cocktail, fully open bar), unless it’s a cash bar, but it should be consistent for the whole reception. 

Post # 24
1010 posts
Bumble bee

I don’t have any advice to share, just following because I have the same question. We’re both non drinkers so we know nothing about it (well, he knows more than me) but I can’t even go into a bar and order something without having ot ask questions, so I wouldn’t even know where to start. The place we’re looking out does allow us to bring our own, but we have to hire extra securty (2 officers per 25 guests, and at least 2 bartenders off their list at a price per hour) so I know that will factor into things… we’re also considering a mid-day wedding (with more of a lunch instead of dinner or maybe an early dinner, and I figure that will cut down on drinks. After all, are there really THAT many people who want to get shit-faced at 2 pm? Or is that just wishful thinking? 


On the other hand, we thought about the cutting the hours as well (here, you can only serve alcohol until midnight on Saturday, and can’t start again until after noon on Sunday, and each county is different) so even if we had an evening wedding and it ended before midnight, we do have that on our side… I also don’t want to be responsible for people drinking and driving (I know there have been some posts that state it depends on the place, county, state, etc) that if someone drinks at your event, and is either hurt in and/or causes an accident, that you can be held liable… which makes me a little uneasy about providing too much (and not only that, even if I wasn’t held legally liable, if a friend or family member was involved in something like that coming from my event, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself…. we have a BUNCH of alcoholics/recovering alcoholics across both familes… so its a draw of what could happen). 

Post # 25
379 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

One thing I’d add is that my venue charged me additional per person fees for having wine service during dinner and a passed champagne toast at my wedding. I know you mentioned potentially having bartenders, but if you wanted to have drinks passed, it may be a question worth asking.

Post # 26
776 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2016 - Magnolia House

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cb450k7:  Hey so I just wanted to let you know I took sparklesalways advice and we upped the alcohol. We ended up with 5 cases of beer and 3 cases of wine and we came home with about a case of each, but I am glad that we had too much. 

Thanks sparkles!!!

Post # 27
838 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

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kellijo13:  hey thats great! better too much than too little. And now youre all set to host your next party or youre stocked for months of personal use 🙂

Post # 28
2180 posts
Buzzing bee

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cb450k7:  We’re using a venue that doesn’t provide food or drink, so we’re bringing in a local bartending service for the night. We buy the booze and other ingredients they recommend, they mix and pour and make us look like stellar hosts. We get to serve pretty much exactly what we want.

We’re planning on offering two simple cocktails, one red and one white wine, and two kinds of beer for 50-70 people. If someone turns their nose up at all six alcohol options then they’ll just have to stick to iced tea. Limiting the variety of our shopping list means quality over quantity (our preference and we know our crowd), plus it keeps the wait at the bar short.

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