(Closed) Alternatives to Open Bar?

posted 12 years ago in Food
Post # 8
232 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

i have always heard that consumption costs more b/c people even if people don’t drink more at your wedding, they order more drinks.  uncle bob gets a drink, then starts talking to cousin ed, so he puts down his drink and then moves on forgetting his drink behind.  uncle bob then realizes he doesn’t have a drink and goes back to the bar to get another one (it’s free after all) leaving his half filled drink somewhere on a table.  plus – with consumption you have no way of really knowing if you are getting ripped off or not.

Post # 9
70 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

I do wedding planning for a venue in Portland.  The vast majority of my clients do hosted beer and wine and leave the liquor as a cash bar.  Our of the hosted beer and wine, most just run a tab.  If you know that you have more people that drink beer, you may want to consider purchasing a keg or pony keg instead.  The total cost is less than the per beer or per cup price.  The same applies to wine.  Some venues charge by the bottle, others charge by the glass.  I’ve also had clients that do drink tickets, but I personally think its a bit tacky.  We also offer bar packages that are a flat fee for an unlimited number of drinks, but more times than not, our company makes more money because they open bar doesn’t take into account kids and guests who won’t be drinking.

I am running a rab for beer and wine for my wedding in August.  If we have more room in our budget due to a lower turnout, we may add liquor to the hosted bar.  

Post # 10
232 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

@ mattsonc – we didn’t include kids in our guest number for our bar.  is that something people usually do?

Post # 11
140 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: November 2001

I went to a wedding where they had a bar tab up to $500 and when it reached, they told the bride and groom. There weren’t many people who did drink, and they never reached their $500 mark. So i guess this would depend on how many people drink.

Post # 12
2680 posts
Sugar bee

@djmaddiebluedog – At our venue we dont include the kids in the bar count, but we do offer a price for kids where they can get unlimited sodas and water.  Kids are still going to drink, just not alcohol so you need to have an option in your bar somewhere for kids.

Post # 13
4 posts

Another option is charging $1 per drink, friends did this to limit waste and people putting down a full drink and getting a new one. You could even make the money from the bar go for donations to a charity or something of the sort, so people are not upset it is sort of a cash bar.

Post # 14
735 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2009

We just used beer and wine. no one complained, and plenty of people were DRUNK drunk drunk. Also, we were able to return all of the unused alcohol after the wedding for a full refund ( BevMo)

Post # 15
1023 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

Yea, I agree with naangel55. Definitely make sure you are taking care of your non-alcohol drinking guests. I just went to a wedding where there was free keg beer and strawberry punch and everything else guests had to pay for. It didn’t take long for the punch to run out (like didn’t even cover dinner) and all the other guests were stuck buying drinks (even water). Granted this was one of those small town hick vfw weddings (which are quite the norm where I’m from), but still…

Post # 16
31 posts
  • Wedding: October 2008

What about just doing wine and bar?  I don’t think that people really need more than that.  That way you appease your drinkers and non-drinkers.  An open bar is very nice, but not necessary!

Post # 17
4479 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: March 2010 - Calamigos Ranch

A non-cash bar where you (bride/groom) are paying by guest consumption is still an open bar; you’re just charged per drink instead of per head. 🙂 If you’re trying to save money, some options are to just host beer and wine (maybe pick a signature cocktail if you want to host hard liquor so that you don’t need to provide quite so many options), select by head or by drink depending on how much you expect people to drink, or have waiters pass drinks (like passed/tray-carried hors d’ouvres), which will limit consumption… although you’ll have to hire more staff. If you can provide your own alcohol you can save a lot of money; just call a local bartending school to find bartenders if your venue doesn’t provide them and it is very inexpensive.

Good luck!

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