Post # 47
@barbie86: Wow! I knew London was expensive, but that really hits it home! How big is a normal wedding? We’re looking at around 150 guests (mostly adult), and from what I’ve seen that’s about average in the US.
I attended a wedding where the groom was English (the bride was from the US) and I learned quickly why an open bar would be prohibitively expensive in the UK… The ties on the ushers’ heads were a nice touch, though! It was a great time!
Post # 48
I’ve never been to a wedding with a cash bar. I’ve been to a couple of weddings that were beer & wine only. I think it varies by geography, culture, & social circle. I’m Italian & originally from Long Island, NY – so cash bars tend to be frowned upon.
In NYC, prices for open bars are not usually consumption based, but on a package basis. When I was hunting for venues, I saw 4 hour open bar packages range from from $50 – $120 per person. That’s just for drinks, not including any food. Of course you can find places for cheaper than that, but that’s what I saw in the venues I was looking at. Ridiculous!
Post # 49
I am not sure what the norm is, I live in the Boston area. I’ve been to open bar and cash bar, had never heard of a “dry” wedding prior to these boards. We are having 75 pp at our wedding, and doing open bar for beer and wine only, guests will have to purchase any liquor drinks themselves. We budgeted $3,000 for bar, but our venue told us we’ll probably only have to pay $2,000.
Post # 50
@barbie86: They really aren’t that much cheaper. For an open bar (beer/wine) it is $38 per person– which includes all persons (even kids). For liquor it is $43 a person. That doesn’t include bartenders or tip.
Post # 51
I’d say an average wedding is probably 80 guests for the day, and 120-150 for the evening (over here, it is common to invite a proportion of guests to the day, and then extras to the evening, which is almost a separate event; this is perhaps because our weddings tend to be long (our ceremony is at 1pm, our evening reception will end at around 2am), and it isn’t considered rude). Ours is small: we are having 50 guests to the day, and a further 40-50 (so, a total of 90-100) for the evening do. Our food and drink is costing $13.5 k, venue hire is on top of that. And our venue was actually quite ‘reasonable’; many we looked at charged around $230 for canapes, 2 welcome drinks, a 3 course meal, and drinks with the meal.
Brits are big drinkers; most men I know would EASILY put away 10 pints plus over a 6 hour reception, and most women I know could easily drink 7-8 cocktails in that time. I myself would typically drink around 1-1.5 bottles of wine, plus several double spirits and mixers in that kind of time-frame, as would most of my friends. This is probably why venues here would never offer an all inclusive bar option; to do so, they would have to charge a fortune (which most couples wouldn’t pay) to avoid losing money. This would particularly be the case if you wanted a truly open bar ie no restrictions on what drinks can/can’t be ordered, as some spirits here (such as whiskeys) can run at up to $35 (yup, you heard that right; $35. For a whiskey), and wines at over $100 a bottle.
What we’re doing (providing drinks during the day plus putting $3000 behind the bar) would be considered very generous by a lot of British couples; on UK wedding forums, I rarely mention it, because you tend to get raised eyebrows/comments about showing off, etc.
Post # 52
@Pollywog: Is that per hour?
Post # 53
I’m getting a good deal at my venue. I’m having an open bar for 3 hours, at $27/per person (over 21).
Post # 54
I think it depends on your group of friends. Our friends always have cash bars. None of us can really afford to. We generally have a cocktail hour with special drinks that are free.
Our venue also offered to do something special, if we wanted to put a limit say $1500 on an open bar, when we hit $1300 they would come find us and let us know and we could decide what to do, either shut it down or keep it open. That way we are not shocked by a giant bill at the end of the night. I plan on doing open bar for the wedding party all night.
So I don’t think cash bars are that bad. It also prevents people from drinking more than they normally would sometimes, “just because it is free”. But again, it all depends on your circle. Good luck!
Post # 55
@barbie86: No, I understand that point. The last 2 paragraphs of my post were supposed to be specific to the US. I know that in other countries venues don’t have a flat rate and open bars can become ridiculously expensive. Sorry for any confusion.
Well the reception is supposed to be a thank you for your guests, so you need to think of their comforts first. People aren’t going to remember/care about fancy chairs and eleborate floral centerpeices, but they will remember if they had to pay for a drink. Now, if you do think that alcohol is a waste or you are against it for religious then just don’t offer it. Dry weddings are ok! I mean, don’t get me wrong, hosting only beer and wine or beer, wine, and a cash liquor bar is totally ok. I’m not saying you have to pay for copious amounts of liquor, but you need to think of what your guests want. Also, most people don’t show up to a wedding to over-induldge. But some people do like to have a few drinks to loosen up and have fun.
Post # 56
UK… have never been to a UK based wedding with a non-cash bar in the evening. Like OP says, we get welcome drinks and drinks with the meal/for toasts, and then that’s it. Moreover, lots of the bars have been super expensive… about £4 for a drink at one wedding I remember, and up to £8 a drink at another.
Fiance has been to an open bar wedding whicb was real ale based before, though, and we are having a real ale based open bar. I also went to an open bar wedding in Turkey once.
Bear in mind, also, that Europeans are much bigger drinkers than Americans. Fiance and I think nothing of going out and drinking seven or eight pints of beer, and it’s not as if we’re paralytically drunk or anything after that, either. That’s just a typical night in the pub. Unless you can somehow provide your own booze, 7 or 8 drinks for each guest, on top of the welcome drinks and alcohol with the meal, would cost an absolute FORTUNE in most places.
Post # 57
@ArtDecoDC: I’d say the average UK wedding is about 100 people if you include evening guests. Think about it… that’s at least 800 drinks for the evening party alone. Also, we pay LOTS of tax on alcohol. Lots and lots. The average price of a pint in London is now just shy of £4… that’s around $6!
… therefore, assuming your wedding was in London, that’s an absolute minimum of $4,800 just for your EVENING drinks, provided you only serve beer… not even including the rest of the booze with the meal etc.
Post # 58
@RunsWithBears: Being from the UK, I also have to say that dry weddings are usually not considered OK! Guests would rather pay for their drinks than have a dry wedding, by far! the only exception would be Islamic weddings. Otherwise, we’re a boozy society!
Post # 59
I’m in Toronto, Ontario, and I’ve never been to a fully open bar before, though I know it is quite common. It really depends on the social circles you run in too.
We are having an open bar, because it was pretty much almost cheaper to do open bar than consumption or cash bar.
Our reception package includes a 3 course meal, late night coffee/tea/sweet table service, 5 hour cash bar and wine with dinner for $98 per person. If we wanted to opt out of the cash bar, they would have deducted $47 per person, but that removed ALL beverages, including non-alcoholic, and the cost of the bartenders. Their soft drinks were $4/can, beer $6-7 each and mixed drinks $8 each, plus the hourly wage of a bartender, it just makes more sense for us to do full open bar. I just hope our guests don’t take too much advantage and get wasted.
Post # 60
@barbie86: **** me, which part of London do you live in? That’s expensive, even for London, unless they’re serving imported Belgian beer, or something.
Post # 61
Like a PP said, too nice bars are very common here! I would like to do a Toobie Bar, Fiance wants open, so we will have to see.