(Closed) How big was your bar tab?

posted 12 years ago in Food
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  • Post # 3
    613 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: May 2009

    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
    700 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: September 2010

    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
    75 posts
    Worker bee
    • Wedding: July 2009

    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 # 7
    3525 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: August 2010


    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.

    Good Luck!

    Post # 8
    1573 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: August 2009

    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
    304 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: May 2010

    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
    440 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: September 2011

    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 ๐Ÿ˜€ 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
    1229 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: November 2008

    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
    310 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: December 2008

    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 # 14
    69 posts
    Worker bee
    • Wedding: December 1969

    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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Post # 15
    232 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: June 2009

    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
    21 posts

    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!

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