Post # 1
I am thinking of having my reception at a restaurant cos I don’t have many options for a small wedding of 30 people. They have a minimum per head we need to spend on beverages which I will agree to. They only do consumption bar which I prefer if I can trust the tally. I have friends & children who don’t drink, some drink very little & there will be those who drink a lot so I like the idea of those who drink a lot being able to have what they want & also not being stuck with the crappy wine that is on offer at “wedding” place. Also the wedding place I have in mind charges the same amount per head for alcohol, including the children. I am just concerned that there is no way of knowing what people really drank. I can limit the more expensive drinks & even cap the bar at a certain point, which I hope not to have to do, but can I trust them? It is a restaurant that will have customers in other parts of the restaurant so I can’t go by the amount of empty bottles. As it is I know they just keep filling half empty glasses. I don’t want to be asking them to verify anything on my wedding night.
Also we don’t have credit cards & are guessing how much we think it will come to so I’m afraid of a check I can’t pay at the end. That is why we will have to cap it at a certain price but if they can’t be trusted that might come too early & I don’t want that for my guests.
Post # 3
This is definitely a conundrum! My future father-in-law works for a major alcohol company and when we were estimating how much wine to order, he gave me some useful tips. First of all, it depends on the age and number of guests of course. Children will not drink, elderly people won’t drink much, and some people just aren’t major drinkers. Generally speaking, take your guest number and assume 2 drinks per person, which will balance out people that will have 4 and people that will have 0. Also, consider where the reception is. Many people will limit themselves if they have to drive home (as opposed to having it at a venue where most guests are staying).
Also, consider do a limited drink menu. This is very common! You can even add a nice touch by naming the drinks after yourselves or your hobbies. For example, my name is “Michelle”, so I might have a “Michelle Mojito”. Choose 3 fairly universal drinks. This keeps people from ordering notoriously expensive drinks, upgrading their alcohol to top shelf, and ordering doubles. Just tell the bartender no exceptions (that way guests aren’t doing shots) and to only serve people one drink at a time (no double fisting!). It’s basically a polite way of regulating guests.
Also, don’t be afraid to cap the drinks. Serve drinks for 2 hours only (or whatever). Make sure all alcohol is house, and make sure the venue has a very reliable way of keeping tabs. Hate to say this, but since there are other people there, they may just claim they are there with your wedding after they hear some of your guests say the same thing (this happened to my father once when we did a grad party at a restaurant!). Also have a plan in place with the bartender or wedding planner just in case–if you hit X amount of dollars, please notify me. Cutting things off a bit early is better than crying at the end of the night because you can’t pay the tab.
Post # 4
Thanks Ms Trigger. I have mixed guests as you described & I’m not worried about them drinking too much.
When I say trust them I mean the restaurant not my guests. I’ve heard of venues adding empty bottles etc.
Post # 5
@lovlea1: OH. I thought you meant you weren’t sure about trusting your guests to limit themselves and not be little piggies! Ha! As for the restaurant itself, that is really hard. It’s basically a trust issue. Perhaps you can check around and find out from others that have had events there whether the restaurant is reliable. My best suggestion though would be to either give your guests drink tickets so that you know for sure how many drinks were consumed and then you can call the restaurant out if the bottle number exceeds that or buy the alcohol amount in advance and just face the fact that this is the only way to make sure you are only paying a certain amount. As for tickets, this can be cute and it doesn’t have to be limited either. Just tell guests this is a way of keeping track and they can feel free to revists (insert name here, maybe a groomsmen) for additional tickets. Just keep stubbs so that if you find that 100 drinks were consumed, but the restaurant claims that 30 bottles were consumed, you’ll know they are being dishonest!!
Post # 6
Thanks for the great suggestions. Not sure the restaurant will go for it. They just like to have waiters walk around & fill glasses. Even the sodas are not free refills. I guess that’s how they make their money. I will give it some more thought.
Post # 7
I was worried about ours too. We have a nice mix of people who won’t drink and people who will. Our catering manager said to plan for $10 per normal drinkers and $15 for heavy drinkers (which he said we could estimate at 10%) and that should be about where we end up.
Post # 8
I’ve been a wedding coordinator for years at hotel resorts – and this is SUCH a hard thing to estimate.
My best advice is to look at your guest list and how long your reception will be and what type of food you are serving. Assume each adult will have 2 drinks for the first hour and one for each following hour.
If there will be cocktail reception type hors d’oeuvres for an hour, add a drink to that hour. If everyone is coming in and having a full dinner right away, keep it as is.
For soft drinks – assume 2 an hour.
These estimates should be high… but it will help you figure out what the max charges should be.
If you feel uncomfortable that the venue would charge you for drinks your guest didn’t consume, I would be wary of having a meal there. Any decent place would never do such a thing.
But – one thing you should ask is for clarification on the charges now, as well as a detailed bill at the end of the night. Double check now how they charge drinks. Some places will charge more for a drink containing several kinds of liquor than they would a simple rum and coke.
And never feel bad or worried about limiting your guests. Not everyone expects a full, premium bar for the whole evening. It is your wedding, and just because you only have 30 people doesn’t mean you should settle for anything!
Limit the bar to what you feel comfortable with. Most weddings these days serve just beer and wine, and will make specific selections so their guests are only choosing from a handful of items. There are many ways to limit it but still provide a great evening for your guests. Find what works for you and your fiance and go with it.
🙂 Good luck! I love intimate weddings and wish we could have gone with one – our original want was about 30 people at a brewery restaurant but it didn’t pan out! You’ll get to spend so much time with people, enjoy it!!
Post # 9
Thanks thewheelsonthebus. I loved my meeting with the restaurant owner & their coordinator. It’s not them that gave me any reason to mistrust. It’s a book I read on all the wedding industry scams & she gave real examples of brides who had caught out their venues ripping them off. Also I believed it because I used to work at a bar/restaurant where once when we had a private event & my boss told me that if I made a mistake with the drinks tab to make sure I made it in our favor.