How much free alcohol to give guests

posted 3 years ago in Reception
Post # 2
Member
5250 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: July 2018

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autumnbridetobe :  I think that’s fine.  I’ve seen people do little ‘have a drink on us’ cards as favours which is much better than a candle/glass/keyring/whatever with your wedding date on it.

For a UK reception 2 free drinks in the evening is more than a lot of weddings. 

Post # 3
Member
1990 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2016 - Sussex, UK

That’s a good idea. Open bars aren’t the norm in the UK so after the welcome drink, toast drink and wine with meal then the guests who want to drink more can or could give the drink tokens to other guests.

The venue we nearly chose offered £250 behind the bar as part of the package but as drink were expensive (£10 for a g&t) I could see that most of the guests would have had to have paid for their drinks if they didn’t get to the bar first.

Post # 4
Member
9632 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

if you are trying to spend the minimum, then i guess 1 drink it is. 

i think on avarage people have 3 drinks at a wedding.

Post # 5
Member
5250 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: July 2018

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ajillity81 :  i think on average people have 3 drinks at a wedding.

Wow 3 drinks? what wedding are you attending?

By the way OP is talking about how to spend the minimum spending requirement for the venue, now how she can spend the minimum amount of money in general. 

Post # 6
Member
1990 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2016 - Sussex, UK

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ajillity81 :  It wouldn’t be one drink though. Drink reception  drink during entertainment, drink during speeches and half a bottle of wine pp. Then OP is suggesting a token for two drinks pp on top if this.

Post # 7
Member
2971 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 2021

Sounds good to me 🙂

Post # 8
Member
693 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: City, State

Sounds good to me, with the venue I’m currently looking at my guests will get a glass of fizz on arrival to the wedding breakfast half a bottle of wine each with the meal and a glass of fizz to toast during speeches, so 4, you’re giving yours and extra 2 to what I am. I’d say more than generous.

 

Also a PP who said people drink on average 3 drinks at a wedding? Last wedding I went to I think I totalled out at about 10.

Post # 9
Member
701 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

Anything additional to the welcome drink/half bottle of wine/toasting drink is usually seen as a generous move. We doubled up the welcome drinks, and had extra bottles of wine on the bar in the evening and had a few comments from people about how plentiful the drink was. Our crowd apparently are all white drinkers though as we had a fair bit of red left over!

I went to a wedding with £x behind the bar, and my friend ordered a drink, found out it was free, and instantly ordered another. It wasn’t really in the spirit of things. A drink per person (maybe as a favour of you don’t want to stretch to the evening people), or add in some extras with the venue (an intermezzo sorbet with dinner maybe? More canapes?) Would be nice.

Post # 10
Member
3385 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

Sounds good to me. Tbh I expect a cash bar at weddings after the meal so anything on top of that is a nice bonus 

Post # 11
Member
9632 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

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zzar45 :  
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EllyAnne : as i said i think the average is 3 drinks.  it seems you disagree and that is ok.  it is just my opinion.  i average the non-drinkers and heavy drinkers and go based on my experience and observations.

i know when my husband is the driver, he will have 2 at cocktail hour and maybe 1 during the reception.  when i am the driver, i have 1 or 2 drinks over the course of the night.

and maybe weddings for 20 year olds are different than weddings for 30 year olds.  as the majority of weddings i attended were those in their 30, our circles got married later.  i attended very few weddings in my 20’s but i could see how 20 year olds are still in that drinking party stage.

Post # 12
Member
7581 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

Having been to many British weddings, I wouldn’t expect anything more than wine on the table with dinner and maybe a bucks fizz upon arrival. I’d expect to buy my own drinks otherwise. 

Personally I hate the idea of drink tokens/tickets. I think they’re much more appropriate for a business event than a social one. I’d skip the drink tickets and follow the UK norm of cash bar. If I needed to spend more to meet a minimum, I’d increase the amount of wine available at dinner. Guests can always continue to drink it as the night continues.

Post # 13
Member
1054 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

At my wedding, originally we were going to provide each guest with the usual arrival drink, wine and soft drinks with dinner, and a glass of Prosecco for the toasts. Anything after dinner was going to be a cash bar (UK norm).

However, my Mum very generously decided she wanted to put some money behind the bar. We debated using drinks tokens but I REALLY didn’t like that idea because of how hard it would be to organise (we had extra guests coming after dinner just for the dancing so I don’t know how we’d have ensured everyone got one). We also debated whether or not to announce that the bar was an Open bar or not, or just let people discover it when they tried to pay.

In the end, we decided not to announce it, and to restrict free drinks to soft drinks, wine, beer, cider and single spirits. There was also free water in jugs around the bar area, which was well utilitsed.

Mum put the equivalent of $1900 (£1500) behind the bar. I know that it wasn’t all spent by the end of the night, and we had about 130 adult guests. So it probably worked out around $14 (£11)pp for the entire night! Which is probably around 3 drinks pp I guess, depending on what they ordered. My friends aren’t very big drinkers so a lot of them probably had soft drinks, since a lot of them had already had plenty of wine with dinner. I know I only had 2 myself.

The Open bar seemed very popular as it’s certainly not expected in the UK and it had originally said Cash bar on the website so people were nicely surprised. No-one, to my knowledge, abused it.

Post # 14
Member
4318 posts
Honey bee

I am of the mindset that I always want to give my guests unlimited free alcohol…but i’m from the good ol’ US of A where this is the norm (I’ve only been to one dry wedding, all the rest have been full open bar).  

I don’t like the idea of drink tickets though, but I do think a fun signature cocktail could work.

 

Post # 15
Member
62 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: April 2019

 I’ve attended both high budget and low budget weddings but have only experienced open bar throughout the whole night. I tend to believe that if open bar option is too pricey, then pick another venue, have less guests (basically, be a good host and throw a party you can actually afford) but what you’ve outlined here seems sufficient to me. 

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