(Closed) Open bar: Flat Fee vs. Consumption Basis?

posted 7 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
Member
3620 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

Personally, I’ve heard that the flat fee often ends up costing more than the consumption bar! I like the idea of limiting the bottles on display.

Post # 4
Member
1686 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I think people choose the flat fee because it means there’s a fixed cost they can budget. In general, I think it does cost more, unless you’ve got a lot of hardcore drinkers. I think I’m pretty typical: I don’t think I’ve ever consumed more than four alcoholic beverages at a reception; usually a cocktail before, a glass of wine or two with dinner, and champagne during the toast. (I don’t go to a wedding to get lubricated.) And if I’m driving, I don’t drink any at all.

Post # 5
Member
1556 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

I agree with the PP.  IF you know your guests are big drinkers or IF you are just more comfortable knowing how much the bar cost will be, then go with the flat per person charge.  But if you can tolerate a bit of risk and know the majorit of your guests aren’t going to use an open bar as an excuse to drink themselves into a stupor, you will probably spend less with the per-drink charge.  

The venue is in this to make a profit.  I suspect they make their per-person fee high enough that they will make more that way on average, than they would with the per drink charge.  Sometimes, they lose that bet, but I would guess more often they win it.

Also, to keep costs down, can you request only beer and wine?  Or maybe beer, wine, and premium liquor?  If cost is an issue, you aren’t obligated to supply your guests with unlimited top shelf liquor.

Post # 6
Member
1686 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

What Neva said.

Another cost reducing idea: maybe you could have an open cocktail hour, with liquor, before dinner, and then beer and wine the rest of the evening?

Post # 7
Member
273 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

Most venues I looked at charge a fee even for those that don’t consume alcohol – some were as much as $5/hour and some were as little as $7.50 total.  So be sure to factor that in as well.

The place we wound up booking charges by consumption up until we meet the cost of open bar, then they just switch us over to that pricing model. 

Our venue also estimated that people will drink 2 drinks in the first hour of the reception and then 1 drink in subsequent hours after that.  It’s just an average – but a good estimation.

Post # 8
Member
635 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

Remember that you’ll have a lot of wasted alcohol which ever route you go. People put down their drinks to dance then go get a fresh one. You might come out ahead but you might also have a very very high bar bill at the end of the night. I know I’d be going a little crazy inside seeing half finished drinks laying around on my wedding night if I were having a consumption bar.

If you go consumption you might check and see if they can tell you when you hit a certain dollar amount. That way you won’t get stuck with a $9000 bill out of the blue. Also, be sure you know and agree with how they count the drinks. 

 

Post # 9
Member
817 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

There are usually a handful of people who will extremely take advantage of an open bar…but I believe that the majority of the people would only drink a few drinks because they know “someone” is paying for it (you!) and will be respectful of that.  So with that in mind, I think you would save money by doing a consumption-based bar. So you’re paying for the wine on the tables….many people will drink that I would think, just for its ease (don’t have to get up and go to a bar to get one).

Then to buy $42 worth of drinks beyond that? Not a lot of people will consume that much. Unless you have a lot of partiers in your group and it’s at a hotel where people don’t have to drive home.

 

Post # 10
Member
817 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

@MidwestBride2012: Oh, I TOTALLY AGREE with this one too. See if you can do a limit. If it reaches X amount of dollars to stop the consumption bar and go to a cash bar. That way you have no surprises….and even possibly a GOOD surprise if you don’t even meet your limit.

Post # 11
Member
5110 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: November 2011

If you think that your friends and family are big drinkers, and you want to know at the end of the day how much everything is going to be so there are no surprises I would do the flat fee, BUT flat fees often cost more in the long run. You never know what kind of mood people are going to be in and who is going to drink and who is not you dont want to spend 42 dollars on people that arent going to get anything or have a drink. That is some price inflation right there for a beer lol. I think if your okay with surprises go with the based on consumption. It could end up being quite a bit cheaper in the long run.

Post # 12
Member
14496 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

The only perk to the flat fee is that there are no surprises, but I thinkyou usually end up paying more that way.  With us, we had about 150 people, but ONLY 30-40 drank so we definitely went the consumption route.  But we also limited the “open bar’ to just wine and beer.  Mixed drinks were cash.  The venue suggested it to us, and it was a really great way to keep the consumption tab lower without the high cost mixed drinks but still provide drinks to everyone.  Cuase if you tell me its a open bar, I’m surely going to go for the top shelf mixed, but if you limited it wine/beer, I’ll still be just as happy with that.

Post # 14
Member
2410 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

Just to give you some reference, I just got married and did a consumption bar in CT and the bill was $2100 for 125 guests, and we love our champagn in my criwd trust me 🙂 My caterer told me to always skip the flat rate, it always costs more.

Post # 15
Member
293 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

We are in the same predicament. We have a lot of older guests that don’t drink or will have only 1-2 drinks/pp. On the other hand we have some younger guests that will drink a TON! We’ve estimated our final costs of “flat fee vs. consumption basis” to be very similar to your total costs for each w/ “consumption basis” being about a $1,000 cheaper. We will most likely take a chance and go “consumption basis” since there is still a difference of $1,000, so if we have underestimated the cost we still will hopefully come to the same amount (and not exceed) as the “flat fee” route. Hopefully we will not meet the same cost of the “flat fee” though!

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