(Closed) Open Bar

posted 12 years ago in Food
Post # 17
Member
4 posts
Wannabee
  • Wedding: May 2008

I’m not having an open bar, much to my chagrin.  My parents are very religious, do not drink, have already told me that if anyone gets out of hand they’ll be leaving immediately and taking my younger siblings with them.  It was a huge issue of contention between us, but we resolved it for the best I think.

We decided to keep a cash bar available, but put two bottles of wine on each table of ten people.  So, we’ll be giving them a little free alcohol, and any more they’ll have to pay for.  After being a little upset at this for awhile, I’ve realized it’s for the best.  I always take serious advantage of an open bar at a wedding.  So do all of my friends.  I don’t want everyone being ridiculous.  Even more so, it wouldn’t fit in my budget!

But here’s my big secret: in addition to our wedding party gifts, we’ll be giving each of them enough cash to buy them two drinks at the cash bar.  We feel they deserve a few more on us than anyone else.

Post # 18
Member
84 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2007 - Ceremony at a cement and stained glass cathedral and reception at a boutique hotel ballroom

We had a hosted bar with two signature cocktails, wine, and beer during cocktail hour. During dinner, we had wine and champagne service. Once dancing started, hosted bar again, with two signature drinks, wine, and beer. everything was paid for on a per-drink basis. With 180 guests at $7-8 per alcoholic drink and $3-$4 per non alcoholic drink (tea, soda, etc), it came out to be around $3500-$4000.

I’d consider 1/3 of our guests moderate drinkers (the kind who will go out once every few weeks for drinks) while the other 2/3 don’t typically drink at all. But you’d be surprised at how many non drinkers turn into drinkers at a wedding! Especially if they are having fun. Many of the "non drinkers" had more than a few beers. 🙂

Budget for about 3.5-4 drinks per person during the night and I’d say you’re probably ok. We budgeted 3 drinks per person but we also hit our budget during the last hour of the night and had to switch to a cash bar. But no one noticed or even cared at that point b/c they were all busy dancng and having fun. We didn’t receive one word of complaint about the cash bar since the people who ended up paying at the cash bar were the ones who had already consumed 9 beers from our hosted bar. 🙂

Post # 19
Member
56 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: July 2019

Anyone have experience with hosting a totally open bar that you provide the alcohol for?  That’s what we’re doing for 200 guests, and I’ve budgeted $3000 but have no idea if that’s anywhere close to what we’ll spend.  Advice?

Post # 20
Member
116 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

I’m not sure if this is something that venues do…. but can’t you keep a "tab" at the bar, and just pay the tab at the end of the night, instead of having an open bar?  If you are really sure that you would save money this way because your guests aren’t huge drinkers, it might be a good way to go (and maybe limit options to only wine, beer, and a signature drink or two). 

Or, as someone suggested, maybe you can give the venue a budget so once your guests drink, say, $3000 worth of alcohol, they have to switch to cash bar?  That way you’re not screwed out of a lot of money by paying for an open bar that people don’t take enough advantage of, but in the event they DO drink a lot, they’re still getting drinks on you for a majority of the evening (possibly never even having to switch to the cash bar if the bar doesn’t reach your budget maximum). 

Post # 21
Member
24 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: June 2009

Someone told us that she did an open bar for 135 guests 2 years ago and the bar tab at the end of the night was about $7200.  This is at the same venue we are having our reception at and the bar is consumption based, drinks are currently $6.75 and wine is about $20 a bottle and beer ranges from about $5-$6.  Hope that helps with your estimating, also she said her guests were on the heavy drinker side and she mandated no shots allowed.  Also, evite has a drink calculater that is helpful with estimating how much alcohol you’re need based on humber of guests, drinking level and duration of event. Just google it.

Post # 22
Member
48 posts
Newbee

What my caterer suggested was to do a certain dollar amount as an open bar (say 3000) and once that limit hits, it switches over to cash… we have *very* few people coming who actually drink (religious/recovering purposes), so this will work  well for us

Post # 23
Member
244 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2008

My friends and family hardly drink but his would consider it the greatest sin to have anything other then a top shelf open bar…so we are going to do an open bar but pay per drink not a flat rate per person.  We added it up and the flat rate would mean that each person would drink around 8 drinks….I know for sure no one on my side will have 8 alcoholic drinks in a night and it seemed like such a waste to do the flate rate when half of the guests won’t do any drinks or just 1 or 2.

Post # 24
Member
244 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2008

One other hint I heard from another bride…some weddings provide free transportation for their guests from hotel to reception site which encourages your guests to drink a lot since “hey i don’t have to drive tonight.” If everyone is driving their own car then people are less likely to overindule in drinking since at least one person needs to be driving home. Make sure there are taxis avalible for those guests who drink too much even when they are driving.

Post # 25
Member
735 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2009

have you considered a limited bar? like just beer and wine and some signature cocktails?

Post # 26
Member
378 posts
Helper bee

We’re having around 200 guests and there is absolutely no way we can afford to do an open bar – that’s like $7000-$8000, and our hotel doesn’t allow carry-ins. So we’re just doing beer/wine/pop. I’d like some kind of signature drink but I don’t know how that’s going to work. I don’t really drink beer or wine – I’m more of a vodka/cranberry type girl. So we’ll see. 🙂

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