Post # 1
We want to have an open bar, but with no option for a per person cost, how in the heck do you budget for this?
I’ve heard of capping the bar, as in putting a certain amount of money on it, and once that runs out, that’s that. In this situation, does that mean guests pay for their drinks, or there are no more drinks?
Could we do an open bar during cocktail hour, wine served with dinner, and then a cash bar?
Post # 3
you can do it either way. one thing i to be aware of though:
i went to a wedding a couple years ago where they did the bar cap. they reached the bar limit before i’d even gotten a drink, so it turned to cash bar. it was pretty embarassing for the hosts i think.
Post # 4
I think the last option you said would be fine (open bar for cocktail hour, wine w/ dinner, & cash bar). However, I would let your guests know that there is a cash bar after dinner so that they have actual money on them instead of just credit cards.
In the situation about putting a cap on the bar, I think that depends on your vendor. I would assume you have the option of no more drinks or cash bar, but it probably depends heavily on the vendor.
Post # 5
What about drink tickets you could give X amount to each guest that way you know how much you are spending and it makes sure every guest gets a paid drink
Post # 6
We are having an open bar but they priced it per person per hour. It was cheaper for us do to do by the hour then try and guess how many drinks. (all venues are different though) I think the idea of having open bar, then wine served with dinner is great. I would not have a cash bar though. I think if you are inviting guests to an event, you should not expect them to pay for anything. If your budget doesn’t allow for the alchohol I would cut it out or limit it all together.
I know some people think cash bar is okay, but your guests are spending money to come to your wedding, buy you a gift and then you ask them to pay for their own alchohol?
Post # 7
You can really do it however you want. I would talk with some vendors and see what options people frequently choose. They can often work with you on the prices too. We are doing hosted wine and beer (and a champagne pour at dinner) for our guests for the whole night. They have the option of a cash bar if they don’t want to drink beer or wine. Our vendor said that there is no way that they will “run out” of anything as they guarantee they won’t.
Post # 8
Ask your venue!
I know that the venues I looked at budgeted a drink per hour per person for open bar (this is average because some will drink less and some will drink more).
I bet your venue has a calculation that they do to estimate the cost of the bar as well. This would be the best way to budget it in my opinion. And if you budget well and cap the bar at your budget I promise that it won’t be too early! Just ensure people can only get standard drinks at the bar (nothing fancy aka expensive) and no shots!
I hope this helps!
Post # 9
I think drink tickets is a good idea. So is open bar at cocktail hour, wine with dinner, followed by cash bar.
@Havana29: I really enjoy a cocktail or two at weddings. Of course, open bar is the best case senario.. but not everyone can afford that!! When it comes down to it I would much prefer to have the option to purchase a drink at a wedding then to not have any alcohol at all!! If you don’t want to pay for it, you don’t have to buy it! But I think that there should be an option for those who are willing to pay for a drink!
Post # 10
We’re doing per person per hour. It’s about $17.50 per person for 4 hours for mid-range liquor, all beer including imports and their house wine. With our crowd, we think we’ll get our money’s worth. After the 4th hour, we’ll probably open a tab or do a cash bar depending on how much of the budget we have left!
If the per person pricing is just ridiculous at your venue, I’m betting their per drink pricing isn’t going to be that great. You should probably estimate how much you expect your guests to drink per invitee and see what it would be over your time period with each scenario (per person or per drink). I think people drink more when it’s free, though! So round up!
Post # 11
@FMM: I agree, ask whoever is providing and serving the alcohol. They should be able to give you a good estimate of how much people drink in a given amount of time. If then it sounds like it is out of your budget, you can consider some of these other options.
Post # 12
Whatever you do, don’t do a cash bar – its rude to your guests. Figure out what you can afford to spend and what you can get for that money. If that’s just wine and beer or an alchojholic punch, great – but cash bars are a no-no.
Post # 13
Thanks for the advice ladies!
Unfortunately our venue does not do a per-person pricing, drinks are $6/each for decent choices, which I think is fairly reasonable for our area. I guess I am just having trouble estimating how much people will drink, so we can see if it fits in our budget.
Is 1 drink/person/hour a good estimate?
Post # 14
@lisa105: Let’s not turn this into a giant fight like every other thread about bars, ok? 🙂
Post # 15
@OttawaBride2011: I’m not fighting with anyone. The etiquette regarding cash bars couldn’t be more clear – they’re rude. You don’t ask your guests to pay for the hospitality you are supposed to be providing as hosts. You entertain on the level you can afford – you don’t ask your guests to take out their wallets so you can have the reception you want. You would never ask (I hope) guests to pay for their own meals so why on earth would asking them to pay for their beverages be any less shocking or rude?
Post # 16
I did something similar to what @Ally9802 did – we served complimentary wine on the tables (one red, one white, for a table of 6) and had the wait staff pour champagne by the glass during dinner. When the evening shifted into the dancing part of the reception, we opened a cash bar (this is 100% “the norm” in my area, everyone expected it because everyone does it) I think it’s always nice to offer something, but it depends on your budget. If you are considering a “cap”, think about your guests and how much they are going to drink. A cap could suffice or be even more than enough if your crowd does not have many big drinkers.