(Closed) The bar….how to keep it cheap but give guests drinks!

posted 7 years ago in Reception
  • poll: Which option will give our guests the most drinks and will be cheapest for us?
    Cocktail hour where everything is free -- cash bar after hour is up. : (6 votes)
    12 %
    1 drink ticket per guest (Cost $1,000 for 250 people), once used, cash bar. : (4 votes)
    8 %
    $1,000 in kegs and house merlot and white zin - once gone, cash bar. : (35 votes)
    71 %
    Other suggestion... : (4 votes)
    8 %
  • Post # 3
    5273 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: October 2009

    The most affordable option would be for you to pay for a beer & wine bar – that way your costs are controlled (i.e. you can specifically budget excatly how much you want to spend) and as long as you get affordable wine – if your budget is $1000 and you stick to domestic beer – it will last longer then you think 🙂

    Post # 4
    1501 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: September 2011

    Option C seems to be the best one to me. $1000 for you and 3-4 drinks per person. And since some people may only have one or two then others will get like 5 or 6. Pretty even balance.

    Post # 5
    7587 posts
    Bumble Beekeeper
    • Wedding: December 2010

    I like option C for the same reasons AnnieAAA stated

    Post # 6
    241 posts
    Helper bee

    Does your venue have an open bar option of just house wine and beer so there is never a cash bar. Usually that ends up being pretty inexpensive in places I’ve seen.

    Post # 7
    200 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: August 2011

    you could always do beer and a “Signature cocktail” free, and anything else is cash. That is actually a pretty popular option I see in magazines when they talk about cutting costs. It also gives you a chance to work with your theme a bit and make it seem like a cute detail instead of the cheaper option.

    Post # 9
    2867 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: September 2010

    Tiny glasses and a single bar so the wait it horrendous and people give up. 🙂


    I’d say a cocktail hour would work best only because if you do the $1000 option there’s no set time that it ends – some people could think that it’s an open bar and not get a drink till later and then have to pay, while others down several for free at the beginning.



    Post # 10
    211 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: May 2011

    I am currently debating this myself. Right now we have a cocktail hour set up and the venue is charging us at about $5 a person for that regardless of how much people drink. We also have the option of paying for a certain amount of drinks. Its hard to know which is a better deal. I would love if some married bees would reply to this with some insight 🙂

    Post # 11
    85 posts
    Worker bee
    • Wedding: August 2010

    Do you have the option of stocking your own bar? we had 2 bars 180 people and 2 bartenders. The bartenders, mixers (soda, tonic, juice) and garnishes (lemon, lime, cherry) were provided by our caterer and we purchased $2,000 in beer, wine, and liquor in the brands we wanted. We had an open bar all night. Our bartenders were very heavy handed and we still ended up returning $400 worth of unopened liquor to the liquor store and we were able to stock our bar and my parents with what was opened. We also had bottles of beer to last us the next couple of months since we couldn’t return it.

    If this is an option I highly recommend looking into it. it saved us a lot of money and our caterer was more than willing to sit down with us to figure the whats and how much to order. We had a full bar but you could easily pair it down to just beer wine and a few cocktails.

    Post # 13
    86 posts
    Worker bee
    • Wedding: July 2011 - Catholic Church, Lakeview Golf Resort and Spa

    We’re doing beer and wine.  At our venue, it’s not any cheaper than liquor, but depending on how you’re doing it it will cut down on costs quite a bit.  I like option c, because if people want other drinks they can buy them, but you are providing a LOT of free beer and wine for everyone else.  I’d be surprised if it ran out until the last hour of the night, when people probably wouldn’t be drinking anyway.  

    Post # 14
    3871 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: November 1999

    I was worried about this too. I couldn’t afford to pay the caterer $33 extra per person and wine and beer bar.  I had 130 guests.  In the end, I found a venue and caterer that allowed me to bring my own alcohol.  I think it was the best decision I made.  Instead of paying $3300 for an wine and beer bar, we paid about 900 for cases of beer and bottles of liquor.  We did also ask our caterer to supply us with bartenders to keep it classy. If you have $1000 to just buy alcohol. You will have plenty.

    ETA: Oh, I just saw your post about the hotel saying you can’t bring alcohol in. Which sucks because they are able to charge you whatever they want. In that case, what I was planning on doing is letting the bartenders know that you and the groom have decided to pay for the guests first two drinks.  The other option is to put a cap on the bar. Tell your caterer that you would like to put $1000 aside and after that it would be a cash bar. Just make sure you don’t tell anyone this.  Not even your wedding party. If anyone finds out, people WILL go to the bar and get drinks. Which isn’t fair.

    Oh, and I personally don’t like the drink tickets idea. I know my original caterer told me that the bartenders could remember who got what so we didn’t have to do tickets.

    Post # 16
    1690 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: August 2012


    we are doing the same,  what a great saving.  and considering our wedding party is only 20,  i have made a saving of £140.  by buying the wine and champagne for toasts, and paying the hotel a corkage fee,  its cheaper than their drinks package.

    can you imagine what the savings would have been at a much larger wedding,  if i saved £140  for just 20 people……..?

    the wine will be served exactly the same as it would have been if i had bought the drinks package,  no-one will know because i will just drop the cases of wine off at the hotel 2-3 days before the wedding.  

    the saving of £140  has paid for our wedding cake……

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