Skip to comments.After wedding, is bar package or by-the-drink better?
Posted on 01/17/2012 10:56:01 AM PST by Former MSM Viewer
Anyone have experience with open bar package of drinks vs by-the-drink for a reception?
We had three options.
First was “package open bar” which was a charge based on a per person assumption of consumption. So, say we had fifty people, assume four drinks per person @ 5.00 per drink (amount per drink depends largely on where you live) throw in a required 20% for the bartender, and tax.
Second was to be paid by us also, and the bartender SUPPOSEDLY kept track of the drinks in a “running tab”, the bill was SUPPOSED to be an actual reflection of the actual drinks consumed. Plus tax and the 20%.
Third was the guests could buy their own drinks, for part of, or for the whole event. So, we could provide drinks up until dinner, then the event changed to “cash bar”, which is the term for “guests pay for their own per drink”.
Or they could just buy their own from the get-go, which would cost us nothing but a 20% gratuity.
We chose the first option with no restriction on call brand (quality). We had a very small reception with only about (half) 25 people that drank. We figured that even if they were heavy drinkers, it shouldn’t be too bad. BIG MISTAKE.
You see, when I went in for the final consult and to sign the contract, I happened to make a joke about hoping the bar bill wouldn’t be over $1500.00 because that was all we had set aside for it. The coordinator assured me that it should not come anywhere near that amount. Then she stood up, took the paperwork, and went through a door that I hadn’t noticed. I could hear her and the manager/owner discussing various details of my contract. And I smacked myself in the forehead - I could hear them plainly. He likewise could hear everything that I had said plainly.
Our bar bill for that occasion came to exactly $1500.00
Frankly, we got hosed.
We actually chose the second option - we wanted a true bill for the actual drinks consumed. They refused to show us the register reconciliation when we questions the costs.
That is not necessarily a sign you got hosed. I worked many open bars with a cap. Every drink was rang up on the register and I would do a total every once in awhile and then cut it off when the cap was reached.
The main thing about free drinks for people.....they drink more and they ALWAYS order premium stuff. Someone that usually will order a gin and tonic will always order a Tanq tonic. A vodka tonic ALWAys becomes a Stoli tonic. You can reach your cap pretty fast like that.
You know, I used to make this joke on occasion, too.
Until I made the wisecrack to a guy whose Sister-in-Law ... the Bride ... got hauled away in handcuffs. She beat the living hell out of the groom (this guy's brother) because she caught him diddling one of the bridesmaids at the reception.
Now, I only make that joke in front of close friends and family.
Is it an Irish wedding or an Amish wedding?
We did not request or suggest a cap. The bar was open the entire time - and many just had bottled beer or wine.
No, we got hosed.
Twenty-five people drank, I only had three drinks, hubby had about four, so twenty-three people didn’t drink $1400.00 + in liquor and bottled beer and wine. LOL - they were all upright and coherent, no drunkies.
I hosted a bereavement gathering (wake) at a different place-no prior notice, and had them run a per-drink tab.
The same deal, no restrictions on brand, wine and beer too. That place had drink prices about the same as the reception venue.
Twice as many people drinking, for roughly 2 1/2 hours came to right around $550. And there were a few drunkies there.
Give each person one or two tickets to get a “well drink”.
Any drinks after that are for the professionals and you keep your costs to a predictable number.
If they're middle class or higher income professionals, and fairly mature adults (but not a bunch of drunks), and they're driving home after the event they'll probably stop at 2 or 3 drinks just out of a sense of self-protection (DUI).
If there are going to be a bunch of college students or low income people who might feel that “urge” to take advantage of a freebie, you need to limit both your financial and legal risk. And earlier post suggested you pass out drink tickets...might be a good idea for a group like that.
If you have a bunch of heavy drinkers and have an open bar, you'd better brace yourself for a difficult night. I've run open bars at wedding receptions and watched a couple hours into the event as the bride's father stood next to the bar agonizing as we poured each drink. I wouldn't leave wedding guests with that much control over the cost of my daughter's wedding.
When my daughter gets married I'll probably buy a couple kegs and put them out as “self-serve,” and give every guest a couple drink tickets so I can enjoy the night without much worry.
FWIW, we had a dry wedding reception. No booze. Everyone had a lovely time and got home okay :-)
I am 77 years old and have experienced several Weddings. I would not do the OPEN BAR because some people can’t handle much alcohol when it is Free and some drink too much - liability,etc.
Maybe two Drink Tickets per Guest and then let them buy there own.
This an important day for the Bride and Groom - don’t jeopardize it with a few drunks.
The 2 drink tickets provides another benefit. Liability reduction.
Let’s say you have an open bar and Joe gets hammered. Then Joe is stupid and attempts to drive home, plowing into a family and killing half of them. Or a house, or a bus, or a tree, only killing himself.
How often have we read lately that Joe (or his surviving family) then sues the bar or drink-providers for the damage he caused by being stupid?
If you only provide 2 drinks, your liability shrinks greatly.
He and his bro will be wearing the blues and I know he has the sword salute covered..... He is returning from AFG in Feb......thank you for the well wishes
I’ve been married twice. No alcohol served at either wedding. The freeloaders left early, our true friends stayed late!
I’ve been a four star hotel accountant for 25 years.
Your best bet is by-the-drink unless your guests are heavy drinkers. And it depends on the length of the reception.
I’d start with a host bar by the drink and give your guests two to four tickets each. Then they can buy tickets if they want more or get others tickets who aren’t drinking alcohol.
My experience has shown that almost ALL package plans don’t use up the liquor you are basically pre-paying for and can’t take with you.
Also, if the hotel has a lobby bar you’ll find many of your drinking guest headed there once the reception is slowing down if they still want to drink.
We need the age group involved.
Reputable hotels, like mine, set the hosts down and give them a consumption sheet showing the amount of liquor, beer and wine that is stocked at the beginning for the function.
We then show the end of night inventory to them and compute the consumption based on that. All functions are separate and have separate liquor “cages” to control the inventory.
If something needs to be added (ran out of a beer brand for example) we have the hosts sign and approve a transfer sheet to show the added booze.
Same for Aussies!
I firmly believe they can drink and expunge at the same time for long durations.
just serve champagne and beer for open bar, drinks by purchase
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