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We want alcohol, but not many of our guests drink

Hi all! I'm running into an interesting dilemma that I can't seem to find anyone else asking about. My fiance and I both enjoy drinking socially (and so do most of our friends), however not very many people on either of our families drink at all. Both families are Christian and not opposed to alcohol, but they just in general don't drink (neither of us have ever been to a wedding that served alcohol). 

Additionally, we both hate beer and strongly prefer mixed drinks over any type of wine. In order to offer mixed drinks we would pretty much need to pay for a full bar or possibly several signature cocktails. This wouldn't be a crazy problem, except the majority of those attending our wedding don't actually drink, and so I feel like it would be a HUGE waste of money to pay for an open bar/wine, beer, and signature cocktails for a 250 person event, when most people will choose not to partake. 

The bar-tending service we've been looking at has you purchase the alcohol (for licensing reasons) and they purchase the mixers etc, if we went with them what number of guests should I pay for/how much of each kind of alcohol (wine, beer, liquor) should we buy? We're having a roughly 250 person wedding, however I can guarantee that AT LEAST 150, but likely more, will not be drinking. I don't want under-purchase, but I also don't want to pay for 100 extra people who won't be drinking. 

We have also considered offering ONLY a selection of signature cocktails (since it's what we like anyway and that would cut down on the speculation), but we're unsure about how that would come across. We're having an evening wedding (so more drinking friendly), and we're not sure if people would but upset/disappointed that they couldn't order beer/wine (since usually they are the more guaranteed "standard" beverages offered at bars). 

Any thoughts or advice, particularly on whether or not only offering 2-4 signature cocktails would seem strange/would be unpopular, will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading!

Re: We want alcohol, but not many of our guests drink

  • Hi all! I'm running into an interesting dilemma that I can't seem to find anyone else asking about. My fiance and I both enjoy drinking socially (and so do most of our friends), however not very many people on either of our families drink at all. Both families are Christian and not opposed to alcohol, but they just in general don't drink (neither of us have ever been to a wedding that served alcohol). 

    Additionally, we both hate beer and strongly prefer mixed drinks over any type of wine. In order to offer mixed drinks we would pretty much need to pay for a full bar or possibly several signature cocktails. This wouldn't be a crazy problem, except the majority of those attending our wedding don't actually drink, and so I feel like it would be a HUGE waste of money to pay for an open bar/wine, beer, and signature cocktails for a 250 person event, when most people will choose not to partake. 

    The bar-tending service we've been looking at has you purchase the alcohol (for licensing reasons) and they purchase the mixers etc, if we went with them what number of guests should I pay for/how much of each kind of alcohol (wine, beer, liquor) should we buy? We're having a roughly 250 person wedding, however I can guarantee that AT LEAST 150, but likely more, will not be drinking. I don't want under-purchase, but I also don't want to pay for 100 extra people who won't be drinking. 

    We have also considered offering ONLY a selection of signature cocktails (since it's what we like anyway and that would cut down on the speculation), but we're unsure about how that would come across. We're having an evening wedding (so more drinking friendly), and we're not sure if people would but upset/disappointed that they couldn't order beer/wine (since usually they are the more guaranteed "standard" beverages offered at bars). 

    Any thoughts or advice, particularly on whether or not only offering 2-4 signature cocktails would seem strange/would be unpopular, will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading!

    I am not a big fan of signature cocktails because they are often too sweet for me. I would definitely try to serve some selection of beer and wine.

    We purchased all the alcohol for our wedding and sought the advice of our local wine/ liquor shop. They were able to help guide us as to how many bottles of what we needed. Many places will buy back unused bottles.
    short+sassyeileenrobahoywedding
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    I would absolutely offer beer/wine. You may not enjoy them, but most casual drinkers do, especially when the mixed drink selection is limited. Choose a 2-3 options of each that are generally crowd pleasers, and make sure you can take the extra with you. You can always take the extras along to parties or offer to future house guests if you aren't able to return them.  

    Also, for people who normally don't drink much liquor, it's sometimes hard to gauge how much alcohol is in a mixed drink, especially something sugary. They might end up a big more buzzed than planned. As a seasoned wine drinker, I'll admit that a restaurant margarita has caught me off guard before. 

    For calculating what to buy, party and liquor store calculators do a good job of telling you how much you'll need. When you factor in your guest count, just count everyone on your list that absolutely doesn't drink like you'd count a minor. 


    short+sassylevioosaeileenrobahoywedding
  • Could you bring in all your own and work with a store to return what remains unopened and then pay a corkage fee / bartending fee?

    I would definitely serve beer and wine and wouldn't go with a mixed drink only.   I'll echo the others that as I age I don't want a sweet drink and often go for beverages that aren't as sweet tasting.  

    I'd think that buy buying your own you can control cost.  Are you sure that the families wouldn't drink at all or that they just may drink a lot less? 
    ahoyweddingSTARMOON44
  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    A note for the OP and lurkers- just because you hate something doesn't mean all your guests do. Since the reception is to thank them for attending your wedding, it's best to consider what guests would like. Out of 100 drinkers on your guest list, I'm positive not all of them would like cocktails as the only alcoholic option. Find some crowd-pleasing beer and wine options. 
    ________________________________


    downtondivaahoyweddingmaine7mob
  • I agree that, while it is fine to have a reception without alcohol, if there is alcohol, there should at least be beer and wine.  A lot more people drink beer/wine as compared to cocktails.  It's fine to just have a few signature cocktails.

    For the non-drinker crowd, I'd subtract people from the count that you know completely abstain from alcohol.  But then I'd include a "fudge factor" for the others in that group and assume each person may have 1-2 drinks.

    My parents were like that.  They weren't tea-totalers, but they hardly ever drank anything alcoholic.  We generally didn't have beer/wine/liquor in the house at all.  But, if they were at a special event like a wedding, my mom would usually have one glass of wine and my dad would have 1-2 beers.   

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  • I agree with PPs to find a liquor store to which you can return unopened bottles if you don't want to keep them for yourself. You should definitely have some beer and wine options. I agree that I'm not a fan of sweet signature cocktails  but it could be a know your crowd thing as far as that is concerned. DD and SIL had one sweeter and one not sweet one, a full open bar (with beer and wine). Everyone was happy.  They could also return unopened bottles to the liquor store. 
    ahoyweddingcharlotte989875
  • I also think you should have beer and wine - even limited options. I rarely go to a wedding (and we go to a lot) where I order a specific varietal of wine - I usually just order "red wine" unless there are options listed somewhere. My point is - I think if you have one each of red wine, white wine, light beer, and other beer (wheat, darker, ipa) plus the few cocktails you like I think you will make 99% of drinkers happy.
    short+sassyahoywedding
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    Wine and beer are a must. By all means, have the signature cocktails, but also provide the wine and beer. 


    image
    ahoyweddingcharlotte989875
  • Does your venue/caterer offer a consumption bar?  It’s different than an open bar (where you’re charged $x per person regardless of who drinks and how much) where you’re literally paying for what’s ordered.  May be less than buying everything yourself + corkage fee.  

    If that’s not an option I ditto PP to a) buy your own, using a liquor store that will accept returns and b) absolutely offer wine and beer.  I hate beer but it was flowing like water at my wedding.
    ahoyweddingSTARMOON44charlotte989875
  • levioosa said:
    Wine and beer are a must. By all means, have the signature cocktails, but also provide the wine and beer. 
    Also, the more I think about this only having some kind of sweeter signature cocktail is way to reminiscent of early college when the 'signature cocktail' was created because it was cheaper.    

    I know that's not the intent of a signature cocktail but if that's all that was offered it would remind me of a dorm party. 
  • I would avoid any vendor that makes you pay a flat fee per guest for alcohol, especially when many of your guests won't drink at all. Your best bet is a hosted (per drink) bar, as @eileenrob suggested, in which you only pay for what your guests actually drink. Often you will be charged for soda, too, if you go this route, but your total bill will be FAR less than if you pay a flat fee.

    Even if you have some heavy drinkers in your crowd, there is no way they will drink enough to justify paying a set fee for every single guest. And the non-drinker who orders 5 diet cokes is still not going to make the flat fee worth your while. You'd be paying, say, $15 for those cokes, vs a $45 or more flat fee, which was what they charged at our venue.

    The per consumption bar is is what we did with our daughter's wedding a few months ago. I agonized over the flat fee thing, but we decided to chance it and just pay per drink. We offered beer, wine, Prosecco, and a few signature cocktails, not a full bar. We also had a lot of non-drinking Christians.

    I agree with the recommendation to offer beer and wine, even if you don't drink them. People who only drink on special occasions are more likely to drink one beer or one glass of wine than they are to drink hard liquor (especially if they are Baptists or Methodists) because they think it will be less potent.
    short+sassy
  • I agree with everyone that when deciding what alcohol to serve, you need to take into consideration what your guests might want, not just what you like. Personally, I love wine and some beers; there are only a few mixed drinks that I actually like (generally very simple ones that aren't too sweet). If you had only signature cocktails, someone like me might have a hard time finding something they would enjoy.
    image
    short+sassy
  • Have mixed Mocktails available for your NA guests!  Publicize that they're NA for those mixers!  They're a step up from soda and if you've got to find a way to meet the minimum with primarily NA guests, have NA mixed drinks to fill the minimums! (I say this with extreme bias as I'm a teetotaler)..

    Go ahead and have the bar service!  Yes, have bottled beer and selective wine available.  As mentioned above, I don't drink, most of my family doesn't as well, and I really did want a "dry" wedding but we did have a full bar service available. 
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