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Food and Cakes

Wine on the Tables

So this is a ridiculous situation and probably a non-issue, but I wanted to get others' takes on it and also just vent a little.  I apologize for the length!

You know how in every wedding it feels like there is something that someone is just unnecessarily digging their heels in on?  That is the current situation with the issue of setting out wine on the tables for our seated dinner reception, of all things.  

I little background- FI's cousins own a vineyard/winery and generously offered us 50 bottles of whatever combinations of their wines we'd like to put on the tables for our wedding present.  Cool deal, right?  Our reception location usually does not allow outside wine to be brought in but agreed to make an exception for us- though there will still be a corkage fee.  Originally FI's parents agreed upfront to cover the corkage fee since this whole idea is kind of a "their family" thing, which was lovely of them and seemed very fair to me since my family is paying for the open bar (at which we're hosting other varieties of wine in addition to beer and house liquor).  Things were going well- my family was happy because having wine on the table would probably cut down on the open bar cost, his family was happy to incorporate such a unique touch from their side, and FI and I were happy to drink some good wine.  

Then we found out the corkage fee.  Don't ask me why we didn't find out about this earlier- FI was the one communicating with the venue about bringing in the wine and somehow neglected to ask.  It's $12.00 a bottle- seemed reasonable enough to me, but I have no point of reference for this sort of thing... at any rate, it's less expensive than any of the bottles that will be served at the bar so overall money is being saved.  I guess the issue is WHO'S money is being saved, since my family is paying for the bar and his for the wine on the tables.

FMIL and FFIL flipped out when they heard the price- "That is so ridiculous, there is no way we're paying that much for this" etc etc.  And they were like, personally affronted that FI and I were not shocked at the price.  I tried explaining to them- the venue doesn't normally allow people to bring in outside alcohol because they lose money on every drink someone drinks that isn't from their own stash, so the fee makes sense when you look at it from that point of view.  FMIL and FFIL continue to be insistent that we "negotiate the price down"- which again, I have tried explaining to them that we don't really have any leverage to negotiate on this because the venue already has our money for the deposit and they're doing us a favor by even letting us bring in our own alcohol.  It's just an uncomfortable situation because they told us they'd cover the corkage fee, we accepted the gift from FI's cousins, and now they are backing out, though FI and are aren't sure to what degree (we can't get a straight answer from them about that, more on that point in a minute).  The reality is that having this wine on the tables is going to cut down what my parents have to pay for the open bar, so my family has said if FMIL and FFIL really don't want to pay, they'll just pay because it'll save them money overall... which is a reasonable enough solution, I just kind of resent that my parents should have to do that (maybe that's just be being petty).

So the real problem is that FFIL and FMIL won't say if/what they are willing to cover at this point.  Since they offered to cover the fee initially we know there is some amount of money there that at one point they were willing to allot for this- the problem we have consistently run into throughout this whole process is that they will only pay for things they want at the price they want.  Okay that actual sounds more reasonable written out than it did in my head, let me try to explain- they offer to spend thousands of dollars on a fancy photographer, for example, and don't get me wrong, we appreciate the offer, but FI and I gently try to suggest that you know what, Uncle So-and-So takes great pictures and would do it for free but where that money would REALLY help is to cover some of the cost of the dinner (or something along those lines)... but they don't care about paying for that so the money isn't there for that.  I know, I know it's their money and I'm being horribly selfish for wanting to dictate where and how it's spent, but maybe y'all can understand from an emotional point of view where that's just a little bit frustrating.  So anyway, the issue now is that they don't want to pay for the wine "at this price" so I suggested just cover whatever you were anticipating having to pay initially and FI and I or my family will cover the rest... but it's like, to them it's the principal of paying for something "at this price" and so they aren't sure if they want any of their money to go towards it now.  I told FI I feel awkward about it and at this point I would just prefer we pay for this ourselves, which he told them and they got SO worked up and offended... and yet still did not commit to if/how much they can cover and still just wanted us to "negotiate" on the price (which TBH is not something we have time for).  It pains me because we really could use their help on this- FI and I didn't budget for this because originally we were just going with the open bar that my parents offered to pay for, so it would be hard for us to come up with the money.  My parents can pay for it if it comes to it, but I know there's going to be some bad feelings there as they are paying for the entire wedding and reception as it is and I know they really appreciated the gesture of FI's family covering this one thing, so they are non-plussed about the offer being revoked.  We've already accepted the gift of the wine from the cousins so I don't want to be like "JK take it back, your gift was too much hassle".  AGH frustrating!!!

Side note question relating to this whole vent: FI and I wanted to put two bottles of red and two bottles of white on each of the eight tables we're having... FMIL and FFIL also think this is crazy and we should just do one of each and people ask for more if they need more.  I think this just looks kind of stingy and am worried about the logistics of people having to flag down servers to get more wine, but I might just be over-thinking this so I'm wonder what you all usually see done?  

Okay end of vent/rant... feel free to chime in with advice or whatever, if you've read through this entire mundane problem post you are a real trooper :).









    




Re: Wine on the Tables

  • Summary: Your venue is making an exception by letting you bring in your own wine for the table. The wine is a gift from your FI's side of the house and they offered to pay the corkage fee, until they found out it was $12/bottle. Now you don't know if they're willing to pay it or not. You think it's petty because your parents are paying for the full, open bar.



    My advice: Tell your FILs - "The venue is making an exception by letting us bring in this wine. That's their corkage fee. We tried to get it down, but they're making an exception, so we don't have any negotiating power. We don't like it, but that's what it is. At this point, y'all can either move forward with the wine or we can just do the bar. It's up to you and we want you to know we are fine either way." Then Let. It. Go.
    *********************************************************************************

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    themosthappy91MesmrEwepeachy13
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    How will having wine on the table cut down on the open bar cost?  Are you paying by consumption or by a per person rate?  If you are doing a per person rate then having wine on the table will have zero bearing on the bar cost.

    If your FILs don't want to pay the corkage cost because they believe it is too high (probably should have found out the price before they committed to anything) then that is their right and you and your FI should cover the cost instead.

    The only other thing you can do is tell the cousins that the venue will not allow outside beverages and see if they could instead provide the wine at the RD if possible.

    If you do go with the wine for the wedding you need to have at least 2 bottles of each type on the tables.  A bottle of wine holds about 5 glasses of wine and that is if it is being poured by a bartender.  If I am pouring it then it will be more like 3.5-4 glasses depending on the size glass. And since you won't know what type of wine people will want to drink you don't want the entire table to want white wine and only half the table get it and the other half have to find someone to ask for another bottle.

    themosthappy91
  • jacques27jacques27 member
    Knottie Warrior 500 Love Its 1000 Comments 5 Answers
    edited October 2014
    Admittedly, I stopped reading halfway through.  Sorry. 

    I'm mostly chiming in to say that $12/bottle is extremely cheap when it comes to a corkage fee.  Extremely.  If you go to a nice restaurant, you will be very hard pressed to find a corkage fee for less than $20, I would say average for a nice restaurant in a large metropolitan area is $35-45, and I've seen them as high as $80 (though I've heard the corkage fee at Per Se in NY is $150/bottle).  Here in the Midwest at mid-range restaurants it's usually $15-20.

    Perhaps looking up corkage fees at restaurants in your part of the country might help them put the cost in perspective?  If your open bar is based on consumption rather than per person, then this is really quite reasonable and may save money and if they have something to compare it to in order to put it into perspective they could change their minds.  However, If your open bar is just calculated on a flat per person rate though, then it's a wash and honestly just not worth the hassle, imo.
    themosthappy91MesmrEwe
  • jacques27 said:
    Admittedly, I stopped reading halfway through.  Sorry. 

    I'm mostly chiming in to say that $12/bottle is extremely cheap when it comes to a corkage fee.  Extremely.  If you go to a nice restaurant, you will be very hard pressed to find a corkage fee for less than $20, I would say average for a nice restaurant in a large metropolitan area is $35-45, and I've seen them as high as $80 (though I've heard the corkage fee at Per Se in NY is $150/bottle).  Here in the Midwest at mid-range restaurants it's usually $15-20.

    Perhaps looking up corkage fees at restaurants in your part of the country might help them put the cost in perspective?  If your open bar is based on consumption rather than per person, then this is really quite reasonable and may save money and if they have something to compare it to in order to put it into perspective they could change their minds.  However, If your open bar is just calculated on a flat per person rate though, then it's a wash and honestly just not worth the hassle, imo.
    To the bolded- that's what I thought too, though admittedly I don't have as much knowledge on the subject!

    Also ugh, with all I wrote I forgot to say that yes, we're having a consumption bar so it really will impact the final bill for that if we have wine on the table.  

    Also @Maggie, I LOLed at your frank analysis of how many glasses are in a bottle when you're pouring- I'm the same! I like my wine, what can I say... but yeah, the way FILs wanted to do it was have additional wine available for the situation that you described (like if everyone at the table wants red, for example) but they'd have to ask for it... and I'd just rather that onus wasn't on the guests, you know?  

    Anyway, I just can't believe how much of my life this dumb issue has taken in the past few days, it's just one of those things where it feels like FILs will not be happy with any outcome short of us miraculously negotiating a lower price.  The don't want to pay, they get mad when we tell them not to pay.  There's just no pleasing some people I guess.  
    MesmrEwe
  • IMO - if your parents end up paying for it, you take the wine off of your open bar until the table wines are used up since they're already paying the corking fee for those.  Just drop it with the IL's because there's very little they can do (The $12 may SEEM high, but I'm guessing what you've said of the venue they aren't exactly going to hand you red plastic cups for said wine to be served in, there's a cost to placing out and then cleaning each and every wine glass utilized!!! Let alone the cost of putting the wine bottles out and corking them).. 
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    themosthappy91
  • I don't think it would be tacky to have one white and one red on the table initially, then let the servers replenish as needed.  I was at a $250/plate benefit recently and there was one of each.  We ended up drinking all the white and having it replenished, but the whole bottle of red didn't get finished.  Probably because it was seafood, but anyway...  That could reduce the cost a little bit.
    themosthappy91
  • Update: FMIL is actually taking off work on Friday morning and insisting FI and I accompany her to meet with our coordinator at the reception venue to try to negotiate about this.  I told FI it's fine if he wants to go with her and if by some stroke of luck they can "negotiate" that's great, but I have expended all the time and energy on this issue that I have the capacity for and will not be going with them.  

    Forgive me if this sounds bratty, but this is just so stupid- $12 x 32 bottles MAX (four on each of eight tables) = $384.  I understand to some people that would be a lot and that's totally respectable, but on the scale of this wedding it is not a lot and I can't believe we are still quibbling over it.
    MesmrEwe
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Update: FMIL is actually taking off work on Friday morning and insisting FI and I accompany her to meet with our coordinator at the reception venue to try to negotiate about this.  I told FI it's fine if he wants to go with her and if by some stroke of luck they can "negotiate" that's great, but I have expended all the time and energy on this issue that I have the capacity for and will not be going with them.  

    Forgive me if this sounds bratty, but this is just so stupid- $12 x 32 bottles MAX (four on each of eight tables) = $384.  I understand to some people that would be a lot and that's totally respectable, but on the scale of this wedding it is not a lot and I can't believe we are still quibbling over it.
    Honestly?  Paying $384 for someone to pop corks out of wine bottles is completely ridiculous to me (kind of like having to pay a cake cutting fee if you don't use the venues preferred baker) and I would be pissed about spending that as well.

    But I think it is great that you aren't going to the negotiation meeting.  Let your FI handle this because it is his Mom.

    themosthappy91
  • Update: FMIL is actually taking off work on Friday morning and insisting FI and I accompany her to meet with our coordinator at the reception venue to try to negotiate about this.  I told FI it's fine if he wants to go with her and if by some stroke of luck they can "negotiate" that's great, but I have expended all the time and energy on this issue that I have the capacity for and will not be going with them.  

    Forgive me if this sounds bratty, but this is just so stupid- $12 x 32 bottles MAX (four on each of eight tables) = $384.  I understand to some people that would be a lot and that's totally respectable, but on the scale of this wedding it is not a lot and I can't believe we are still quibbling over it.
    Honestly?  Paying $384 for someone to pop corks out of wine bottles is completely ridiculous to me (kind of like having to pay a cake cutting fee if you don't use the venues preferred baker) and I would be pissed about spending that as well.

    But I think it is great that you aren't going to the negotiation meeting.  Let your FI handle this because it is his Mom.
    Yeah when you put it that way, I can see your point... though in this case it does include setting out the wine, uncorking them as needed (meaning obviously if we have four bottles on the table to begin with they can't just uncork them all at the start because that would end up wasting a lot of wine), pouring them for our guests, and making sure all the tables stay stocked... so it IS a little more work than just opening them all up before dinner or something.  But really I'm looking at the price more as a way to make up what they're losing by us not drinking that amount of wine from their bar rather than a fee for the labor involved... I guess at this point my feeling is okay, everyone has different perceptions of what different things are actually worth paying a certain amount for, so since FI and I are more comfortable with the price at this point then they are I wish we could just pay for it and be done!  Anyway I'll let you all know the outcome of Friday's negotiation meeting...
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    No, understand why they charge what they do I just think that price is ridiculously high.  Yeah they don't uncork them all at once but $12 to uncork a bottle and place it on the table?  Um, that is ridiculous in my opinion and that is probably what your FMIL is thinking as well.

    In the end though, your FMIL isn't saving any money on this.  Your parents are the one's saving the money because then your bar bill will be lower.  So your FMIL is putting out money to save your parents money.  Some people aren't always happy about that.

    And why can't you and your FI just pay for the corking fee?  That seems like it would solve all your issues.

    cotton8744
  • That's what we've repeatedly said we want to do!  But FMIL in particular got so upset- like she is super insistent that she wants to pay for this, she just wants it to cost less.  That's how we ultimately got to the point that she is going to go meet with the venue coordinator- because I said we would be happy to just pay for it, she slightly freaked out and was like "That's ridiculous, your father and I really want to cover this" and I was just like "... well I mean we really don't mind paying for it, seriously..." but she was upset that I wouldn't go try to negotiate with them in person, at which point I told FI that if negotiating the price matters this much to her and/or him, they can be the ones to go do it.  So I'm sure she's not happy with me but I just really don't feel comfortable begging them to take the price down when 1) I think it's very unlikely that they actually will and 2) the venue has been super nice to us in the form of giving us discounts on tons of other stuff so I just really don't want to push this.  

    She keeps being like "We've given them so much of our money already [at which I slightly roll my eyes because she hasn't given them one red cent of her money, it's all come from my parents], they MUST be able to do something for us about this!".  It's not like I can walk into Target and be like "You know what?  I've spent so much money here over the years, I think I should just be able to take some stuff for half-off today", so I just don't see why she thinks this would work like that either.    
  • One can only hope when she gets there that they explain the breakdown of the corking fee to her that it's not an arbitrary number and not negotiable - same goes for "cutting fees" charged for cake/desserts at many venues.  Like you've said - there's a lot going in to it - though you forgot to mention the glass that said wines will be poured into, the person to put them on the tables, and the person to wash them after someone has had a sip.  A dishwasher needs to make a living too..

    I agree with your choice to not go along - seems silly to waste a day of work/pay to negotiate something that isn't out of touch with the expenses of a bottle of wine, whether the venue provides it or not.

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  • I find this corking fee extremely high when you already have an open bar inclusive of wine AND you're already paying them to cater your event. There's no extra work being done here. They'd have to uncork their own bottles of wine behind the bar. It just doesn't make sense in this situation. They are "nickel-and-dime"-ing you. I understand your ILs objection on principle. 

    How about giving the bottles of wine as favors instead? or using them at RD as suggested by pp.
    Maggie0829
  • The "corking fee" covers everything they're doing with their own bottles and would otherwise be worked into the per glass/bottle price of the wine.  The cost of a drink isn't the alcohol it's the person to cork it, serve it, the glass to drink it from, the person to clean the glass it was consumed from, and dispose of the empty bottle when the event is complete (the garbage guy doesn't work for free!).  While I like the idea of giving them as a favor - if I was the family that gave my other family member the wine to serve, I'd be peeved to see that happen!!!
    I find this corking fee extremely high when you already have an open bar inclusive of wine AND you're already paying them to cater your event. There's no extra work being done here. They'd have to uncork their own bottles of wine behind the bar. It just doesn't make sense in this situation. They are "nickel-and-dime"-ing you. I understand your ILs objection on principle. 

    How about giving the bottles of wine as favors instead? or using them at RD as suggested by pp.

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  • MesmrEwe said:
    The "corking fee" covers everything they're doing with their own bottles and would otherwise be worked into the per glass/bottle price of the wine.  The cost of a drink isn't the alcohol it's the person to cork it, serve it, the glass to drink it from, the person to clean the glass it was consumed from, and dispose of the empty bottle when the event is complete (the garbage guy doesn't work for free!).  While I like the idea of giving them as a favor - if I was the family that gave my other family member the wine to serve, I'd be peeved to see that happen!!!
    I find this corking fee extremely high when you already have an open bar inclusive of wine AND you're already paying them to cater your event. There's no extra work being done here. They'd have to uncork their own bottles of wine behind the bar. It just doesn't make sense in this situation. They are "nickel-and-dime"-ing you. I understand your ILs objection on principle. 

    How about giving the bottles of wine as favors instead? or using them at RD as suggested by pp.

    If it's consumption based, then yes I agree. If it's open bar charged per person, these bar-specific services are already paid for.
    Maggie0829
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    That's what we've repeatedly said we want to do!  But FMIL in particular got so upset- like she is super insistent that she wants to pay for this, she just wants it to cost less.  That's how we ultimately got to the point that she is going to go meet with the venue coordinator- because I said we would be happy to just pay for it, she slightly freaked out and was like "That's ridiculous, your father and I really want to cover this" and I was just like "... well I mean we really don't mind paying for it, seriously..." but she was upset that I wouldn't go try to negotiate with them in person, at which point I told FI that if negotiating the price matters this much to her and/or him, they can be the ones to go do it.  So I'm sure she's not happy with me but I just really don't feel comfortable begging them to take the price down when 1) I think it's very unlikely that they actually will and 2) the venue has been super nice to us in the form of giving us discounts on tons of other stuff so I just really don't want to push this.  

    She keeps being like "We've given them so much of our money already [at which I slightly roll my eyes because she hasn't given them one red cent of her money, it's all come from my parents], they MUST be able to do something for us about this!".  It's not like I can walk into Target and be like "You know what?  I've spent so much money here over the years, I think I should just be able to take some stuff for half-off today", so I just don't see why she thinks this would work like that either.    
    I really think your FI should just tell his Mom very firmly that you and he are going to cover the cost. She is making a mountain out of a mole hill and will most likely end up pissing your venue off.

    themosthappy91southernbelle0915
  • MesmrEwe said:
    The "corking fee" covers everything they're doing with their own bottles and would otherwise be worked into the per glass/bottle price of the wine.  The cost of a drink isn't the alcohol it's the person to cork it, serve it, the glass to drink it from, the person to clean the glass it was consumed from, and dispose of the empty bottle when the event is complete (the garbage guy doesn't work for free!).  While I like the idea of giving them as a favor - if I was the family that gave my other family member the wine to serve, I'd be peeved to see that happen!!!
    I find this corking fee extremely high when you already have an open bar inclusive of wine AND you're already paying them to cater your event. There's no extra work being done here. They'd have to uncork their own bottles of wine behind the bar. It just doesn't make sense in this situation. They are "nickel-and-dime"-ing you. I understand your ILs objection on principle. 

    How about giving the bottles of wine as favors instead? or using them at RD as suggested by pp.

    If it's consumption based, then yes I agree. If it's open bar charged per person, these bar-specific services are already paid for.

    SITB: Yes it is a consumption bar- that's why I really do understand why they are asking for this amount for the fee.  And as others have mentioned, $12 actually seems on the relatively low-end of what places would normally charge for a corkage fee in this kind of situation.  MesmrEwe, the way you put it really captures why I'm not sweating the fee- I feel confident that the majority of it is going towards the servers and dishwashers etc, so having worked as a server myself I really don't begrudge them the money.  

    I wouldn't feel comfortable giving away the wine as a favor to our guests since it was a gift to us in the first place, but we are using all the bottles we don't put on the table (they're giving us 50 and if we have four on each table that only equals 32) at the rehearsal dinner.
  • Update: So FI and FMIL went over there this morning, and much as I suspected the corkage fee was non-negotiable.  But FI reports that even though she was still somewhat complain-y to him about this fact, she is much happier now overall and said she definitely wants to pay for this.  I guess to her she just couldn't live with not at least trying to bring the price down, which okay, whatever floats your boat I guess.

    The other reason she is now more okay with this arrangement is the way our venue proposed doing the wine service- we would have "display bottles" on each table so people could look at what their options are, but the bottles on the tables won't actually be opened (at least initially)- they are going to have 10 servers working our event who will just go around asking each person what they would like and if they need a refill throughout the dinner.  So overall less bottles will be opened since bottles aren't being poured on a "per table" basis, if that makes sense!  And I think 10 servers should be enough to make sure everyone gets their wine and their food in a timely manner.  

    Anyway, thanks for listening to me gripe and giving me some additional perspectives, y'all!
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Update: So FI and FMIL went over there this morning, and much as I suspected the corkage fee was non-negotiable.  But FI reports that even though she was still somewhat complain-y to him about this fact, she is much happier now overall and said she definitely wants to pay for this.  I guess to her she just couldn't live with not at least trying to bring the price down, which okay, whatever floats your boat I guess.

    The other reason she is now more okay with this arrangement is the way our venue proposed doing the wine service- we would have "display bottles" on each table so people could look at what their options are, but the bottles on the tables won't actually be opened (at least initially)- they are going to have 10 servers working our event who will just go around asking each person what they would like and if they need a refill throughout the dinner.  So overall less bottles will be opened since bottles aren't being poured on a "per table" basis, if that makes sense!  And I think 10 servers should be enough to make sure everyone gets their wine and their food in a timely manner.  

    Anyway, thanks for listening to me gripe and giving me some additional perspectives, y'all!
    So the only way to get a glass of wine at your wedding would be to fine a server and ask for one? So, say I was a guest, I wouldn't just be able to go up to the bar and get a glass of wine?  Or would they also have the wine at the bar?  I am just thinking logistically here and think that it would be weird if I could go to the bar to get any drink I want, but a glass of wine, but if I want a glass of wine I need to go to a server to get one.  What if someone asks a server to get them a gin and tonic?  Would the server get them that drink or are the servers only for the wine?

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