Budget Weddings

Open Bar Cost?

Hi there!  I'm looking to get an estimate as to what our open bar will cost.  The wedding is at Salem Cross Inn in Central MA and it's for 150 people (well, that's the "minimum" number of plates we have to pay for - likely we'll have 140 people show).  Bar is based on consumption.  Prices are as follows:


Mixed Drinks $6.00 to $8.50

Wine $6.00 to $8.00

Beer $4.00 to $7.00

These might go up slightly by the time we get married (it's in the contract for very minor price adjustments).  So for 140 people, some of which are *very heavy drinkers, while some are light drinkers, how much do you think we'll pay?  They estimated $30 per person but idk if that's $30pp plus tax and tip?  Then we're looking at almost $40 pp.  Ahh, I'm excited/nervous to hear what you guys think!  

Originally we were going to do just beer and wine but with the liquor prices where they are, maybe we'll do $6 signature cocktails to keep it a bit lower!

Thank you!!

Re: Open Bar Cost?

  • MRDCleMRDCle
    250 Love Its 100 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    member

    Hi there!  I'm looking to get an estimate as to what our open bar will cost.  The wedding is at Salem Cross Inn in Central MA and it's for 150 people (well, that's the "minimum" number of plates we have to pay for - likely we'll have 140 people show).  Bar is based on consumption.  Prices are as follows:


    Mixed Drinks $6.00 to $8.50

    Wine $6.00 to $8.00

    Beer $4.00 to $7.00

    These might go up slightly by the time we get married (it's in the contract for very minor price adjustments).  So for 140 people, some of which are *very heavy drinkers, while some are light drinkers, how much do you think we'll pay?  They estimated $30 per person but idk if that's $30pp plus tax and tip?  Then we're looking at almost $40 pp.  Ahh, I'm excited/nervous to hear what you guys think!  

    Originally we were going to do just beer and wine but with the liquor prices where they are, maybe we'll do $6 signature cocktails to keep it a bit lower!

    Thank you!!

    How long is your open bar going to be open? I think your venue should have a decent idea of how much it will be per person, so if they're saying $30 I would assume that's pretty close. I would assume personally that's before tax and gratuity. But, I would also double check that the gratuity is included when they give you a final price, or if you will need to tip the bartenders day of (we tipped ours a bit more on top of what they were tipped through the venue).
    short+sassyahoywedding
  • Thank you!  Yes, it's unclear on the tax and tip situation because they provided me with a full breakout estimate with tax and tip after food and then there's a lumped sum "$4,500" beverage deposit which is $30*150 people - the $30 seems low to me.  And the open bar would be for 5 hours - 1 hr cocktail and 4 hour reception.  We might need to just put a cap on it (GASP) because we just can't afford, say, a $7k bar tab - even 6 or 5. 

    Did the bartenders at your wedding have a tip jar out all night?  I'm curious as to how that is handled.  If I am tipping them 20% then I don't want my guests to feel obligated to tip and find cash for a tip jar to tip on top of what we are tipping.  Thank you!
  • MRDCleMRDCle
    250 Love Its 100 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    member
    We did not put out a tip jar.  A guest shouldn't be opening their wallet at an event you are hosting. Also, instead of capping the bar - definitely stick to a select group of cheaper beers/wines or do one signature drink.  
    ahoywedding
  • Check with your venue or caterer or whoever is providing the alcohol for an estimate. There are also party planning calculators (Total Wine has a good one) that help you estimate the number of each type of drink you'll need. Adjust as needed, if you know you have more friends who drink beer than wine, etc.

    No tip jar on the bar. You should tip enough to cover that, so your guests don't have to.

    And don't cap the bar. Provide what you can afford, for the entire length of your reception. If that's only beer & wine, that's totally fine! Our venue didn't allow liquor, so just had beer & wine. It's rude to your guests & poor hosting to not cover drinks the entire time. 
    charlotte989875ernursej
  • Your instincts are good, you don't want to have or allow them to have a tip jar out.

    I agree with the other PPs.  It would be rude to cap/stop the bar, so be careful to not put yourself in that position.

    To help keep bar costs lower, I would probably have only red and white wines available that are at the $6/glass cost.  As long as you have one red and one white, that's really all that's needed.  Same with the beers.  Have a few general favorites that are on the lower end of that range.

    The other suggestion of one or two signature drinks, where each drink would be $6, is another great one. 


    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • I'm guessing that your venue is probably doing a standard MA thing so you're paying per drink vs. an overall open bar cost, right?   From what I understand from my out of state family and friends this is fairly common.

    I think you should look at some drink calculators to look at an average # of drinks consumed based on the hours of your reception.  From there, factor that into your budget.

    I'll echo PPs that if you want to save, consider going w/ beer and wine only which can help shrink the tab.  Please don't cap it or try to switch.   When in doubt, factor that anyone of age who isn't pregnant will be drinking and go with that standard knowing that not everyone will follow it.  


  • I think most of the drink calculators out there figure each person of drinking age will have 1 drink per hour, plus one additional drink. That's on average, obviously, but not a bad way to guess at it. So if all your guests are able to drink, that's an average of 6 drinks per person and let's say the average price is $6 a drink... at $36 that's just a little more than they estimated for you. I might ask them to limit the selection to bring the average price down, i.e. no top shelf liquors, take the priciest wines and beers off the menu.
    image
    ernursejshort+sassy
  • banana468 said:
    I'm guessing that your venue is probably doing a standard MA thing so you're paying per drink vs. an overall open bar cost, right?   From what I understand from my out of state family and friends this is fairly common.

    I think you should look at some drink calculators to look at an average # of drinks consumed based on the hours of your reception.  From there, factor that into your budget.

    I'll echo PPs that if you want to save, consider going w/ beer and wine only which can help shrink the tab.  Please don't cap it or try to switch.   When in doubt, factor that anyone of age who isn't pregnant will be drinking and go with that standard knowing that not everyone will follow it.  

    As an aside, it's funny how the "norm" can be so different for different places, lol.  I used to plan company Christmas parties.  As such, I've seen how a couple dozen restaurants/hotels in the Greater New Orleans area handle large events.  I have NEVER seen a "per drink" set-up.  It's always a flat, per person charge, if a bar option is chosen.

    Usually with two bar options.  One per person charge for well drinks.  Or a higher per person charge for call drinks, ie more/better alcohol brands available for guests to choose from.

    I've also rarely seen a bar option choice with beer/wine only, but that could be because I never asked for it.  A company only having beer/wine at their Christmas party could cause a mutiny down in these parts, lol.  

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • banana468 said:
    I'm guessing that your venue is probably doing a standard MA thing so you're paying per drink vs. an overall open bar cost, right?   From what I understand from my out of state family and friends this is fairly common.

    I think you should look at some drink calculators to look at an average # of drinks consumed based on the hours of your reception.  From there, factor that into your budget.

    I'll echo PPs that if you want to save, consider going w/ beer and wine only which can help shrink the tab.  Please don't cap it or try to switch.   When in doubt, factor that anyone of age who isn't pregnant will be drinking and go with that standard knowing that not everyone will follow it.  

    As an aside, it's funny how the "norm" can be so different for different places, lol.  I used to plan company Christmas parties.  As such, I've seen how a couple dozen restaurants/hotels in the Greater New Orleans area handle large events.  I have NEVER seen a "per drink" set-up.  It's always a flat, per person charge, if a bar option is chosen.

    Usually with two bar options.  One per person charge for well drinks.  Or a higher per person charge for call drinks, ie more/better alcohol brands available for guests to choose from.

    I've also rarely seen a bar option choice with beer/wine only, but that could be because I never asked for it.  A company only having beer/wine at their Christmas party could cause a mutiny down in these parts, lol.  

    MA (especially western MA which we southern CT residents call anything that isn't Boston) has a reputation for having harder drinking laws and therefore more cash bars.  I've attended a few weddings for friends and family where we either faced the bait and switch bar that changed to cash at some point, that was cash the entire time or a notified switch that something like cocktails only would be cash.   That's about as much as I know about it other than hearing other people talk about how that's just the "norm" for how it's done.

    It's interesting because growing up in CT (and in Ffld County as my childhood), there was NO SUCH THING as a wedding that didn't have hosted alcohol.   Our wedding package included the bar as part of the deal.   

    The only times I've seen a beer / wine only event in that area are when the event was at a location that had everything brought in and had no actual stocked bar.    
Sign In or Register to comment.
Choose Another Board
Search Boards