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open bar or pay per drink?

We are debating between an open bar and the pay per drink option. The open bar is $18 per person for 4 hours. If we do pay per drink we can bring our own wine and champagne for $7 corkage fee per bottle, and beers are $5-6 per drink. We are undecided on doing any hard alcohol for the pay per drink option, just worried it will get a little too expensive. We have about 120-140 guests, and I'd say a normal amount of drinkers. FI's friends drink a lot especially if it's free, my friends drink a normal amount, his family is on the lighter side of drinkers and my family is a little bit on the heavier side of drinking.
Our venue suggested the pay per drink option and said that it was almost always a better deal... which I'm worried isn't the case. If you think about $3 per glass of wine or $6 per beer, is that really less than just the $18 per person for it to be unlimited?

Re: open bar or pay per drink?

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    By "pay per drink" do you mean that the venue will charge you for each drink consumed?  That might not be a bad deal.

    If you mean "guests pay for their drinks" don't go for it.  It's rude.  Guests should not be expected to cover any of the costs.
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    With those prices, unless more than half your guest list doesn't drink at all, I don't see how you would save any money. Someone only needs to have 4 drinks to end up costing more money. I am by no means a heavy drinker, but I usually end up with 3 or 4 glasses of wine at a wedding, because you put your glass down and it gets cleared away.
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    At those prices, I would go for the flat rate.  They say that the average guest had 2 drinks in the first hour and one drink for each hour after that.  (This accounts for the drinks that get cleared, lost, too.)  That's about 5 per person.  Doing the math, flat rate is cheaper.

    It's also worth considering the hassle you'd save by not having to buy and brings stuff, and that you won't have to worry about what the bar tab is going to be at the end of the night.  
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_open-bar-or-pay-per-drink?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:5Discussion:ac47f779-3d3d-4e39-9304-aed901664c0fPost:4a9ffe37-831f-4218-aa35-9debeac49d83">Re: open bar or pay per drink?</a>:
    [QUOTE]By "pay per drink" do you mean that the venue will charge you for each drink consumed?  That might not be a bad deal. If you mean "guests pay for their drinks" don't go for it.  It's rude.  Guests should not be expected to cover any of the costs.
    Posted by Jen4948[/QUOTE]

    Meaning the venue will charge us for each drink consumed. Guests will not be paying either way.
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    I would just go with the open bar. Those individual prices seem a little high, especially for those who tend to drink more.
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    Ditto PP got with the flat fee.  Otherwise it's only 4 drinks per person before it costs you more money.  On average plan for 2 drinks per person the first hour and 1 drink afterwards.
     
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    The venue may be pushing the consumption bar as the "better deal" because it is the one in which they make more money. Unless you have a tiny guest list or a guest list full of light/non-drinkers (which it sounds like neither fits your wedding), I would pay the flat per-person fee.
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    I vote for open bar for a couple reasons

    1) People tend to drink more at a wedding and have no issue with "just walking away" and getting a new drink. an average person might end up orderin more drinks than they actually drink so that might end up just wasting a lot of money

    2)How can you REALLY know you aren't getting overcharged for drinks nobody ever even received. It really is on the "honor" system of the bar tender...


    Unless you CLEARLY no the majority of your guests do not drink, I think the flat fee is the smart move overall
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_open-bar-or-pay-per-drink?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:5Discussion:ac47f779-3d3d-4e39-9304-aed901664c0fPost:906051bf-eb68-4b05-9155-0674b164b605">Re: open bar or pay per drink?</a>:
    [QUOTE]I vote for open bar for a couple reasons 1) People tend to drink more at a wedding and have no issue with "just walking away" and getting a new drink. an average person might end up orderin more drinks than they actually drink so that might end up just wasting a lot of money 2)How can you REALLY know you aren't getting overcharged for drinks nobody ever even received. It really is on the "honor" system of the bar tender... Unless you CLEARLY no the majority of your guests do not drink, I think the flat fee is the smart move overall
    Posted by loca4pook[/QUOTE]

    <div>Agreed! I also would feel better knowing exactly how much I was going to owe ahead of time so I could factor it into the budget. </div>
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_open-bar-or-pay-per-drink?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:5Discussion:ac47f779-3d3d-4e39-9304-aed901664c0fPost:2cf235bd-a7fe-46bc-bb67-9360801209b8">Re: open bar or pay per drink?</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: open bar or pay per drink? : Meaning the venue will charge us for each drink consumed. Guests will not be paying either way.
    Posted by lizap77[/QUOTE]

    Thanks for clarifying.  It sounds like the flat fee might be your best bet.
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    depends on your guestlist-- we are doing per consumption and will pay "the tab" the next day but that is because about 1/3 of our guest list does not drink, so we did not want to pay $20/person if 30 people will not be drinking alcohol (non alcoholic drinks are all included in our meal fee). 
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    The $18 open bar seems like the best, most cost-effective choice.

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    I also think it depends on how many drinks you think your guests will have. One of the things we liked about our venue was that we only pay for the alcohol consumed, not a flat rate. But that's because over half of our guest list is my family or kids, and most of my family doesn't drink or will only drink a little.

    Is the $18 per person for a full open bar? If you are looking to save money, you could always do beer and wine only, or maybe plus one signature drink. This is what we're doing because most people who drink like one or the other.
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    Maggie0829Maggie0829 member
    First Anniversary First Answer First Comment 5 Love Its
    edited March 2013
    I would go with the flat rate.  Think about it if one guest drinks 3 beers, which is very probable, you have already hit your flat rate for that guest.  What if that same guest decides to drink 3 more beers.  Then you are basically paying double the flat rate for one guest.

    Honestly, I think the prices for pay by consumption are a bit high.  I mean, $6 for a bottle of beer?  That is insane.  H and I pay $4 a bottle when we go to the bar.

    Go with the flat rate.  Your venue is pushing the pay by consumption for a reason and that reason is because they will make more money off of that option.

    Also think about the weddings you have been to.  Have you ever gotten a drink, took a few sips and then put it down to run to the bathroom, only to get back and forget about it or it was cleared away by the staff?  You will be surprised how many drinks people get themselves because they have either misplaced them or put them down and walked away without thinking.  That is a lot of wasted alcohol you will have to pay for.

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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_open-bar-or-pay-per-drink?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:5Discussion:ac47f779-3d3d-4e39-9304-aed901664c0fPost:f7bcb20e-12d0-47cb-8bbb-9b62241fb9a2">open bar or pay per drink?</a>:
    [QUOTE]We are debating between an open bar and the pay per drink option. The open bar is $18 per person for 4 hours. If we do pay per drink we can bring our own wine and champagne for $7 corkage fee per bottle, and beers are $5-6 per drink. We are undecided on doing any hard alcohol for the pay per drink option, just worried it will get a little too expensive. We have about 120-140 guests, and I'd say a normal amount of drinkers. FI's friends drink a lot especially if it's free, my friends drink a normal amount, his family is on the lighter side of drinkers and my family is a little bit on the heavier side of drinking. Our venue suggested the pay per drink option and said that it was almost always a better deal... which I'm worried isn't the case. <u><em>If you think about $3 per glass of wine or $6 per beer, is that really less than just the $18 per person for it to be unlimited?
    </em></u>Posted by lizap77[/QUOTE]
    LOL if you had me there no-thats only 3 beers. And why is wine only $3? what kind of wine is it?

     

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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_open-bar-or-pay-per-drink?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:5Discussion:ac47f779-3d3d-4e39-9304-aed901664c0fPost:81d7ecbc-8a83-403e-8e40-7cdd4f9fa414">Re: open bar or pay per drink?</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to open bar or pay per drink? : LOL if you had me there no-thats only 3 beers. And why is wine only $3? what kind of wine is it?
    Posted by alithebride[/QUOTE]

    I estimated 5 glasses of wine per bottle. Yes, that's on the high end of bottles per glass but when they can always go back and get more I figured why not pour a little less each glass. So 5 glasses per bottle x $3=$15 per bottle-$7 corkage=$8 per bottle. We can easily find something for $8 a bottle. Not the best but drinkable.

    Thanks for the advice. I'm going to try to convince FI just to go with the open bar and not worry about any surprises at the end of the night.
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    My cousin paid per drink and ended up paying $2,000 more than she would have it she paid per head.

    So I'm going with per-head. :)
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    Go with the flat fee - then you don't have any surprises. I think most people also tend to drink more when they aren't paying. I know I have no qualms getting 4 glasses of wine if I'm not paying, but will stop at 2 if I am.
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