Wedding Etiquette Forum

Question about open bar

Hey all! I usually just lurk here but first I would like to say thank you because I have learnt a ton. I was clueless about wedding related etiquette before I came on here.

My question is related to getting a head count for open bar. We have put a deposit on our venue and they told us that closer to the day we need to let them know how many people will be taking advantage of the open bar so they could charge us accordingly. Obviously we aren't going to count people under 19 because they can't legally drink but how do you figure out for everyone else? Should we just assume that everyone over 19 will be drinking and pay for everyone? We have lots of elderly family members attending and FI says a lot of his huge family doesn't drink they are all OOT and I have never met the majority if them He says we should put a check box on the RSVP along with the meal selection so that people can let us know if they'll take advantage of the open bar. I told him I think that seems a bit tacky?

What did you guys do? Did you just assume everyone would use it and pay for everyone?
BTW sorry if the spaces disappear, I'm writing this from my phone

Re: Question about open bar

  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited March 2013
    Honestly I've never heard of a venue who let you pick who will use the open bar. It's always been everyone over 21 is counted.   If they didn't do it that way people would lowball the count and the venue would lose money.



    ETA -  I don't know what  you call elderly but my grandparents still drank at age 86.   Not like a 20 year old, but they did have cocktails at social events.  Not sure why you would exclude simply on age?     If  FI's family really doesn't drink then maybe a consumption bar might work about better for you.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_question-about-open-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:6ff94872-ae06-4266-b7d6-4364d458634dPost:0f15d5d5-b10f-44c8-9f49-ee5ae7aa7657">Question about open bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]Hey all! I usually just lurk here but first I would like to say thank you because I have learnt a ton. I was clueless about wedding related etiquette before I came on here. My question is related to getting a head count for open bar. We have put a deposit on our venue and they told us that closer to the day we need to let them know how many people will be taking advantage of the open bar so they could charge us accordingly. Obviously we aren't going to count people under 19 because they can't legally drink but how do you figure out for everyone else? Should we just assume that everyone over 19 will be drinking and pay for everyone? We have lots of elderly family members attending and FI says a lot of his huge family doesn't drink they are all OOT and I have never met the majority if them He says we should put a check box on the RSVP along with the meal selection so that people can let us know if they'll take advantage of the open bar. I told him I think that seems a bit tacky? What did you guys do? Did you just assume everyone would use it and pay for everyone? BTW sorry if the spaces disappear, I'm writing this from my phone
    Posted by hollyallyse[/QUOTE]<div>
    </div><div>If you were to tell them 50 people were drinking, how would they ensure only 50 people were drinking? Or is it that they would only bring enough alcohol to serve 50 people? If you estimated low, could you pay the difference after the wedding? If you estimated high, would you get a credit back? I've never heard of a venue doing it like this. I'd ask them all of the questions I just asked you. </div><div>
    </div><div>I DEFINITELY would not ask guests ahead of time. </div><div>
    </div><div>I found this wedding alcohol calculator, which might help: <a href="http://www.thealcoholcalculator.com/." rel="nofollow">http://www.thealcoholcalculator.com/.</a> If you don't know the answer, just trust the defaults. I would rather overestimate how much alcohol is needed than have them run out in the middle of my reception.

    </div>
  • I think you should ask your venue exactly what they mean in terms of having a headcount for the open bar. At my venue everyone is included in the open bar with the exception of vendors and those under 19. I am paying for everyone of drinking age regardless of whether or not they'll use it. 

    I definitely wouldn't put a check box at the bottom of the RSVP. People will most likely tell you yes just to that they can if they want to. 
    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Anniversary 
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_question-about-open-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:6ff94872-ae06-4266-b7d6-4364d458634dPost:2bc5c3e8-9547-4a7d-ad17-f7347dad59f7">Re:Question about open bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re:Question about open bar: This. Are you sure they don't mean that the need a final head count of guests coming that are over 21?
    Posted by StageManager14[/QUOTE]

    <div>I'm assuming she's from Ontario. Drinking age is 19 up here. </div>
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  • I wish more venues by me would do over 21 and under 21 headcounts. Seems crazy to me that we pay X for open bar for my 4 year old niece who won't drink and will leave shortly after dinner. OP, I would count everyone over 21 as someone who will drink. Some might not drink anything but water while some might drink til they pass out at a table.
    You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back. - Barbara DeAngelis
  • Oh I didn't even know that this wasn't the norm but it makes sense because anyone could lie about how many people would be drinking. Maybe we will just count anyone over 19 we are in Canada because if not I guess I would just have to guess? It's a venue in rural Canada so I'm not sure if they just make their own rules but they literally just told me to tell them how many people will be using the open bar because they know that not everyone drinks.
  • We included anyone over 21 in our count.  
  • SlothGoalsSlothGoals member
    1000 Comments 250 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    edited March 2013
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_question-about-open-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:6ff94872-ae06-4266-b7d6-4364d458634dPost:fed1caf9-b208-452f-82f5-79ca9ff5badb">Re:Question about open bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]Oh I didn't even know that this wasn't the norm but it makes sense because anyone could lie about how many people would be drinking. Maybe we will just count anyone over 19 we are in Canada because if not I guess I would just have to guess? It's a venue in rural Canada so I'm not sure if they just make their own rules but they literally just told me to tell them how many people will be using the open bar because they know that not everyone drinks.
    Posted by hollyallyse[/QUOTE]

    <div>I would just go with anyone 19 and over to make your life easier. Like Liatris said, people use weddings as special occasions to indulge in things they might not normally do.</div>
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  • Sorry I didn't mean to insinuate that elderly people don't drink. I just know a lot of the ones in my family can't. Thanks so much for all the advice! : I think I will just include everyone over 19 then. It's a lot easier that way anyways.


  • My venue charges 3 prices per person based on:

    over 21 (food and drink included in one price)

    Young children (kids meal)

    under 21, but eating adult meal

    I know I have at least one recovered alcoholic, but his meal will cost the same as other adults. I think it all kind of  balances out. Some will drink a lot, some might not drink at all.

    Go with anyone over the legal drinking age in your count
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_question-about-open-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:6ff94872-ae06-4266-b7d6-4364d458634dPost:5e93e0cd-eb5e-43ae-8ecc-5212b8b4057c">Re:Question about open bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]Sorry I didn't mean to insinuate that elderly people don't drink. I just know a lot of the ones in my family can't. Thanks so much for all the advice! : I think I will just include everyone over 19 then. It's a lot easier that way anyways.
    Posted by hollyallyse[/QUOTE]

    <div>
    </div><div>Count everyone of drinking age and older, just to make your life easier.  My H's 95 year old grandmother loves having a glass of wine :)</div>
    Don't make me mobilize OffensiveKitten

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  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    We are paying 3 prices at our venue. An open bar is included with our package.

    For anyone over 19, we are paying the full price, regardless if they drink or not.

    For under 19, we are paying the cost the meal, minus the alcohol.

    Under 12, we pay for a kids meal. 

    For your bar count, I would include all legal adults (as you are). 
  • I also have never heard of a venue allowing you to just pay for the "drinkers" and to speculate the rest. I do not include under 21 in the head count and I kind of put my foot down on not having to pay for the 4 pregnant guests we have in attendence as well. Good luck!
  • CkfragallCkfragall member
    10 Comments First Anniversary 5 Love Its
    edited March 2013
    My venue is saying the same thing... For an one bar how many will participate. They are only charging for those that will drink. I was wondering myself how to give them a number
  • I wonder how the venue would be able to keep track of how many people are drinking?
  • edited March 2013
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_question-about-open-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:6ff94872-ae06-4266-b7d6-4364d458634dPost:0f15d5d5-b10f-44c8-9f49-ee5ae7aa7657">Question about open bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]Hey all! I usually just lurk here but first I would like to say thank you because I have learnt a ton. I was clueless about wedding related etiquette before I came on here. My question is related to getting a head count for open bar. We have put a deposit on our venue and they told us that closer to the day we need to let them know how many people will be taking advantage of the open bar so they could charge us accordingly. Obviously we aren't going to count people under 19 because they can't legally drink but how do you figure out for everyone else? Should we just assume that everyone over 19 will be drinking and pay for everyone? We have lots of elderly family members attending and FI says a lot of his huge family doesn't drink they are all OOT and I have never met the majority if them He says we should put a check box on the RSVP along with the meal selection so that people can let us know if they'll take advantage of the open bar. I told him I think that seems a bit tacky? What did you guys do? Did you just assume everyone would use it and pay for everyone? BTW sorry if the spaces disappear, I'm writing this from my phone
    Posted by hollyallyse[/QUOTE]

    Why 19? Drinking age in the US is 21.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • In Response to Re:Question about open bar:[QUOTE]In Response to Question about open bar:Posted by hollyallyseWhy 19? Drinking age in the US is 21. Posted by OwningAHome1981[/QUOTE]

    Yes I know. But I live in Ontario and the drinking age here is 19.
  • In Response to Re:Question about open bar:[QUOTE]My venue is saying the same thing...

    For an one bar how many will participate. They are only charging for those that will drink. I was wondering myself how to give them a number Posted by Ckfragall[/QUOTE]

    So glad to hear I'm not the only one!!! I was beginning to think that my venue was just odd. Everyone on here seemed surprised that they do it that way. Oh well I've got some great advice from everyone. I'm just going to include anyone over drinking age UNLESS I am 100 sure they don't drink due to health or personal beliefs.
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