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'Subsidized' Cash Bar?

I would love to have an open bar but I don't think it's in the budget but I'm shocked at how much venues here charge per drink.  I feel that $7-9 is too much for a drink and I'm wondering if anyone knows if it's possible to 'subsidize' the price ie; we pay the venue $2 or $3 for every drink sold and the guests pay the difference therefore getting a lower drink cost?  Am I being silly? 

We are planning to provide wine with dinner 3-4 bottles per table of 8, is that enough for us to do?  I just don't want my guests to be shocked at the drink prices (typically I've paid about $5 a drink at other weddings I've been to, most of them having cash bars)

Re: 'Subsidized' Cash Bar?

  • I think that you should rework your budget to be able to host the bar. Even just hosting only beer and wine would be a better option than having a cash bar.

    Other than that you would have to ask your venue if you can subsidize your bar.
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  • Here's a few options for some thought:

    *Some venues will let you pay a certain amount, let's say 3K, and when it gets to that limit, you can choose to add more to it, or you can choose to have a cash bar from there

    *Another option is to have an open bar for a certain amount of time.  For example, have a cocktail hour, close the bar for dinner service, re-open when the dancing starts for 2-3 hours

    *Also, you can choose to have a signature cocktail to be served throughout the evening and have a basic bar.

    *You may also want to check what type of liquor and beer they're serving - typically, a deluxe bar has your higher end rum, vodka, whiskey, etc., plus domestic and imported beers, plus other liqueurs like Baileys, etc. - essentially, no shooters. Ask about getting the standard bar - generic vodka, rum, etc. plus domestic beers only.

    Check with your venue to see what they offer
  • Are you locked into this venue already?  I would rework your spending so that you can have an open bar, even if it's just beer and wine (no cocktails) which may (?) reduce the price (for us it didn't, the wine was actually more expensive than bar rails and beer).

    Look for places that have bar prices that suit your needs.  Ours was pretty affordable, $5.50/drink + tax and tip made is more than $7/drink though.  We paid a flat rate per person to keep it easy and they estimated 5.5 drinks pp.  If you can't get the bar prices as low as you want them to be then change the menu a bit or cut out some decor to make room for it.  Your guests will thank you.  They don't care whether you have satin or tulle overlays, they'd prefer to eat and drink!

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