Iowa-Des Moines

Caterers that let you buy your own alcohol

Does anyone know or have an idea of which caterers (Gateway, Taste to Go, Christianis, etc.) let you buy your own alcohol for your reception? I've known people who did this at a wedding out of state and they saved a ton by doing their alcohol this way. I'm new to Des Moines, so I haven't been to any weddings here or know much about the caterers, but we'd like to purchase our own alcohol if possible. Do any caterers let you do that here?

Re: Caterers that let you buy your own alcohol

  • I don't think it's necessarily the caterers who control that so much as the venue itself. You'll have to check with the venue you choose for the reception. Our venue didn't allow outside caterers as they did their own. (Izaak Walton League) They also had a bar in house, so no outside booze also. If you found alternative locations you may also have to look at what other regulations that have such as having to have an onsite police officer present while serving alcohol. Sometimes that is requirement of certain venues. We looked at having our reception at the Simpson Barn at first in Johnston which is close to our house, but since we are getting married August (1 week away Yay!) we were worried about the no air conditioning thing there.

    So, in conclusion, I would first investigate the venue, because they may have restrictions on the caterer first and foremost and then they will let you know what they say on the booze.
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  • OK. We used Gateway. And they let you buy your own booze because they do not do a cash bar. So here's what we did: We bought all our beer and wine from them. At the time, they were selling their beer to us for $1 a bottle. Now, the price is $2 a bottle (for domestics -- more for microbrews), which is still cheaper than kegs. Anyway, you buy their beer and they charge you for that and a service fee of 20 percent. Now, you can't return the beer you don't drink. So keep that in mind. We had way too much and had to have a couple post-parties to get rid of it. Booze: we bought all our own booze and mixers at HyVee and they served it. For what we paid Gateway Market, as compared to if we'd had our reception at a hotel (where you're stuck with overpriced kegs and whatever food they have), we save a boatload of money. Also, we got so many compliments on our food it was ridiculous.
  • Wonderful! I've been wondering if Gateway allowed that or not. That's very helpful!

    (by the way, that was my very first post on the boards! Thanks all for responding. So surreal!)
  • taste 2go allows you to
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  • Also make sure it is okay with your venue. I know with ours we had to has special insurance that was going to be more than having the venue provide the alcohol.
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  • Thanks everyone! These are all great tips. We are meeting with Taste to Go on Wednesday!
  • We used Gateway back in May, and when we signed the contract long ago it was true that since they didn't sell liquor you could bring it in yourself and they would serve it.  You had to buy beer and wine through them and couldn't return any unused/unopened bottles (still a very good price, though, and a great excuse to have some parties in the future with all of your new household goods :) ).  BUT about one month before the wedding we had a final run-through and I was informed that they were possibly in the middle of switching the whole byo liquor policy.

    Regardless, Kelly at Gateway was WONDERFUL and we had so many comments on how awesome the food was!  Certainly not cookie-cutter "wedding food" which is exactlly what I wanted to stay away from.  Kelly and staff also essentially ran the show at the reception since we got married and had the reception at Sticks and they did a great job.  I really can't say enough good things about Gateway!
  • That's so good to hear! Since posting this we met with Kelly at Gateway and have decided to go with them. It is true that their policy has changed and they no longer let you provide the alcohol, so we are doing our own bar - no so much because of the prices on the booze, but because it's $25 an hour per bartender and that alone would have cost an extra $500 to use them as bartenders. I'm still really excited about working with Gateway and already Kelly is so, so helpful!
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