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New Hampshire

How much should open bar cost?

So we've hit the first snag with our catere, who has otherwise had totally reasonable prices. Even before the 20% service charge, a 5 hour open bar will cost close to $9,000 (or about $60 per person). With the 20%, it's more like $70 per person and over 10k. Is this normal?

I remember talking with other venues when we were looking, and most of them had open bar offerings closer to the 50 per person range. I'm just really disappointed because while my FI's family has graciously offered to host the bar, I really think they were planning on more in the $50pp range.

UGH! I am hoping there may be another vendor we can bring in or perhaps the caterer can work with us a bit on the costs.

I know we don't "need" an open bar beyond perhaps the cocktial hour, but about 80% of our guests will be traveling to get to our wedding, many by plane, and I really don't want to have to ask people to pay for drinks when they are already bearing the expense of traveling and hotel costs, rental cars, etc. I just feel disappointed.

Re: How much should open bar cost?

  • knwithamknwitham member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    That sounds REALLY high to me. At my venue the cost of the open bar is $23 per person for 3 hours. The first hour is included in our package. I would look into other vendors and see if you can find something cheaper!
  • edited December 2011
    We cant afford open bar period.  So what we chose to do is bring in a family wine.  Unfortunately we're paying 2.5 or 3.5 more than what the actual bottles cost.  So we're looking at $3,000 for the wine.  It is a tradition to have it if not I would just make the bar go until $3,000 is met.

    A lot of venues that I looked at had deals like $25 per person for cocktail hour and they only add another $10 for extra hours or on consumption.

    Have you thought of only offering specific types of alcohol.  Ones that wont cost the catering company much?  Like certain beers, wines and maybe a few signature cocktails made with vodka or rum can be low cost and maybe a few mixers?
  • edited December 2011
    Yeah, I've done some research, and it appears that this estimate is crazy high, especially for New Hampshire. I asked our venue manager about it, as they are the preferred caterer for bar service, and she said she's going to look into it, which I hope means she's going to see if a lower package price can be worked out.

    I would love to just hire bartenders and bring our own alcohol.

    Knwitham, I received other quotes from other venues that were more in the 25-40 per person, definitely. It's what I was expecting when we asked him for the quote. I was so shocked! Hopefully it all works out.
  • mariegramariegra member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    The bar prices at the Shattuck range between $22 pp for "well' liquors (off brands), to $26 pp for "call" brands and $29 pp for 'top shelf" brands.

    Your cater is crazy to give you a quote that high! 
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  • JuJuBee1977JuJuBee1977 member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Hello,
    Yeah i believe anywhere between $22-$40 should be right on the money, especially in NH.  We are not having open bar but were quoted $24 per for 3 1/2 hours.

    Hope this helps!

    Jules
  • SOEngaged101SOEngaged101 member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Just sent you a PM :) But...wanted to let you know that my name is Lauren of SO Engaged, a full-service wedding planning company in the Boston area.  Don't forget you can always negotiate with the caterer...tell them your situation, that your fiance's family is paying for the open bar and they only have x amount to spend.  Of course, it's not very likely that they'll come down to exactly the amount that you're asking for, however they might come down a little bit.  The other thing that they may be able to do is keep the bar open until the budget has been reached, and then turn it into a cash bar.  One last suggestion that I have for you would be to pick a signature drink, and only pay for that.
    Check your PM for some more detailed information and feel free to contact me if you need any sort of help!!

    Lauren


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  • edited December 2011
    That's really high. I just calculated the bar bill from our cocktail hour (and a half), and it was about $20/pp. We had people that were knocking back quite a few during that time, too.
    Our venue was right on par with the rest of NH when it comes to food prices (approx. $25-32/pp).
  • Lilac++Lilac++ member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    We did a hosted consumption-based bar at our wedding. We had 85 guests and had all beer, wine and a specialty punch as the "open bar" for guests. It was an afternoon wedding, but our bar tab at the end of the day was only $600. That's a little over $7 per person (or 1.5 drinks/person). A lot of people in our family are not drinkers, but it was much less than even we expected -- we had budgeted 3 drinks per person. You might want to look into paying per drink instead of a flat rate. There will be some guests who don't drink at all, most who drink in moderation and a few who go overboard. Just something to think about.
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  • DrPB2b13DrPB2b13 member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    That is insanely high.  The cost at Searles Castle (they have their own bar & bartender) is $29 pp for 5 hours, which is the duration of the rental.  If you're not locked into this caterer, I would definitely keep shopping around for a bar service, if not a different caterer altogether.
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  • edited December 2011
    That's REALLY REALLY high! In my research most places are in the $20-$30 a person range if you want open bar all night, and $13-$14 a person if you only want open bar for cocktail hour. Even if you were to do it by consumption, I can't imagine it would ever hit that mark (I suppose depending on how many people you have).

    You are getting a Baaad deal.
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  • edited December 2011
    Thanks ladies, I heard back from the venue and she gave me pricing for a different caterer's bar service that is MUCH more reasonable, works out to $14 pp for cocktial hour and $7 pp for each our after that. Thank goodness! I am so relieved.

    We sent those prices to our caterer and he explained that he was basing his estimate on "worst cast scenario" consumption. His intiial estimate did not make that clear though, and I would far rather pay a flat rate as I think consumption bars can get out of control (our guests will likely consume a lot, what can I say, hahah).

    I feel so much better!
  • edited December 2011
    that's really high!
    I've never worked with a caterer that does that kind of computing, and I work with a lot of caterers in my job.  Is he factoring in insurance liability for some reason? That's really, really high....is he coming down in his pricing based on the other quotes you got?
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  • edited December 2011
    That is really high! We got married at Harrington Farm in Ma and we paid about $29 pp for 5 hours of open bar with top-shelf liquor. We had about 110 people so it was alittle of $3k for open bar. 
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  • DrPB2b13DrPB2b13 member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/local-wedding-boards_new-hampshire_much-should-open-bar-cost?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Local%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:101Discussion:32aa7ad9-0341-4e2b-94cc-206008d81cd7Post:960dca11-1584-43e3-8364-5282f7fa1068">Re: How much should open bar cost?</a>:
    [QUOTE]Thanks ladies, I heard back from the venue and she gave me pricing for a different caterer's bar service that is MUCH more reasonable, works out to $14 pp for cocktial hour and $7 pp for each our after that.
    Posted by MissMeegs[/QUOTE]

    Um... I'll be perfectly honest, that doesn't seem a whole lot better to me.  $7 per person per hour works out to $28-35 pp for a 4-5 hr reception, plus $14 for the cocktail hour  brings it to $42-49 pp for the evening.  It's still a little more reasonable than $60 pp, but not by a whole lot, especially when the majority of us have been quoted about $30 pp overall.

    Not to really burst your bubble here, but I really don't want you to end up having to pay way more than you should!
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  • edited December 2011
    some halls have open bar included in the package so it would be food and open bar for 80 per person. So is there a tab at the end of the night? I'm confused
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