Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wedding Q&A Thursday - Consumption Bar Budgeting

Q: Since we are doing a consumption bar, the [venue] won't give us the cost of the alcohol until after the reception. Is there some sort of estimate we can plug in to get a better idea if we are going to be within our food and beverage minimum and budget?

A: There sure is! But let me start by defining "consumption" bar for readers who may not be this far along in their planning yet and may need to know the distinction in the coming months.

Consumption Bar refers to how you are billed for the alchohol served at your wedding. Under a "consumption" set-up, you will be billed for exactly what your guests drink. Drinks will be tallied by the bartenders and you will be billed after the reception. While most venues offer this option in addition to a flat, per-guest, rate, restaurants - in my experience - tend to use this method exclusively.

For planning purposes, it is less than ideal to have a (possibly big) chunk of your costs undetermined due to the consumption bar system. But you can absolutely estimate in order to have some reference point when entering into a f&b contract. The industry standard (and this is general event, not purely wedding) is to estimate 2 drinks/person in the first hour and 1 drink/person per hour for the rest of the event. The thought is that some people will drink more (you know who you are, guy who dances with your thumbs up at every wedding); some will drink less or not at all.

Different drinks are usually given a general price like - Beer is $4.oo, wine is 5.50, mixed drinks are $7. I usually use the cost of a glass of wine in my calculations, because it is in the middle and consumed by a lot of people at weddings.

Some people get nervous and think "but my friends drink a lot." To that, I still say to use this formula. It is only an estimate.

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