Friday, October 10, 2008

Say "I Do" to the Open Bar

This beer's all ready for the black-tie wedding!
from beeradvocate.com

I am fortunate in life to have wonderful friends with many and sundry unique talents such that I never want for advice or assistance when life presents me a problem. Helping me with all my alcohol problems (haha, beer humor) is my friend and bridesmaid, A. Not only is she a beer enthusiast, but also a beer professional as she works for a national distributor bringing delicious beverages to your favorite watering holes. She asked if she could share some of her knowledge with all of you via a guest post and I jumped on the opportunity...so without further ado:

Dearest DCNearlyweds,

I am a bridesmaid in Miss Fairfax’s wedding next October, and have really enjoyed reading all of your posts these past few months (every workday needs a distraction!) There was one post in particular, from Miss Gallery Place, about her concern over providing an open bar on a small budget. Let’s be honest, weddings are less fun without open bars. I myself have been to five weddings already this year (with another one this Sunday!) and belieeeeeve me, nothing says “I Don’t” like paying for drinks.


Not only am I a bridesmaid, but I also work for a beer distributor here in DC and do lots of event planning. And when I read Miss Gallery Place’s post – I begged Miss Fairfax to let me provide everyone with a little beer math in the hopes that at least some of your wedding planning pains might be eased. The main question you have to ask is – do I want liquor at this event, or just beer and wine? I personally think that liquor is a little trickier (and makes guests a little sloppier). But here’s a suggestion:

My boyfriend’s sister got married last year - and they just went to the ABC store in Maryland (go there, it’s cheaper because alcohol isn’t regulated by the state like it is in VA and NC) and bought x-dollars worth of liquor and told the bartenders at the reception to pour until it ran out. After that, you were out of luck. They also had light beer (Miller Lite cans).* And they didn’t run out. There was a small corkage fee at the reception hall, but nothing compared to the total cost of allowing a reception hall to run your open bar. Yikes.

Now, if you’re just into beer and wine, think of it like this:

The estimate I came up with is based on Miss Gallery Place’s 80 person count, this can be adjusted for your guest count, and a budget of $800.00.

If there are 80 wedding guests in attendance, and you are also serving wine, assume about 50 guests will drink beer. Be generous with your guests (especially the guys) and assume that everyone will have a maximum 6 drinks apiece. Therefore:

50 guests x 6 drinks = 300 drinks

300 drinks / 24 (beers in a case) = approx. 13 cases (I rounded up)

The five most common beers served at any reception are Miller Lite, Yuengling, Corona, Blue Moon, and Sam Adams Lager. Twelve-packs of these brands should be available for under $15.99 in the District (Corona has the lowest pricing here in DC than in any other market in the country) and in some cases will be even less (like $10.99 per twelve-pack).** For the sake of math let’s say you buy 26 12-packs (13 cases) in an assortment of flavors:

26 (12-packs) x $15.99 (per case) = $415.74

$415.74 + $37.42 (9% sales tax) = $453.16

This leaves you roughly $350.00 of your $800 budget for wine and non-alcoholic beverages (if that isn’t already included in your per-plate total). Harris Teeter carries an excellent white Mediterranean wine for about $6.99 and Trader Joe’s has a great red wine (a cab-sauv mix) for $5.99 a bottle.***

The conclusion to this novella of a post? Open bars are soooo do-able, and for relatively cheap. I hope this helps – good luck everyone!

*Don't dis the can! It's the perfect excuse to offer your guests the wedding favor of choice for all the young prepsters down south, the WEDDING KOOZIE! And as my dear friend who has quite a collection advised me, "don't forget to order enough to give out at all your showers, engagement parties, and reception and also send the whole bridal party home with 15 after the wedding."Koozie and matching programs from clared23 on flickr

**While Costco is not always cheaper, doing a price comparison with your local grocery store can be worthwhile. Costco is also a great place to get your N/A bevs like water and soda.

***If you have a neighborhood wine shop, check them out too. They may be able to assist you by finding a distributor that supplies a wine you like at a price point that fits your budget. We love Unwind in Alexandria, and have already been in to talk to Vanessa about wines. She's going to help us find wine and Champagne at our price point. More on this later...

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Blogger AmyJean {Relentless Bride®} said...

This is very helpful! Especially b/c i think all brides want to give all they can to their weddings but are constrained financially... but just like you said, maybe playing with the math a little, you can see if it is really doable or not... I think its at least a good place to start!

Friday, October 10, 2008 2:21:00 PM  
Blogger Miss JeffMemorial said...

Yea the only sad part is with our reception place we can't provide our own beer and wine, but hopefully this will help others! :)

Friday, October 10, 2008 3:43:00 PM  
Blogger Only One Heidi said...

incredibly helpful however, i think the point that most people missed per one of my earlier posts is that we're getting married at a restaurant. Thus, bringing in our own drinks is likely not an option. We're looking into bringing cost down by asking if we can do just beer/wine, or the previous option. Trust me! I want an open bar as much as all my friends. However, my last post about the $2000 to the open bar is an option but...we haven't settled on anything, we need to sit down with our planner and look at all the price options. But trust me, if we could provide our own beer and wine..we would.

Friday, October 10, 2008 9:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are looking for some options from TJ's here are my Top 10 Trader Joe's Wines. I have also had many of the sparkling wines there and could offer recommendations. Let me know if I can help.


Friday, October 10, 2008 10:48:00 PM  

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