Providing a free bar

My son is getting married this summer. They are hiring a venue and are wanting to provide a free bar because the guests are travelling and therefore have additional costs for staying over etc. The venue is happy for them to provide their own booze.

I am looking for ideas as to how some of the costs of providing the alcohol can be recuperated from donations. Can anyone suggest anything other than a bucket on the bar for guests to make a donation for what they drink please?

TIA x :beer:


  • flea72flea72 Forumite
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    How can asking people to donate cash, equate to a free bar? Its either free or its not.

    All weddings ive been to you buy your own drinks, or if the hosts are feeling genous, they put some money in the kitty to cover the bar bill, so most people get at least one free drink on arrival
  • gettingtheresometimegettingtheresometime Forumite
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    The only way I think you can do it is if you arrange for the bar to charge less than bar prices, so it is almost as if you giving it away.

    I agree though either it's a free bar or it isn' can't say to people here's a free bar but you need to donate when you have a drink.

    The problem I can see with a free bar is that there's a lot of wastage - people only half drinking drinks etc or people don't have any appreciation of how much they're drinking and drinking too much.

    It's a nice thought but unless the venue charges stupid prices for drinks I wouldn't worry too much - most people, if they've accepted the invitation, are prepared to suck it up.
  • edited 26 March 2017 at 9:49PM
    Mumsy3Mumsy3 Forumite
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    edited 26 March 2017 at 9:49PM
    There is no provision for guests to buy their own alcohol. I would imagine most people would be happy to make a token donation. I was asking for ideas as to how this could possibly be done for those who may wish to donate. No-one is asking people to donate cash - but if they wished to then how best can this be done?
    If I was in a similar situation I would happily make a token donation to cover all I would drink!
  • comeandgocomeandgo Forumite
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    This sounds awful, a bucket to put "donations" in. If it's a free bar a suggest you put a few bottles of wine and spirits on each table with lots of mixers and let guests help themselves.
  • comeandgocomeandgo Forumite
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    Also, is this venue licensed to allow payment?
  • gettingtheresometimegettingtheresometime Forumite
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    I'd also be concerned about the safety of the bucket & its contents.
  • IzadoraIzadora Forumite
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    Could you ask people to bring a bottle? You'd still have to provide some booze (there are always a couple of people who bring two cans of lager and drink 3 bottles of wine...) but it would massively cut down the cost.
  • KateySWKateySW Forumite
    107 Posts
    I'm not exactly sure how you'd do that... I've been to events where they have a 'pay what you feel like' bucket, but I'm not sure how that would work for a wedding.

    I'm getting married this year and we had a similar dilemma - of course, we want to give people free drinks to a point but our budget would only stretch so far. So we decided upon getting a bar and leaving so much behind for a few rounds + including plenty of bottles of wine on the tables and some cocktails for the start of the reception (we're going to the a cash & carry to get that!). It's a sticky one for a lot of people I think, but as long as people at least get a couple of drinks included I'm sure no one would be too upset. Or at least I'd hope not!

    Good luck! :)
  • edited 27 March 2017 at 3:28PM
    esuhlesuhl Forumite
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    edited 27 March 2017 at 3:28PM
    The bar will be charging to make a profit, so drinks will be quite expensive. If you want to pay for drinks, it would probably be cheaper to buy a barrel of ale, a keg of lager, and some wine.

    It'll probably cost you less than if you had a free bar with a donations bucket.

    I just looked up the cost of a 72-pint barrel of ale, and it's about £120, so that's about £1.67 a pint. I imagine a bar would charge £3.50 a pint, so you'd need to be getting an average donation of over £1.83 a pint for it to be cheaper with the donations bucket.
  • TrevelyanTrevelyan Forumite
    43 Posts
    For our caterers we are going to go for a cash bar, because guests are friends and friends understand that we've got to pay and that for our wedding its a little bit harsh to expect us to pay for all of them!

    Since we're having a city wedding, though, all the caterers seem expensive for their cash bar lists. I'm considering asking if we can subsidise it by 25% or so (£4 pint becomes £3) or something..

    I'm seeing very limited bar choices for the cash bar though. But BYOB sounds interesting as an idea. I know plenty of the guests would!
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