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This Way to the Bar!

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We went back and forth on what to do for the bar at our wedding. We have a few non-drinkers coming to the wedding, including my fiance. It seemed silly to pay $27 per person for open bar when there are at least 10 guests who don’t drink at all (this would mean we were spending $270 we don’t need to spend!). Our site manager offered us the option of a consumption bar, so we’ll pay $18 per person which creates a tab for us – so if we have 65 guests over 21, our tab will be $1,170 – drinks that are consumed throughout the night will be deducted from that tab, beers are per beer and wine and liquor is based on what is left in the bottle at the end of the night. At the end of the night we could owe money or get money back – we’re obviously hoping for the latter! We plan to spread the word to our younger guests (who might also drink a little more) in a polite manner to take it easy on the drinks. We’re also going to ask that the wait staff not clear any beverages unless the guest tells them they are finished. I’ve been at several weddings where they clear your glass when you still have a good 1/4 of a drink left! Not a fan, it’s wasteful and costing the bride and groom!

I saw some photos on Pinterest where the couple had created a nice looking menu letting the guests know what drinks were available. Since we are not doing a signature drink or anything like that, I thought this would be a good option. I put together a menu inspired from a photo I saw and I’m quite happy with the way my consumption bar menu turned out. I just listed the drinks that we were offering based on our package.

consumption bar
Image via me.

I bought the frames at Jo-Ann’s when I was there for fabric, they were 60% off, so they were less than $3 each. They are plastic frames, but I liked the nice detail that made them look like they could have been wooden frames. I bought two of the frames, the first will hold the sign above letting folks know what drinks are available. I think I might also add what mixers are going to be available at the bottom since I have the extra space.

The second frame, I made a little sign with a quote about drinking and driving and the provided numbers for a few local taxi companies and the Ocean City bus since it is running that weekend. I would hate for anyone to risk driving after drinking to avoid paying a few bucks for a cab. It’s not worth it, so anything I can do to encourage my guests to make a responsible decision I am going to do. I also tried to match the style to the custom poster we had made for the photobooth with Nick’s proposal.

consumption bar
Image via me.

I hope our guests appreciate these little signs and find the information helpful. Hopefully it was also help the bartenders from having to answer a bunch of questions about what type of alcohol is available!

What are you doing about drinks/bar for your wedding? Were you as shocked about how expensive an open bar is as I was?

Erin Zimmerman

is a teacher living in Baltimore, MD. She got married 2012 in Ocean City, MD. You can read her wedding planning posts here.