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  • Writer's pictureDarrin Clark

How to Provide Alcohol for Cost Effective Weddings & Events

Updated: May 29, 2020

Professional bartending services have a lot of expenses for liability, training, inventory and logistics, and therefore need to charge sufficiently to cover these costs.  Along with the per person charge for alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks, a fully catered bar will also include the costs of a bartender ($45/hour), bartender tip ($60/bartender) and  10% admin charge.  This can vary depending on grade of alcohol and what is served  (mixed drinks, wine, beer and/or specialty drinks).  Duration of event also is a big consideration for pricing.  Standard guidelines for drinks are one drink per hour per guest.  

To save our customers significant money we always recommend they purchase their own alcohol if the venue allows it.  Limit the selection to a minimum of white & red wine, beer and then as budget permits add a signature drink or two.  Full bar is a nice-to-have but not for budget conscious customers.

Please keep in mind that with either options, you should have a MAST Class 12 certified bartender.  Not only will most venues require this for liability reasons, having trained bartenders for checking identification and ensuring guests are not overserved is highly recommended.

Sample Bar Catering Cost

This example assumes a 3-hour duration and 2 bartenders.  We typically have a bartender for every 75-100 guest.  As you see the Do-it-Yourself bar is much more cost effective.  I work with my customers on finding great wines at our local Costco.

Other Ideas

  • Not tipping the bartender but allowing them to have a  tip jar.  

  • Less expensive and still wonderful wine & beer can be purchased at Trader Joes

  • Have a low price “No Host” bar.  Charge $2 for beer and $3 for wine.  This can recoup a lot of you cost while being very inexpensive for your guest.

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