Guest Post | Just how thirsty are your wedding guests?

At some point while planning your wedding, you will need to decide on how much alcohol you will be providing or how ‘big’ your bar tab will be. This can be a sticky subject with whoever is footing the bill. Just how thirsty are your guests? How much do they drink? What do they like to drink? How many bottles of red wine to white wine do you provide? How many bottles of champagne should you buy? Are welcome drinks necessary? It’s a lot to think about.

Glynnis is the owner of the wedding venue Talloula in Botha’s Hill, Durban.  As photographers, we LOVE working with Glynnis. Her staff are very professional, she always makes us feel welcome and well looked after, and her events are top quality. Glynnis answered some commonly asked questions for the average Joe Groom and Jane Bride.


So, just how thirsty are your guests ?

The Bar Tab is always a big topic of discussion when it comes to wedding planning, and mostly because average Joe Groom has no idea how much would keep the lads happy, and what would be considered stingy.

Whatever you do, find cash in your budget to provide free drinks after the ceremony.  Guests are thirsty by this time!  They will have traveled to your venue, arrived 20 minutes before the ceremony, and then sat through a 30-60 minute service. That’s a minimum of two hours without anything to drink. They will be thirsty. Very thirsty, and I am guessing… hungry too.  You will definitely be regarded as stingy if your guests have to start paying for drinks immediately.

Don’t assume that some craft beers at this point in the day will cut it. Not everyone will be happy to mix beer and cake. It would be sensible to limit these drinks to beer, wine, ciders and soft drinks though. If you open the bar completely, you may have some heckling friends during the father-of-the-bride speech. Less than ideal. So we suggest staying away from spirits and shooters until later in the evening. For the budget conscious couple, stay away from cocktails and unusual mixes which are expensive, and which make guests wary of tasting. If you are only able to offer one or two drinks per person, we suggest you set up a ‘fresh Juice Bar’. It’s quirky, looks inviting and will please Jane Bride as she has likely seen something similar on Pinterest.

Once you have decided on a rand value for these welcome drinks, stick to it. Our venue handles this by using wheel barrows, which makes it easy to simply wheel these barrows away once they are finished. 

In terms of how many drinks to provide during this time between your ceremony and reception, it is safe to say 2 or maybe 3 drinks each.  Take an average of 2.5 drinks per person, at an average price of R25 per drink, and you now have a Rand value budget for the post ceremony drinks. 

What happens after that?

A cash bar is completely acceptable these days, however, make sure you mention this on your invitation to ensure that guests arrive prepared with their wallets (i.e. “cash bar available”).  If you have a limited bar tab, it may stretch further if you put limitations on it, for example “no spirits” or “no shooters” on tab. This assists in keeping the budget in check. 

If you are offering spirits, don’t bother limiting guests to single tots only… all your mischievous guests will do is ask for 2 singles and pour them into one glass right in front of the barman!

Consider corkage wisely as in some instances it may be cheaper to go with the wine the venue offers. Corkage ranges from R35 to R65 per bottle, and may or may not be limited to a number of bottles, depending on the venue. 

Champagne…yes or no?  If you are sentimental about Champagne, then go for it, but we suggest you ask the venue to pour it as opposed to leaving bottles on the table.  Our experience has been that many guests (like the lads) don’t drink champagne and will toast with whatever they are drinking.  By having the servers pour glasses to only guests who want, you avoid having a scattering of half empty bottles after the wedding. In terms of budgeting, one bottle per table is sufficient.

After all the decisions are made, just how much are you in for ?

For an average wedding of say 100 guests with a limited bar, you could expect to spend around R20 000.  R5 000 for your post ceremony drinks and a further R15 000 for the reception.

Should your guests tip the bar staff?

We say if you have had good service, always and always!  Good service of any description, at any time, is worthy of reward.


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