28 April, 2009

Raising (or, Rather, Lowering) the Bar

"What advice can you give me about reducing the cost of the bar? I want our guests to enjoy themselves, but everything is adding up so fast-we really need some help keeping our liquid costs down."

The bar. Oy. If I had a nickel....

Liquid costs are sometimes the last thing on a couple's "wedding mind". It just not something everyone thinks about, we didn't. Not until very late in the game, at least. I'm not going to lie, the navigation of liquid cost is a tricky business. Luckily, I have a few tips and tricks at the ready.

1. Do your homework. Get familiar with any literature you have from your catering and/or venue candidates. Go to their websites and check out references. The best thing you can do is talk to people who've used them. See what problems if any other couples have had. If at all possible, talk to a local wedding planner and ask them for recommendations. In other words, know as much as you can about the place you will be visiting before you even set foot on the grounds. The Hubbs and I searched for at least 6 weeks before coming to a decision. It's a lot like dating. You gotta let 'em work for it awhile, before you go giving it up.

2. Ask Questions. When you are venue-hunting, take a list of questions along with you (more on this in a different post). Write down everything you want to know, no matter how silly you think your inquiry may be. You can't have too much knowledge, especially when it comes to money. Sample topics: Bartender fee, gratuity, tax, drink price and per bottle prices. Make sure you ask what bottles are included with your bar and how much upgrades are. For instance, Stoli may come in the bar, but it may cost $10 to upgrade to Grey Goose. Do not leave that venue until all of your questions have been not only answered, but answered to your satisfaction. This is what ONE of our question lists looked like. We had seven lists.

3. Consider your options and do the math. This is a bit complicated only because today's couples have so many. Once you've gathered all your info, work it out. Maybe it saves money to go with a venue that allows you to bring in your own bartender. Or perhaps it makes more sense to choose a place that has bar service and limit the "free" stuff. You'll have to decide, what's best for you.

So, after you've done all that what's next?! You've got some concrete decisions to make that will, perhaps, vary greatly depending on your choice of venue. The above three tips are general ones that can be used to effectively determine difference in cost and fees between all venues. Once the venue is chosen, the hard part begins. That's another post entirely.

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