Bridey, if you know me at all, then you know that I'm a huge fan of open bar at weddings. Don't get me wrong, I totally respect your budgetary restraints, however if you are able to provide cocktails for your guests, then do it! Because, I'm not the only one who digs a few free cocktails (ok, maybe more than a few) in exchange for my presence at your wedding. But, I must warn you, bridey... Should you decide to have an open bar, then plan your budget accordingly. And, plan big! Actually, plan HUGE! Because, an open bar will undoubtedly cost more than you think!
Why? Why will the open bar cost more than you think? Well, bridey, people in general like all things that are free. And an open bar? It's like winning the free jackpot! Right? Do you think your guests give a shit that the bar is costing you money? Nope! As long as it's not costing them money, then they are going to drink their fucking faces off! Isn't that what you do while attending a wedding with an open bar? I do! And, I totally know better, but I can't help it. It's like there is a magnetic pull to the bar that is so powerful it cannot be stopped.
Rule of thumb? The first hour is when your guests will drink the heaviest. I would estimate anywhere between 2-3 drinks per person. Some will drink less, and some will drink more, but either way, cocktail hour? Yeah, it's all about the cocktails! And, after that? Plan on a drink an hour per person. PERIOD. So, simple math for 100 guests? 5-6 drinks per person. Depending on where you are in the country, this could cost you anywhere between $50-75 per person plus tax and gratuity. No, I am not lying or exaggerating. The numbers are staggering, which is why I am telling you this before your wedding so that you can build it into your budget.
Because the most annoying thing ever? Fighting with the venue/caterer (after the fact) about the bar bill. Seriously. It's not the fault of the venue that your guests drank more than you anticipated. It's your fault for not planning on it in advance. I mean, I've had clients go so far as to ask each and every guest how much they drank. REALLY? Yes. True story. And, do you think their guests told them they had eight fucking drinks, puked their guts out, and couldn't get out of bed for two days? Of course not!! They told the bride that they only had 2-3, because people are assholes and people lie. Although frankly, bridey, you shouldn't be such a cheap ass and ask your guests how much they drank at your wedding.
Moral of the story? Your guests have no morals. So, if you are planning on providing an open bar for the evening, then plan on your guests living on nothing except booze (and maybe some food) for five hours. Got it? Good! Now, go budget that open bar!