Now that you’ve fully understood all of the fixed costs, variable costs, services, etc… as well as the quantity and quality of food that you can expect from your wedding caterer, let’s talk about one of the most memorable aspects of the wedding – the party!! When your guests are “getting down and boogeying” on the dance floor, you’ll forget all about the costings in these articles, I hope! But for now, let’s tackle the third and final part of the catering service article. It is specific to alcohol, as that is one of the other major differences in term of what a caterer will provide for your destination wedding in Spain in comparison to what you can expect to receive back home.
In a traditional Spanish wedding, the Party (dancing) does not begin until after the banquet dinner has finished. Dancing and the party open bar last the same amount of time. Together with the caterers, you decide on a set number of hours for the party open bar. As a reference, the standard duration of a party is between 2 to 4 hours.
The open bar service includes alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, such as: rum, whisky, vodka, wine, cava, soft drinks and juice. The bartenders make mixed drinks such as rum & Coke, vodka & orange; however signature cocktails such as Cosmopolitans, Caipirinhas, Mojitos, Sex on the Beach, etc., are not offered as part of the beverages for a wedding open bar. Should you be interested in having cocktails for your wedding, they can be included at an additional cost.
Cash bars are also not popular in Spain – having to pay beverages at a wedding is actually considered offensive to Spaniards! The caterers include the open bar service for the party as well as all of the alcohol to be served during the appetizers and dinner as part of the overall menu price. Yet, one of the most frequent questions that we’re asked by foreign Couples about their destination wedding costs is: “How much will I save if I bring my own alcohol?”
As you already know, after having read parts 1 and 2 of this article (you can access them here and here), alcohol is always included in the menu price. Contrary to other countries, in Spain alcohol is quite affordable. It is not as heavily taxed as in many other parts of the world. Therefore, bringing your own alcohol, in most circumstances, will not have a dramatic impact on your overall wedding catering costs.
When we have been asked to calculate how much a Couple can save by sourcing their own alcohol, it is a minimal savings of between 2€ to 5€ per person on average. How can it be this low, indeed?
Let’s consider, firstly, the various fixed costs to be taken into account, which are always payable by the Couple – regardless of whether the Couple has provided the alcohol or not. They are as follows:
- Waiters, breakdown & cleaning staff
- Table(s) for Open bar service
- Material(s) for Open bar service
Secondly, catering companies boast very competitive pricing from wholesalers and are able to source alcohol at a much more affordable rate than any of us that are not in the food & beverage services can find, even if we opt to buy the alcohol at a discount supermarket. Unless you are the owner of a winery, for example, you’ll find that the caterers can get a much better deal than you or I can!
Thirdly, the cost of having an open bar is minimal in comparison to all of the fixed costs that are included as part of the total per person price. The price of the alcohol that is required for the party open bar specifically is a very small percentage of the overall per person price. As a reference, the cost of an open bar service is approximately 12€-14€ per person for a 2-hour open bar service, on average. However, this does not mean that if you source the alcohol yourself you will pay 12€ less! As I mentioned in point 1, the Couple will have to pay all of the fixed costs for the open bar. Therefore, the total amount that you will realistically end up saving is 2€ to 5€ per person.
As I recommend to all of our destination wedding Couples, take advantage of the great things that Spain has to offer! Take advantage of the fact that alcohol is affordable here and let the caterer get you the best deal for your wedding. Not only will your guests be eternally grateful that there is an open bar service at your party, you will also be able to have better wines at your wedding without having to break the bank – rest assured that you will definitely be getting more value for your money!
Enjoy your wedding planning!
Photo Credits: Andrea Ferrara, Edwin Vanderveyer, Niamh Baldock, Marq Riley