Consumption Bar or Bar Package at Indian Wedding Venues? Your Friends Do NOT Make Up for All the People That Aren’t Going To Drink: A Walk-Through the Numbers.

Most Indian weddings opt for a consumption bar because venue bar packages are all-or-nothing. Meaning you pay the package price for regardless of whether they are going to consume alcohol or not. That’s a lot of wasted money that could go towards so many other things for your wedding. 

A bar package is a combo of different beverages: wine, vodka, beer, whiskey plus sodas, and water. Every venue has at least two different packages to choose from, containing different brands, which is reflected in the package price. 

A consumption bar is exactly what it sounds like, the venue charges you for every drink consumed.

Some brides and grooms are initially wary of the consumption option for a couple reasons:

  1. if the per drink price at a venue is high
  2. worry that guests take only a few sips of a drink, forgetfully put it down somewhere and then go get another.

Those are valid concerns. And the way to think through this and determine what you should do, is to run some numbers. 

{Step 1: Worst Case Scenario}

“The worst case” scenario: this is calculated by taking the bar package price * the number of adults you expect at your reception. I call this the “worst” case scenario because it’s the most you’ll spend on the bar.

So let’s say the highest valued bar package at a high end resort is $70 (totally realistic) per adult and you’re having 350 adult guests. That comes out to $70*350 = $24,500. That’s a lot of money.

Now let’s look at the per dink prices:

A glass of wine for a premium brand, at a high end resort costs $15. 
A glass of Johnnie Walker Black at a high end resort costs $15.
A glass of soda at a high end resort costs $5.
A glass of mineral water at a high end resort costs $5.

$15 is the highest individual drink cost in this example – which is, again, totally realistic. 

So if you look at $70 per person for a package, that means every single adult would have to drink 5 glasses of premium wine or 5 Johnnie Walker Blacks in the timespan of your cocktail hour and reception, to make getting the bar package economical.


That’s not going to happen.

{Your Friends Will NOT Make Up The Difference}

And for those that say that, “yeah but our friends will make up for the people that don’t drink” I seriously doubt it. The groom will have what, 30-35 homies at the most? And the bride the same? And they’re the only ones that will really throw down hardcore at your wedding. And out of the groom’s homies at MOST ten or so will actually get $70 smashed. Same for the bride’s friends.

So we’re talking about at MOST 20 or so friends that will really drink $70 worth of alcohol. They do not makeup for all the other guests that are going to have 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks and 1 or 2 non-alcoholic beverages. 

{Step 2: Unrealistic Consumption Bar Scenarios}

The next thing to do is run scenarios based on a consumption bar. So let’s look at an accurate example:

Johnnie Walker Black is $15 per drink at a high end resort. 

Let’s assume every Uncle at your wedding drinks 1 Johnnie Walker Black per hour. So that’s 2 during cocktail hour and 2 from dinner to midnight. So that comes to $60 per person. And let’s assume 50% of the guests are Uncles or whomever drinking 4 Johnnie Walker’s in the 6 hour time span of your cocktail hour to the end of the reception.  

Now, is this realistic? Maybe for a very small handful of Uncles but certainly not for the majority. And even if this happened,their drinks come out to $60 per person which is still less than the per person bar package.

{Step 3: Realistic Consumption Bar Scenarios}

Next work through some realistic scenarios i.e.

  • 2 glasses of wine + 1 soda for 75% of guests
  • 2 hard drinks + 2 sodas for 50% of guests
  • 2 beers + 2 sodas for a percentage of guests
  • 2 sodas + 2 waters for a percentage of guests
  • 1 wine + 2 sodas for a percentage of guests

You should get the idea. Now you can start running through realistic numbers and compare these scenarios to getting a bar package.

Will some people be frivolous with drinks? Yes. But most people aren’t. People are busy socializing during cocktail hour and the reception. It’s annoying to have to go back-and-forth and wait at the bar for a drink. 

{Bartender to Guest Ratio}

Think back to all the weddings you’ve been to and sometimes how long you’ve had to wait to get a drink. FYI: most venues assign 1 bartender for every 100 guests.

{Realistic Costs of Drinks at Venues}

This is how much individual drinks cost at at a high end resort venue:

premium wine: $15 per glass
beer: $8 per beer
soda: $5 per glass
mineral water: $5 per glass
vodka: ranges $13-$15 per glass

These are realistic numbers so you can run your own numbers.

{Important Logistics Regarding When Alcohol Is Actually Consumed During The Reception}

Bar Package Number of Hours: The venue’s bar packages can be for cocktail hour and the reception or just the reception. Most packages have an amount of time associated with them ranging from 1-4 hours.

How Many Hours Is The Bar Actually Open?: Most venues sell their reception space in a 6 hour block – including cocktail hour. A common scenario is cocktail hour from 6pm-7pm and the reception from 7pm-midnight. And last call would be around 11:30pm.

Remember that at most Indian wedding receptions the flow is that the bars are open during cocktail hour and shut down when the ballroom opens and stay closed for the duration of the program. Then the bars re-open once dinner service starts. And stay open until last call. 


6pm-7pm cocktail hour = bar is open
7pm-9pm reception program = bar is closed
9pm-11:30pm dancing = bar is open

{So The Real Questions Are…}

  1.  Is every adult guest going to consume $70 worth of alcohol in 3.5 hours?
  2. Will the people who will drink make up for the people who didn’t drink alcohol at all? 

Working through this, is really really really important as it has a big impact on your costs.   

{Take Aways}

I encourage every couple to question their assumptions when it comes to the bar at their wedding. Practically every couple we talk to says the same things, “well our friends will make up for the people who don’t drink”. And I always always say, just do the math. Let hard facts drive your decisions.

Just last week we helped a couple book their wedding and sangeet venue and this is what they had to say in their review about us:

“Shaadishop is amazing! Samta is a rockstar and really genuinely cares about making sure you find the best venue that meets your needs.

She not only helped us but pushed back and challenged us in the right ways when we weren’t looking at things fully or properly.

I recommend her to anyone looking to find an Indian wedding venue.

The Shaadishop team is truly world class!”

I hope this article has been helpful to you. If you have comments, questions or stories you’d like to share, feel free to post them in the comments below. Follow ShaadiShop on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest – whatever your preferred media is, as we frequently publish articles for venue sales and catering teams.

Samta Varia Founder & CEO ShaadiShop: Indian Wedding Venues





“Shaadishop helped me not only find venues but also understand how they work, the fees, and tips that I wouldn’t have otherwise known. Definitely a need service in the desi community. “ Hinna S., Bride

“Cannot say enough good things about the service from Samta and ShaadiShop who helped us research venues for our wedding this year. We wanted a non-hotel venue, and to get married within 6 months. ShaadiShop immediately found us venues, contacted them and educated us about all the things we needed to think about while selecting a venue. They put all the info together in a fabulous, super impressive, spreadsheet that helped us compare venues – seriously amazing and such a great help. Working with them made the whole stressful process MUCH easier and I can’t believe it was all free! ShaadiShop’s website is fantastic and such a great service for South Asians – so glad I found them!”Anjli S., Bride

“We’re so glad we used ShaadiShop to book our venue. The info on the website is amazing and then they gave us such personalized attention! They were such a valuable resource for selecting venues, helping us understand policies and logistics. Their suggestions saved us a lot money too! They really understood us, what we wanted and helped us get it. AND it’s free! So glad there’s a service like this for South Asians. Awesome that there’s something like this for South Asians!” Janki K, Bride

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More ShaadiShop Articles:

How Bar Packages Work at Indian Wedding Venues
Fallacy: “If I Go With A Nicer Venue Then I Won’t Need As Much Decor”
Everything You Need To Know About Lighting Costs For an Indian Wedding


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