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Let reception guests know how long bar is "open" for upfront?

So I just attended a wedding where the "open bar" only lasted one hour--well 42 minutes to be exact.  Afterwards beer, wine and soda were no charge but we had to shell out $7-$9 per drink at the bar.  Not expecting this I didn't bring a lot of extra money with me as I was told earlier that the "open bar" would last longer.  My question is: would it be considered tacky to put placecards on each table so guests could read how long the "open bar" will last and how much approx. drinks would cost afterwards?  I heard several party guests complaining aboth the high costs of the drinks at the bar after they found out the "open bar" was closed.  I would rather my guests know kind of what to expect than to be shocked when they went to the bar for a drink for them and their date and only get back $1-$2 change from a twenty dollar bill.  The investment in the wedding is expensive enough and then to have to add another unexpected $40-$60+ per couple to the night for additional mixed drinks left a sour note with some guests.  I certainly don't want that reaction at my reception.Frown

Re: Let reception guests know how long bar is "open" for upfront?

  • In Response to Let reception guests know how long bar is "open" for upfront?:
    So I just attended a wedding where the "open bar" only lasted one hour--well 42 minutes to be exact.  Afterwards beer, wine and soda were no charge but we had to shell out $7-$9 per drink at the bar.  Not expecting this I didn't bring a lot of extra money with me as I was told earlier that the "open bar" would last longer.  My question is: would it be considered tacky to put placecards on each table so guests could read how long the "open bar" will last and how much approx. drinks would cost afterwards?  I heard several party guests complaining aboth the high costs of the drinks at the bar after they found out the "open bar" was closed.  I would rather my guests know kind of what to expect than to be shocked when they went to the bar for a drink for them and their date and only get back $1-$2 change from a twenty dollar bill.  The investment in the wedding is expensive enough and then to have to add another unexpected $40-$60+ per couple to the night for additional mixed drinks left a sour note with some guests.  I certainly don't want that reaction at my reception.
    Posted by Kaisermust
    Let me see if I have this straight.  You experienced first hand what a horrible idea an open bar for a short amount of time is and yet you are still planning on doing it anyway?!!?

    Host what you can afford.  If you have an open bar then it needs to be an open bar for your entire reception.  If you can't afford that, then just have beer and wine.
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  • I have not went to a wedding where the time was limited for an open bar. I think that a better idea may be to host only beer, wine and a signature drink if that's all you can afford or not serve any liquor at all. We are not having alcohol for a few reasons; our venue does not allow it, I dont want to worry about anyone drinking and driving or getting drunk and acting stupid, we are only having punch, water, and soda, and sparkling grape juice or cider for our toasts.
    I have went to a wedding where I did not know we had to pay for our drinks ( soda etc) and I felt really embaressed because I didn't bring any money, lucky for me the brides mom heard me tell the waitstaff this and told me she'd cover the drinks for me and my daughter * who was also invited*   This is my opinion of course but I think its rude to ask anyone to pay for anything at a wedding, most ppl don't expect this so they don't bring money with them, and it would stink to be stuck with a huge bar tab at the end of the evening you were not expecting. I hope this helps and congrats and good luck Laughing
  • The bar should be open for the entire duration of the reception.  If you can't afford it don't have it.  If you had a bad experience with it yourself why would you even consider doing it to your guests?
     
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  • Definitely don't do a cash bar for part of the wedding; it's rude to offer things at a charge to the guests. 

    Your polite options are: 1) scale down the bar to beer/wine only or whatever else you can afford for the whole time, 2) pony up the extra money and do the open bar the entire night, 3) tell your venue that you will pay for the bar up to a certain dollar amount and then close the bar once that amount has been reached but continue to host soft drinks and non-alcoholic beverages the whole time. 

    I think the first option is the obvious choice, but the other two are also acceptable etiquette-wise. 


  • I've gone to weddings with limited open bars and they suck, and frankly don't save you any money. The last one we went to, the sign was posted saying open bar would close at 7. They had one bartender and a line at least 50 people long trying to get drinks before the open bar closed. Then people would seriously get 5-7 drinks for themselves at a time, so they could get them before it started charging. I really don't think it saved the couple any money doing it that way, as many of those 5-7 drinks went to waste and were never drank.

    Host what you can afford for the WHOLE night, whether that is a totally open bar, just beer and wine, or no alcohol and only soda/water/tea/coffee.


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  • I'm not a fan of the bait and switch and I've experienced it.  When we know it's coming, we try to stock up so I'll have a wine in front of me that I can 'nurse' for a while.

    To prevent that, why not host what youc an afford all night?
  • Just do what you can afford.  If you can only afford beer and wine, then that's all you have. If you can't afford those for the whole night, then skip alcohol altogether.  Alcohol is not necessary.  It's rude to ask guests to pay for anything at your wedding.  
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  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    In Response to Re: Let reception guests know how long bar is "open" for upfront?:
    Definitely don't do a cash bar for part of the wedding; it's rude to offer things at a charge to the guests.  Your polite options are: 1) scale down the bar to beer/wine only or whatever else you can afford for the whole time, 2) pony up the extra money and do the open bar the entire night, 3) tell your venue that you will pay for the bar up to a certain dollar amount and then close the bar once that amount has been reached but continue to host soft drinks and non-alcoholic beverages the whole time.  I think the first option is the obvious choice, but the other two are also acceptable etiquette-wise. 
    Posted by NOLAbridealmost
    This.

    You've already experienced how bad and rude switching to a cash bar is.  Why would you want to do that to your guests?
  • I agree with what everyone is saying. We have an open bar for the duration of the night with wine, kegs, and soda. We are not having liqour because that adds up quick and we wanted to cut back somewhere. Most of the people are not heavy drinkers (with the exception of fiances groomsmen) so it shouldn't be a problem. We also figured that perhaps those who would not normally drink would take advantage of the open bar and go crazy with their drinks. (Maybe this wouldn't really happen but you have to admit it is a thought to consider...)

    Also, a good thing to consider is serving a completly open bar at the cocktail hour if you are having one. This could control your budget a bit as well.
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  • We are offering free beer/wine throughout the night with the option of guests paying cash for liquor if they dont want/like beer or wine.

    our venue will have a sign by the bar that states: open bar for beer and wine, liquour $xx..xx each or whatever. this way- we give what we can afford to our guests (beer and wine) and if they are too picky to drink what we are giving them , they can buy whatever they want. ;)

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  • Wh only had beer (2 kinds...domestic and inported) , wine (4 kinds ...semidry red and white and semi-sweet red and white from local wineries) and mulled wine (it was a winter wedding) at my daughter's wedding and I didn't hear any complaints.  It was an easy decision as we had to provide our own bar and that is all you can serve with a temporary license in our state.  We closed the bar an hour before the reception ended and our DJ gave everyone 45 minutes notice that the bar was going to close.  Only one person tried to get served after the bar closed.  There were about 125 adults at the reception and the total cost of the bar including a professional bartender was less that $1000.  Oh, we also had "bubbly" available for the toast and throughtout the evening.  We just had the DJ announce that people could get it at the bar if the wanted it for the toast, that cut down on waste as so many people don't really like it.  We did put bottles on the head tables.  
    In Response to Let reception guests know how long bar is "open" for upfront?:
    So I just attended a wedding where the "open bar" only lasted one hour--well 42 minutes to be exact.  Afterwards beer, wine and soda were no charge but we had to shell out $7-$9 per drink at the bar.  Not expecting this I didn't bring a lot of extra money with me as I was told earlier that the "open bar" would last longer.  My question is: would it be considered tacky to put placecards on each table so guests could read how long the "open bar" will last and how much approx. drinks would cost afterwards?  I heard several party guests complaining aboth the high costs of the drinks at the bar after they found out the "open bar" was closed.  I would rather my guests know kind of what to expect than to be shocked when they went to the bar for a drink for them and their date and only get back $1-$2 change from a twenty dollar bill.  The investment in the wedding is expensive enough and then to have to add another unexpected $40-$60+ per couple to the night for additional mixed drinks left a sour note with some guests.  I certainly don't want that reaction at my reception.
    Posted by Kaisermust
  • I understand your dilemna.
    My fiance is from Chicago where there is always open bar, nothing else.
    I'm from a small town in Nebraska where it's great if the bride/groom buy a keg and the keg is free - all other drinks you pay for.
    Our reception is in my hometown.

    So, to try to meet both groups of people's bar needs, as well as our budget concerns, here is our game plan.

    Open bar (wine, liquor, beer) during cocktail hour (5-7)
    Closing the bar for dinner but have wine on the tables.
    Re-opening the bar at 8:30 - and at this point will probably do cash bar. This is still up for debate.

    My other concern is that it is very NORMAL in my hometown for people to show up at the dance.  I know it may be against all of your wedding etiquette, but I know pretty much every person in my hometown and that's just the way it is - I've had people tell me that they plan to be their for the dance.  With that being said, I don't want to pay for their drinks, so that is probably why we will do a cash bar for the dance.  (Plus, drinks are like $2-3 per drink in my hometown).

    We will have a sign at the bar, the DJ will make announcements, and we will do our best to find a happy medium with all of our guests.

    Also, we got our wine for $2 a bottle - from a distributor.  The bottles had bad labels on them (crooked, dirty, cut, etc).  So, we soaked them off and made our own labels.  The red wine will have a label for the table number as well. 
  • Facing a similar situation as PP. I come from a small town, and a cash bar is the norm. Recently I attended a wedding with a 50K budget, it was spectacular and they seemed to think of everything, but even they had a cash bar. I've encountered a few open bars since moving to the city, and a couple of bars that were open for a while, then switched to cash.

    Everyone involved with planning my wedding (family, close friends) keep saying I should have a cash bar.
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