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Etiquette

Wine service during dinner?

So my FMIL has offered to host the bar for us.  She doesn't want people to get too drunk, apparently his side has a history of getting a little out of hand, so she wanted to do open bar (with liquor) during the cocktail hour, switch to wine service during dinner (a red and white on each table), and then go back to open bar for the remainder of the reception.

a) Is this etiquette appropriate?  All of it would be fully hosted.
b) Would it confuse guests to do a switch like this?
c) What would be the best way to let people know?
d) Has anyone been to something like this?  Did knowing that it was going to be switched to a wine service during dinner make people down drinks?


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Re: Wine service during dinner?

  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    I don't think this is a good idea.  1st, if your FMIL is worried about people getting out of hand, then the only solution is having a dry reception.  People who want to actively get shit faced will do so whether it be on beer and wine or hard liquor.

    Many people don't like to switch between drinks, it makes many people ill, so once they start drinking a mixed drink during cocktail hour, they will likely not switch to wine for dinner, only to go back to mixed drinks later.  Your guests will likely be annoyed by this and if they have a heads up about the switch, will likely attempt to stock up on whatever they are drinking during cocktail hour, so that it will last them during dinner.  That will cause a line at the bar and drink hoarding.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


    lc07hikebikebemerry
  • I've been to wedding where the bar closed completely during dinner.  People tended to grab two drinks right before sitting down if they found out.

    Only serving wine during dinner isn't goign to stop people from getting drunk. I've gotten pretty drunk off of wine before.

    We thought about doing this, but it was actually more expensive than just leaving the bar open.

    I don't think it's against etiquette, but it just seems silly - if People want to get drunk, they'll get drunk off of the wine instead.

    PrettyGirlLostdoeydoKeptInStitcheshikebikebemerry
  • indianaalumindianaalum member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited March 2014
    So my FMIL has offered to host the bar for us.  She doesn't want people to get too drunk, apparently his side has a history of getting a little out of hand, so she wanted to do open bar (with liquor) during the cocktail hour, switch to wine service during dinner (a red and white on each table), and then go back to open bar for the remainder of the reception.

    a) Is this etiquette appropriate?  All of it would be fully hosted.
    b) Would it confuse guests to do a switch like this?
    c) What would be the best way to let people know?
    d) Has anyone been to something like this?  Did knowing that it was going to be switched to a wine service during dinner make people down drinks?


    I don't know if this helps, BUT I know a ton of venues around here do this

    Open bar cocktail hour
    close during dinner with wine and champagne at dinner on tables (unlimited)
    open bar for rest of the night.

    It seems the norm in this area and nobody ever seems to question it. I don't think anyone had to "down" the drink because the are allowed to bring it to the table for dinner.

    If yo prefer, you can just warn people that the bar closes during dinner and that way they can stock up.

    Every venue I went looking at seemed to have this same plan...and it seemed to be the norm at all the weddings I have attended. I didn't do it a "cost" option. It's just how all the venues worked, so I really had no choice.

    Realistically, most people are eating their dinner so they aren't necessarily getting up to get drinks anyhow. Wine and/or champagne at dinner seems sufficient. IMO

    p.s. I don't think it will curb drinking, but I don't think it is horrible etiquette wise either
    hikebikebemerry
  • I don't think this is a good idea.  1st, if your FMIL is worried about people getting out of hand, then the only solution is having a dry reception.  People who want to actively get shit faced will do so whether it be on beer and wine or hard liquor.

    Many people don't like to switch between drinks, it makes many people ill, so once they start drinking a mixed drink during cocktail hour, they will likely not switch to wine for dinner, only to go back to mixed drinks later.  Your guests will likely be annoyed by this and if they have a heads up about the switch, will likely attempt to stock up on whatever they are drinking during cocktail hour, so that it will last them during dinner.  That will cause a line at the bar and drink hoarding.
    This is a super good point. I often won't even switch kinds of BEER over the course of a night.
    PrettyGirlLosthikebikebemerry
  • I actually think a lot of people do this to keep people in their seats during dinner.  If the wine is at the table or being served table side, people remain seated during dinner service and during the toasts and first dances and what not.  
    sexy, harry styles, best song ever, cute, beautiful, asdjglñlñ, marcel
    lc07hikebikebemerry
  • photokittyphotokitty where I want to be mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    Every wedding I have ever been to that had an open bar closed the bar during dinner, at least as far as I can remember. A handful had table service wine.

    I usually get a drink before the bar closed to have with dinner. If I was offered wine at dinner I would not be confused, I would accept or decline just as I do coffee table service. I don't think people will drink any more than the would otherwise if the bar closes during dinner. I don't think it will stop people from getting drunk though either.

    Do they get drunk on shots? You can not allow your venue to serve shots. If they get drunk on beer, wine or mixed drinks, the only option is to have bartenders cut off drunk people. Which they are liable if they don't, so they should be doing this anyway.

    GL! :)
    :kiss: ~xoxo~ :kiss:

    hikebikebemerry
  • I don't think this is a good idea.  1st, if your FMIL is worried about people getting out of hand, then the only solution is having a dry reception.  People who want to actively get shit faced will do so whether it be on beer and wine or hard liquor.

    Many people don't like to switch between drinks, it makes many people ill, so once they start drinking a mixed drink during cocktail hour, they will likely not switch to wine for dinner, only to go back to mixed drinks later.  Your guests will likely be annoyed by this and if they have a heads up about the switch, will likely attempt to stock up on whatever they are drinking during cocktail hour, so that it will last them during dinner.  That will cause a line at the bar and drink hoarding.
    Actually, from my experience, it really does work out and people aren't rushing the bar.

    give a heads up and it really does work out. They can absolutely bring their drink to the dinner table.


    hikebikebemerry
  • Adults generally don't like being told what they will drink and when. I've been to a few weddings like this and they were not as enjoyable as it could have been (speaking for many guests, including myself). 

    Serve wine with dinner, but keep the bar open for your guests who prefer something other than wine to drink.

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    PrettyGirlLosthikebikebemerry
  • InkdancerInkdancer The Shire member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    If there is any alcohol at all, people who want to get drunk will get drunk. Hell, I've had people threaten to sneak flasks into my dry wedding because they want to get drunk. People aren't going to get any more trashed than they want to just because drinks are on you.
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    hikebikebemerry
  • I personally don't see how it would help people stop from getting drunk, I too have gotten plenty drunk on wine.  I hadn't heard of this before, so I didn't know where to go with it.

    We had already met the bar manager who will (likely) be working at our wedding, they're pretty strict about not over-serving, and I trust them not to.  The more I think about it, I would rather just have the same bartenders serving people the entire night, that way they can more easily keep track of how much everyone is drinking, whereas if there are just bottles of wine on the table, people are not being closely monitored and could drink a whole bottle by themselves during the course of dinner.

    FI and I haven't had a chance to talk about it, so I'm going to see how he feels about it.  He was there when we were talking about it, but always takes some time to digest ideas.
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  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    Honestly, as a guest, I wouldn't care. But it seems unnecessarily complicated.
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  • I've been to a few weddings that do this, as a cost saving measure (because their package only included 3 hours of an open bar, for a 5 hour reception). I think it's silly to think this will keep things from getting out of hand. When I've seen things get crazy at weddings, it's during cocktail hour, when people haven't had any food + are downing drinks, or towards the end of the evening, after 2+ hours of dancing + drinking. 
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    PrettyGirlLosts-aries8990hikebikebemerry
  • I went to a wedding once where the open bar shut down during dinner and it was wine only. As a guest it's annoying if you don't know. If you do know, fine grab your extra drink to get through dinner. If I'm drinking liquor and I know the bar is opening back up, I won't drink wine. Too much switching of alcohol never works out well for me. Also, how would I know though that it will open back up to a full bar later? I would just assume the open bar is over and then I'd probably just get drunk on wine.

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  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Limiting the bar selections will do nothing to stop anyone from getting drunk.

    The only way to do that is to have a dry wedding.
    PrettyGirlLosthikebikebemerry
  • Another thing is to consider is that if the bar shuts down the only nonalcoholic drink available at the table is usually water.  So people who don't drink alcohol or want to skip the wine can't even get an iced tea or a soft drink.  
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  • About half of the weddings that I've been to have done this. Honestly I didn't even notice and most people didn't seem to care. Generally the weddings were larger (200-250 people), smaller weddings I've been to tended to leave the bar open the whole time. I attribute this to the couple's desire to keep people seated as much as possible during dinner (especially with large numbers of people). Honestly, it really didn't seem like a hassle for anyone. The bartenders casually let people know that there would be table service wine and that the bar would be closed from x time to y time. Nobody got upset or offended and honestly the bar was closed for maybe an hour (maybe slightly more). I don't think it's a big deal either way. As a guest, I am really not bothered by this. 
    indianaalumhikebikebemerry
  • I have been to weddings like this before. Here is what I did. I went to the bar during cocktail hour. I got several drinks. I had my SO do the same. We had plenty of booze to last us through dinner. Guests who want to get drunk will not only find a way to do it, they will view this as a challenge and possibly even be drunker than if you'd just let them have the booze to begin with. And realistically, that hour of dinner is not going to be enough to combat her concerns if her family drinks like mine does and it sounds like they do. So the question is, is it worth it to make your guests feel as though she's "cheaping out" on available alcohol for a solution that will most likely be ineffective. Probably not :)
    PrettyGirlLosthikebikebemerry
  • Most of the weddings I've been to close down for an hour during dinner (and they've all been plated meals) with wine served table-side, but usually there is a sign posted on the bar that it will close. I've never encountered a problem because the bar is usually open by the time people are half-way through their entrees. I feel like if it were a buffet set up I would have felt differently.
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    hikebikebemerrymbross3
  • lc07lc07 Sunny Southern California member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Another thing is to consider is that if the bar shuts down the only nonalcoholic drink available at the table is usually water.  So people who don't drink alcohol or want to skip the wine can't even get an iced tea or a soft drink.  

    **Stuck in the box**
    I totally agree with this! My husband would be like what? I have to drink water with dinner? He doesn't like alcohol and if you shut down your bar he wouldn't be able to get a soft drink. It just doesn't make sense to me to shut the bar down for dinner. People want to enjoy a drink of their choosing WITH their food.
    PrettyGirlLosthikebikebemerry
  • I think we can all agree that this isn't an etiquette issue though. This is more of a preference. I do agree with the fact that there should be some kind of sign at the bar, just so people can make sure to grab a drink to go with their dinner. Oh and a lot of the times, non-alcoholic beverages are still available even when the bar is closed. Or at least that's what I've experienced (I mean I see people drinking non-alcoholic bevs at weddings...not that I would ever do that.)
    sexy, harry styles, best song ever, cute, beautiful, asdjglñlñ, marcel
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  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    I actually think a lot of people do this to keep people in their seats during dinner.  If the wine is at the table or being served table side, people remain seated during dinner service and during the toasts and first dances and what not.  

    mbross3 said:
    About half of the weddings that I've been to have done this. Honestly I didn't even notice and most people didn't seem to care. Generally the weddings were larger (200-250 people), smaller weddings I've been to tended to leave the bar open the whole time. I attribute this to the couple's desire to keep people seated as much as possible during dinner (especially with large numbers of people). Honestly, it really didn't seem like a hassle for anyone. The bartenders casually let people know that there would be table service wine and that the bar would be closed from x time to y time. Nobody got upset or offended and honestly the bar was closed for maybe an hour (maybe slightly more). I don't think it's a big deal either way. As a guest, I am really not bothered by this. 
    Only one venue we looked at had this rule of closing down the open bar during dinner, and it was a venue rule and they really couldn't give us a good rationale behind doing it.

    Now if closing the bar during dinner is strictly coming from the B&G then I have to ask, why?  Why would a couple want to control guests' behavior like this?  So that everyone pays attention to their spotlight dances, etc?  I don't really pay attention to any of that stuff anyways beyond a passing glance for a minute or so- I am usually too busy talking to the people I am with. 

    So that people moving about aren't a disruption to the wait staff?  Well you can't stop me from getting up to go to the bathroom and also, how in the world do restaurants manage to function with all of those people coming and going and walking around etc?

    I get it to an extent if the couple has a bar package for like 4 hours, and the reception will last 5.  But doing it to keep ppl in their seats during dinner doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


    TeddiD34hikebikebemerry
  • Thanks for the feedback!  I'm glad to know that we wouldn't be breaking etiquette if this is the option that we went with, but I'm glad that my concerns that this could lead to confusion/ drink hoarding/ getting sick from switching types of drinks/ etc. was understandable.

    I really feel like I've catered to the people who can't control themselves with drinking my entire life, and I think it's incredibly unfair to the other guests who can drink, have a good time, but not get out of control.
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    PrettyGirlLostlc07
  • I think we can all agree that this isn't an etiquette issue though. This is more of a preference. I do agree with the fact that there should be some kind of sign at the bar, just so people can make sure to grab a drink to go with their dinner. Oh and a lot of the times, non-alcoholic beverages are still available even when the bar is closed. Or at least that's what I've experienced (I mean I see people drinking non-alcoholic bevs at weddings...not that I would ever do that.)
    Same here but my mom gets tipsy on a half a glass of wine so she sticks to iced tea in public.  She's the one I heard the complaint about not being able to get anything to drink during dinner hour from.  
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  • My brother and SIL closed down the bar completely during dinner at their wedding in October.  I don't think it was a huge deal, most people just ordered an extra drink right before dinner.  I'm pretty sure the bartenders told the guests that the bar would close for dinner and open afterwards.  HOWEVER, I would definitely let the wedding party know or have something for them already on the head table/king's table, etc, if you are having one.  I'm not sure how your timeline is working out, but at their wedding, the bridal party was announced as soon as we got to the reception venue and we went straight to our tables.  No drinks, other than water, for dinner.  Until they realized it halfway through dinner and brought out beers for the 12 of us at the king's table.  Brother and SIL got their drinks of choice, of course.  
  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I don't think doing this will stop people from getting drunk. They will either a) drink more wine or b) grab a drink or two before the bar closes down. And if the bar is "open" the rest of the time, closing down for 1-2 hours isn't going to stop people from drink too much- IME, most of the heavy drinking occurs during the dance portion, not during dinner anyway.

    I have been to a few weddings where the bar is closed during dinner with wine service only. My venue does this (open bar for cocktail hour, unlimited wine only during dinner, bar opens again). It was not a cost saving measure on our part (I'd leave the bar open)- it was the only option for the venue. The venue said it is to keep guests in their seats so they are not getting in the way of the servers during dinner. It does suck though if a guest doesn't drink wine. I even asked about guests who don't drink alcohol, what would they get? The venue told me water! Or, the person will need to go get them self a drink (even if it's pop) before the bar closes. We made sure to have our MC let the guests know the bar would be closing for dinner. 
  • I actually think a lot of people do this to keep people in their seats during dinner.  If the wine is at the table or being served table side, people remain seated during dinner service and during the toasts and first dances and what not.  

    mbross3 said:
    About half of the weddings that I've been to have done this. Honestly I didn't even notice and most people didn't seem to care. Generally the weddings were larger (200-250 people), smaller weddings I've been to tended to leave the bar open the whole time. I attribute this to the couple's desire to keep people seated as much as possible during dinner (especially with large numbers of people). Honestly, it really didn't seem like a hassle for anyone. The bartenders casually let people know that there would be table service wine and that the bar would be closed from x time to y time. Nobody got upset or offended and honestly the bar was closed for maybe an hour (maybe slightly more). I don't think it's a big deal either way. As a guest, I am really not bothered by this. 
    Only one venue we looked at had this rule of closing down the open bar during dinner, and it was a venue rule and they really couldn't give us a good rationale behind doing it.

    Now if closing the bar during dinner is strictly coming from the B&G then I have to ask, why?  Why would a couple want to control guests' behavior like this?  So that everyone pays attention to their spotlight dances, etc?  I don't really pay attention to any of that stuff anyways beyond a passing glance for a minute or so- I am usually too busy talking to the people I am with. 

    So that people moving about aren't a disruption to the wait staff?  Well you can't stop me from getting up to go to the bathroom and also, how in the world do restaurants manage to function with all of those people coming and going and walking around etc?

    I get it to an extent if the couple has a bar package for like 4 hours, and the reception will last 5.  But doing it to keep ppl in their seats during dinner doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
    This was just me expressing my experience, I totally get what you're saying. I just meant that the only time I have seen this happen was at very large weddings (my cousin's 300 person wedding, my friends 250 person wedding...). Maybe it was more the venue and not completely the bride and groom, but my cousin definitely expressed that she wanted people to stay in the dining room so that they could get the dance room set up the way she wanted, etc. during dinner. And having 300 people walking around, going up and back to the bar, etc. can be a lot to manage. 

    I did not mean to suggest that brides and grooms come along and want to arbitrarily dictate how much their guests move around! 
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    SP29 said:
    I don't think doing this will stop people from getting drunk. They will either a) drink more wine or b) grab a drink or two before the bar closes down. And if the bar is "open" the rest of the time, closing down for 1-2 hours isn't going to stop people from drink too much- IME, most of the heavy drinking occurs during the dance portion, not during dinner anyway.

    I have been to a few weddings where the bar is closed during dinner with wine service only. My venue does this (open bar for cocktail hour, unlimited wine only during dinner, bar opens again). It was not a cost saving measure on our part (I'd leave the bar open)- it was the only option for the venue. The venue said it is to keep guests in their seats so they are not getting in the way of the servers during dinner. It does suck though if a guest doesn't drink wine. I even asked about guests who don't drink alcohol, what would they get? The venue told me water! Or, the person will need to go get them self a drink (even if it's pop) before the bar closes. We made sure to have our MC let the guests know the bar would be closing for dinner. 
    Which seems very silly to me since restaurants deal with people entering, leaving, going to the bathroom, etc. all of the time.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    mbross3 said:
    I actually think a lot of people do this to keep people in their seats during dinner.  If the wine is at the table or being served table side, people remain seated during dinner service and during the toasts and first dances and what not.  

    mbross3 said:
    About half of the weddings that I've been to have done this. Honestly I didn't even notice and most people didn't seem to care. Generally the weddings were larger (200-250 people), smaller weddings I've been to tended to leave the bar open the whole time. I attribute this to the couple's desire to keep people seated as much as possible during dinner (especially with large numbers of people). Honestly, it really didn't seem like a hassle for anyone. The bartenders casually let people know that there would be table service wine and that the bar would be closed from x time to y time. Nobody got upset or offended and honestly the bar was closed for maybe an hour (maybe slightly more). I don't think it's a big deal either way. As a guest, I am really not bothered by this. 
    Only one venue we looked at had this rule of closing down the open bar during dinner, and it was a venue rule and they really couldn't give us a good rationale behind doing it.

    Now if closing the bar during dinner is strictly coming from the B&G then I have to ask, why?  Why would a couple want to control guests' behavior like this?  So that everyone pays attention to their spotlight dances, etc?  I don't really pay attention to any of that stuff anyways beyond a passing glance for a minute or so- I am usually too busy talking to the people I am with. 

    So that people moving about aren't a disruption to the wait staff?  Well you can't stop me from getting up to go to the bathroom and also, how in the world do restaurants manage to function with all of those people coming and going and walking around etc?

    I get it to an extent if the couple has a bar package for like 4 hours, and the reception will last 5.  But doing it to keep ppl in their seats during dinner doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
    This was just me expressing my experience, I totally get what you're saying. I just meant that the only time I have seen this happen was at very large weddings (my cousin's 300 person wedding, my friends 250 person wedding...). Maybe it was more the venue and not completely the bride and groom, but my cousin definitely expressed that she wanted people to stay in the dining room so that they could get the dance room set up the way she wanted, etc. during dinner. And having 300 people walking around, going up and back to the bar, etc. can be a lot to manage. 

    I did not mean to suggest that brides and grooms come along and want to arbitrarily dictate how much their guests move around! 
    I was just quoting you both since you both brought up interesting points that I wanted to comment on, no worries!

    The bolded makes sense.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • I think some venues that require this may use their bartenders as servers during the meal.
    PrettyGirlLost
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