Etiquette

Starting with full bar then switching to beer/wine/sig drink: Etiquette approved or bad hosting?

Hi everyone!

This board in particular has been extremely helpful. I have a question that's been nagging at me for awhile. I first thought it would be appropriate for the Food.Cake board, but now I realize it's probably a better fit for here. ANYWAY.

So my father has graciously offered to pay for our food and beverages. He's been involved in looking at estimates and selecting the caterer and I am making sure to get his approval on all decisions related to this particular expense. FI and I have been very grateful and he's honestly been really great, making it clear he wants this to be the wedding we want and that he's happy to contribute. But I still believe that he who pays gets a say, and I don't believe he should pay a dime for anything he doesn't want to.

He got re-married a couple of years ago and for the bar he had two hours of open bar and then switched to two hours of beer/wine only. He is big on this idea and believes it saves money and stops people from getting too drunk. The caterer suggested that if we want to save money we can do two hours of full and two hours of beer/wine/one or two signature drinks, which is a suggestion he liked. So the estimate he put a deposit on is based on that bar set-up. FI likes this idea too, though both of our initial hopes was to do full bar during the whole event, but after talking it over with the caterer and my dad we feel better about this.

However, these last few days I've been really starting to wonder if it's rude to do this. We'd be providing alcohol all night and would be sure to choose signature drinks that have as wide an appeal as possible, but I can't help wonder if switching what's offered is pulling the rug out from under our guests. I want to be a good host and if switching the bar offerings halfway through is bad hosting, then we will fund those two extra hours of full ourselves. Would not ask him to pay for that, of course, but again, if it's bad etiquette, then I don't want to do it.
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Re: Starting with full bar then switching to beer/wine/sig drink: Etiquette approved or bad hosting?

  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Well, it's inappropriate to have either a cash bar for any portion of the event, because your guests should not be expected to open their wallets at any time. Your reception is your thank-you to them for attending the ceremony, and no one appreciates being expected to pay for their own thank-you or to buy their own provisions at what is supposed to be a hosted event.

    It's also not appropriate to switch the amount of hospitality provided part-way through by way of saving yourselves money. The caterer who suggested that was not promoting politeness to your guests when doing so. Whatever you do decide to offer your guests, whether a full open bar, a limited bar, or no alcohol at all, must be available to your guests throughout the reception with no switching to or from a more limited selection later on.
  • I'm not having a cash bar. I'm sorry if I gave that impression. All alcohol provided would be hosted by us. But your second paragraph confirms what I was thinking. It's likely then that we will shell out for the full four hours of full bar, because that is one of our priorities for the wedding.
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  • I would not switch. I think it will lead to confusion.
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    Don't switch.
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
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  • huskypuppy14huskypuppy14 Boston Suburbs member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    You could just do beer/wine/sig drink for your whole reception if that's what you can afford...
    Yes, do this. You don't need to have full open bar at all. 

    Though, I will say, as long as you aren't making your guests pay for anything, it doesn't bother me if the cocktail hour is full open bar, and then switches to just beer and wine during the rests of the reception. I know that is an UO, so I agree it's probably not the best etiquette, but it's not even close to cash bar tackiness.
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    abbyj700japrincess24
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    You could just do beer/wine/sig drink for your whole reception if that's what you can afford...
    Yes, do this. You don't need to have full open bar at all. 

    Though, I will say, as long as you aren't making your guests pay for anything, it doesn't bother me if the cocktail hour is full open bar, and then switches to just beer and wine during the rests of the reception. I know that is an UO, so I agree it's probably not the best etiquette, but it's not even close to cash bar tackiness.
    What concerns me about this is that those beverages served the first two hours would still be on site. I would worry a guest would try to buy anything offered the first "round", instead of accepting the offerings of round 2. I would select one bar plan and maintain it throughout the night.
    [Deleted User]
  • Whatever you choose to offer should be available for the whole event.
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  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Agree with PPs - be consistent.
  • I agree with PPs. You should go with one or the other for the whole evening. If I was drinking Jack & Coke the first two hours and went to the bar to get another one, only to be told I can only have beer/wine/sig drink, I would be confused and a little miffed. 
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  • I think it's odd to switch the offerings halfway through. The only time I think it's works is a lot of weddings I've been to, the bar closes during dinner and only wine is offered table side. But then the full bar opens back up once dinner & dessert is served (if dessert is served immediately after dinner).

    I also never understood why beer and wine are thought to keep people from getting drunk. Have you ever seen a college kegger? Also I've seen my husband drink an entire bottle of red wine and get massively plastered. It's all alcohol, if people want to get drunk, they will.
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  • I agree with PPs. You should go with one or the other for the whole evening. If I was drinking Jack & Coke the first two hours and went to the bar to get another one, only to be told I can only have beer/wine/sig drink, I would be confused and a little miffed. 

    Can't bold because I'm on a phone, but please note the last line of this post, OP. If someone spends a couple hours drinking liquor, then must switch to a different type of alchol, THAT alone could cause drunkeness. Mixing alcohols is usually not a good idea, and while most people know this and will stick with their go-to, they can't stick with their go-to if you take it away and offer something else in its place. If all you offer is beer, wine, and a sig drink or two, your guests will *probably stick with one of those options.

    *note: This is meant to be just a general warning. I'm sure that some people can hold their alcohol just fine even when they're mixing, and of course i know that drinking just one type of alcohol doesn't prevent drunkeness.
  • RebeccaB88RebeccaB88 Figment of Your Imagination member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    You could do more than one signature drink, if you think one isn't enough or want more variety.  I've seen it done a groom's choice, bride's choice, and a generic choice that would be pleasing for almost anyone (margarita machine, frozen daquiri machine, a spiked punch, etc). 
  • NYCMercedesNYCMercedes BOS, NYC, DC. Forever a city girl member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Hi everyone!

    This board in particular has been extremely helpful. I have a question that's been nagging at me for awhile. I first thought it would be appropriate for the Food.Cake board, but now I realize it's probably a better fit for here. ANYWAY.

    So my father has graciously offered to pay for our food and beverages. He's been involved in looking at estimates and selecting the caterer and I am making sure to get his approval on all decisions related to this particular expense. FI and I have been very grateful and he's honestly been really great, making it clear he wants this to be the wedding we want and that he's happy to contribute. But I still believe that he who pays gets a say, and I don't believe he should pay a dime for anything he doesn't want to.

    He got re-married a couple of years ago and for the bar he had two hours of open bar and then switched to two hours of beer/wine only. He is big on this idea and believes it saves money and stops people from getting too drunk. The caterer suggested that if we want to save money we can do two hours of full and two hours of beer/wine/one or two signature drinks, which is a suggestion he liked. So the estimate he put a deposit on is based on that bar set-up. FI likes this idea too, though both of our initial hopes was to do full bar during the whole event, but after talking it over with the caterer and my dad we feel better about this.

    However, these last few days I've been really starting to wonder if it's rude to do this. We'd be providing alcohol all night and would be sure to choose signature drinks that have as wide an appeal as possible, but I can't help wonder if switching what's offered is pulling the rug out from under our guests. I want to be a good host and if switching the bar offerings halfway through is bad hosting, then we will fund those two extra hours of full ourselves. Would not ask him to pay for that, of course, but again, if it's bad etiquette, then I don't want to do it.

    Don't change. Just start with a moderately priced bar and continue with it.
  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    Your gut is right, it's rude to switch partway through the reception.  Either pay to make it full bar the entire time or cut back to offer the beer/wine/sig drinks the whole reception.
  • Gustafson28Gustafson28 Winterfell member
    Fourth Anniversary 500 Comments 100 Love Its Name Dropper
    If he insists on doing the bar split like that I would do the beer/wine/signs first then switch to full. Instead of pulling the rug out you give your guests more
  • If he insists on doing the bar split like that I would do the beer/wine/signs first then switch to full. Instead of pulling the rug out you give your guests more
    I can see how this would be better, and it's actually what my FI told me he thought we were going to do when I mentioned it to him. But I think all things considered, if it's not that much more, it'd be better to just stay consistent throughout the night.
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  • Gustafson28Gustafson28 Winterfell member
    Fourth Anniversary 500 Comments 100 Love Its Name Dropper
    If he insists on doing the bar split like that I would do the beer/wine/signs first then switch to full. Instead of pulling the rug out you give your guests more
    I can see how this would be better, and it's actually what my FI told me he thought we were going to do when I mentioned it to him. But I think all things considered, if it's not that much more, it'd be better to just stay consistent throughout the night.

    Oh for sure it's better to be consistent but sometimes it's hard to get everyone one the same page :)
  • Even worse than the switch causing some awkward moments between patron and bartender, is this..

    I drink hard liquor if it's an open bar. So when I was at a wedding that switched to cash bar after the first dance, I went from drinking fruity hard liquor drinks, to beer or wine. This made for a NASTY hangover. Had I known it was going to be beer and wine the rest of the evening, I would've started with wine and stayed there.

    Now, I know this is more a personal issue, but remembering someone's wedding for the hangover it left you isn't a great thing.

    That's just aside from all the other obvious etiquette errors that PPs have pointed out.
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