August 2012 Weddings

What would you do????

So we went for our tasting yesterday at our venu, and picked out our menu.  My parents went with us for this, and we hashed out the details of the day and event with the banquet coordinator.  Then we got to the discussion of the bar......

It is not normal for there to be an open bar in our area.  About 90% of weddings in our area do a cash bar.  From the start we wanted to host pop, iced tea, water, and lemonade. Then have a keg of Bud Light and a keg of Blue Moon hosted.  FI and I had said we would be paying for that since we knew it wasn't something that was usually done, and it was something we both wanted. It also wasn't in my parents' original budget that they had given us.

Well my dad told the banquet manager yesterday that he wanted an open bar for the night, and would be paying for it. She warned him of how much the average open bar ends up being in our area, and how much he would expect to pay.  She said to expect between $5-6,000. Both FI and I explained to my dad there that we did not expect that from them, and do not necessarily want an open bar. (FI's step-mom's side of the family are major alcoholics and enjoy getting stupidly drunk and causing a mess).

So, my dad offered to us afterwards that he will give us $6,000 to put towards an open bar, and we can choose whether we want to have it or not.  Then if we decide not to have it, we can just pocket that money and use it to pay off debt, save for something we want, or use it towards the honeymoon.

Here's where we're at. 
1. We would kind of like to have an open bar, but we know it isn't expected around here and our guests are used to a cash bar.
2. We had only planned to host keg beer and pop from the start, so we know we would be fine with keeping our original game plan and just pocketing the extra cash.
3. We don't need the money and feel kind of bad if the money is intended toward the wedding and we choose to use it towards something else.  
4. We also have a fear that we're going to wish we would have had an open bar. Any wedding we've been to that has had one, we've found we stay much longer than we normally would, and everyone has a blast.
5. We don't want to look back a year from now and wish we would've had one.  We also don't want to look back and wished we would have taken that money to save up for something we wanted.

What would you ladies do?

Re: What would you do????

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    Where I'm from, an open bar is customary.  I think it would be a great investment, because you're right...people are looser, and usually stay longer, and I think everyone has a great time!
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    I would NOT do an open bar, my FIs family is also REALLY into drinking and getting TOO Crazy, we talked about doing one too but that detail just kept weighing on my mind. What if someone gets sick, or ruins, something that you will then have to pay for? I know those are what if's but it is YOUR Wedding and all the work going into it that could be ruined by someone drinking to much. So we did a Split, we are buying 2 drinks per Adult (We are having lemonade, tea and stuff too) then after that they will be switching the bar to a cash bar. I would put the cash toward something else, honeymoon? extra detail you wanted but was out of budget? or debt? or even save it for a down payment on a house or something. Dont feel bad, your dad wouldnt have offered it if he couldnt afford it. I am sure no matter what you choose it wil turn out AMAZING!

    Hope that helps : ) 
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    Since an open bar seems to be atypical in your area. What about hosting just beer and wine. You would likely use a fraction of that money and can save the rest to put towards something else in life that you feel its better spent- since your dad already suggested that.

    I also have to say I think 5-6k is a WAY overestimte on an open bar.Accodring to this article I just read I live in one of the top 5 most expensive places in the US to host a wedding.
    With that said, our open bar (full open bar, mid shelf brands) is costing us $2000. If we went to top shelf brands, we would be paying around $3500.

    Unless you ahve a 300 person guest list I can  not imagine that you would spend tha tmuch money.

    The other option is to put a $2000 cap on the bar, THe drinks are free until you reach that cap- say for 2 hours open bar- then it is cash after that. That's plenty of time for people to et loosened up and prohibitive for the people that like to booze to get too drunk.

    Also, don't forget your venue likely has an insurance policy. Ask them if they are TIPS certified. This means they have the right to and are legally bound to cut someone off they think is too drunk.
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    Why don't you do a open bar for cocktail hour and maybe one hour after that shut it down. It might be half the money and you can pocket the other half.
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    What about a limited, but open, bar?  We're doing beer and wine, and if budget permits, a signature drink.
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    I think an open bar would be a lovely surprise to your guests. I know if I was a guest it would make your wedding more stand outish from the rest of the weddings in the area. Plus if people can drink the drink they want they might have more fun! 
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    We had discussed doing just beer and wine, but the wine is actually more expensive than the mixed drinks. So we would be better off hosting mixed drinks.

    The amount we're basing it on is my cousin's wedding last fall.  She had a full open bar during cocktail hour and dinner, then switched it to just the draft beer and wine for the rest of the night.   They spent $2,800 for that, at the same venue as we have. So we figured 7 hours worth of open bar, during cocktail hour, dinner, and till midnight.

    Our guest list is at 275 people, and we're "planning for" 250 guests.

    We're just afraid things will get out of hand with FI's step-mom's family, but we know at my cousin's wedding we wouldn't have stayed as long as we did if it was a cash bar.
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    What if you just do what your cousin did? That sounds ample then you have around $3000 left to put toward the honeymoon,  a down payment on a house, a retirement savings fund,  a college savings fund for future children,  or new furntiure in a house
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    With the concern around FIs family of drinkers, I would lean towards not having it.  You could buy friends/family drinks and 'run up' a tab for those you would like to extend a free drink to without having everyone sloppy drunk.  I really can't imagine looking back at my wedding and regretting a decision to save money.  Especially when a year from now you can look at how you spent that money (house, car, honeymoon, etc) and not wish away that car or amazing trip you had.

    My parents are also giving us $$ to do whatever we want with whether to cover wedding expenses, or pocket.  We are sticking to our frugal budget because that $$ will be much better spent constructing a future rather than throwing a party.   Cash bar is the norm here in WI and we are going with that, offering free beer & soda only. Just my opinion.
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    I think point number 3 would make this decision the trickiest.  It's tough to accept such a generous offer even when used toward an open bar, but even harder to accept it and apply it towards something else.  Only looking at this part of the equation, I would plan on an open bar.  As a perk, your guests will love it!  If you're really not comfortable with a completely open bar everyone who has posted so far have had good ideas for compromises!
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    I think PPs have had some great ideas for compromises.  It is all about knowing your family, friends, and other guests - what would go over well or what would be problematic.  
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    I reallyreally hate cash bars, so I would go for at least a partial open bar. Would your venue let you host beer/wine/soft drinks and then bring in some hard liquors of your own? That's what ours is doing, so we've lowered the total we're paying the venue and we're going to bring in some of our own alcohol, purchased from a wholesaler to save some money. You could have the best of both worlds- open bar for less than the $6000 you're being quoted.
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    We decided to have a morning wedding with a lunch reception just for this reason....we can in no way, shape or form afford an open bar....we're paying for x-amount of beer, the champagine toast, and soda (our venue is charging something like 2.25 a liter of soda..yikes) wine and other drinks are at the guests' expence.  But in your situation, I think that open bar during cocktail hour/dinner is good....In my opinion, our guests are coming to share in our joy, not take advantage of free booze
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    Thank you SO much for all of your help and input ladies!!!

    I think we've decided to go with keg beer hosted all night, and mixed drinks and wine included during cocktail hour and dinner.  Then it won't be as expensive as a full open bar all night long.  We just are having a hard time fathoming spending that kind of money on booze for the whole night, especially when an open bar isn't the norm for our area.
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