Reception Ideas

Open Bar Dilemma

We are on a really strict budget and have pretty much maxed out.  We want to have alcohol at the wedding but we can't afford it.  Included in the price per person is unlimited beer so there is atleast that offered but right now, the liquor option stands as a cash bar.  I think its rude to have your guests pay for anything at a party you are hosting so should we cut out the liquor that is a cash bar and just do open beer?  My fiance and his parents think that since we are offering something such as beer for free that having the liquor is fine because atleast we are providing some sort of alcohol for free and then it can be the guests choice to buy alcohol is the beer is not enough.  What do you think? 
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Re: Open Bar Dilemma

  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
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    You are right.  It is inappropriate to charge for anything.  If all you can afford is beer, just have beer.  If all you can afford is soda, just have soda.  If you can swing it, I would try to figure out a way to add on a few bottles of wine and do beer/wine, though.  

    By your IL's logic, it would also be appropriate to offer chicken, but to offer your guests an upgrade to steak on their dime.  
  • In Response to Re: Open Bar Dilemma:
    You are right.  It is inappropriate to charge for anything.  If all you can afford is beer, just have beer.  If all you can afford is soda, just have soda.  If you can swing it, I would try to figure out a way to add on a few bottles of wine and do beer/wine, though.   By your IL's logic, it would also be appropriate to offer chicken, but to offer your guests an upgrade to steak on their dime.  
    Posted by MyNameIsNot
    Ditto

    I agree that maybe a bottle of white and a bottle of red wine on each table might be a nice touch if you can swing it.  Any kind of cash bar is terribly rude.  Don't let your IL make you do something you are not comfortable with.  
  • You're right, a cash bar is rude.  Go with just beer and see if you can work into the budget wine for non-beer drinkers, even if it's just wine on the tables or served with dinner.
  • I agree 100% with MyNameisNot
  • While it may be rude-- I am providing a champagne toast and a bottle of white and red wine on each table PLUS the option of a full bar.

    Does that work or still sound tacky???

    We also have the option to add say $500 to an open bar then when it runs out people are charged...?

  • I don't think having a cash bar is rude, expecially since you are having free beer. Everyone knows a wedding cost a ton and they are there to celebrate your marriage, not see how much free stuff they can get. At least you will give people the option to have liquor if they choose, and remember no one is forcing them to buy their drinks...

    We are having an open bar (beer & Liq,) at our recpetion, 1, because we are supplying it ourseleves and don't have to pay per person (cheaper) and 2, because frankly I don't like beer.... and I know a lot of other people don't like beer either....
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  • What I think is contrary to common etiquette. Etiquette states that you should have only beer and not a cash bar.  However, as a wedding guest, I would not appreciate that. I don't drink beer and I would really want the opportunity to buy myself a wine so I would like that you had the cash bar.  If you went this route, I think you should do a sign that says Beer complimentary and then lists the costs of the other beverages so people don't order something and then get surprised that it costs them money.  If it is possible, can you get them to add wine to the list without any other liquor?  
  • I'm still fairly new to weddings and not always up to date on etiquette.  Plus, I still think the wedding is about the couple, not the favors. =P

    I think if you state explicitly on the invitation that a full bar, but not an open bar, will be available, people will be able to plan for that.  Most people that I know, married or not, understand the cost and burden that the word "wedding" brings, whether you want that burden or not.  And really, if alcohol is that important to your guests, they'll be willing to pitch in to take care of that cost, regardless of tact on your part.

    At least for table wine, you might want to just run down to Trader Joe's and grab some three-buck-Chuck (or other local liquor store that has similarly priced wine).  There are some decent bottles out there for less than $5, and you can often get discounts buying in case quantities.  Anybody that makes a fuss about the quality of wine at your table clearly has the wrong priorities for your wedding day.
  • In Response to Re: Open Bar Dilemma:
    And really, if alcohol is that important to your guests, they'll be willing to pitch in to take care of that cost, regardless of tact on your part.
    Posted by asliceofpi
    I strongly disagree with this statement.  You're saying that guests should pay for your wedding and that's just not ok.  You might be ok with guests "taking care of the cost" but your guests won't be.....And that's what etiquette is all about.

    I'm not saying you HAVE to have alcohol but just to have the wedding you can afford.  Even if its a dry one.


  • I would try to swing free wine and beer. See if you can negotiate that and cut down on an appetizer or something little people might not miss? We are having wine and beer for the entire event, but if someone wants liquor, it is cash. We felt like that was pretty reasonable, as most people are happy with wine or beer, and the alcohol content isn't as high, at least not in beer, so we don't need to worry as much about people driving later on.
  • In Response to Re: Open Bar Dilemma:
    I would try to swing free wine and beer. See if you can negotiate that and cut down on an appetizer or something little people might not miss? We are having wine and beer for the entire event, but if someone wants liquor, it is cash. We felt like that was pretty reasonable, as most people are happy with wine or beer, and the alcohol content isn't as high, at least not in beer, so we don't need to worry as much about people driving later on.
    Posted by kpe04379
    This is the worst myth I've ever heard.  Plenty of people get drunk off of beer and wine and should not be driving.  Don't use that as an excuse to be rude to your guests.  If you were that concerned, you would have a dry wedding.  Or you could use common sense and trust that your adult guests will conduct themselves properly.  Not to mention that the bartender will also be responsible for making sure that everyone is in the condition to leave on their own (or in a cab).  
  • Ditto Goldie.  I've gotten way more buzzed on beer than I ever have on harder liquors.
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  • I think if you state explicitly on the invitation that a full bar, but not an open bar, will be available, people will be able to plan for that.

    Nothing about the bar should go on the invitations.

    I don't understand why people think of alcohol as an afterthought.  How is it not part of your planning and budgeting from the beginning like the food or your dress?
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  • In Response to Re: Open Bar Dilemma:
    I think if you state explicitly on the invitation that a full bar, but not an open bar, will be available, people will be able to plan for that. Nothing about the bar should go on the invitations. I don't understand why people think of alcohol as an afterthought.  How is it not part of your planning and budgeting from the beginning like the food or your dress?
    Posted by quotequeen
    I'm so glad that you posted this.  I get so frustrated with these posts.  Alcohol should be decided upon and budgeted for when you book the venue and caterer; which, are usually some of the first vendors that are booked.  You don't have a date until you have a venue and caterer (unless you are self catering).  
  • In Response to Re: Open Bar Dilemma:
    I would try to swing free wine and beer. See if you can negotiate that and cut down on an appetizer or something little people might not miss? We are having wine and beer for the entire event, but if someone wants liquor, it is cash. We felt like that was pretty reasonable, as most people are happy with wine or beer, and the alcohol content isn't as high, at least not in beer, so we don't need to worry as much about people driving later on.
    Posted by kpe04379
    My late FIL was an alcoholic who never touched a drop of hard liquor.  Only beer.  Please don't use that silly excuse for not providing hard liquor.

    Having wine and beer, along with soft drinks, coffee and tea is just fine.  Don't make lame excuses about not having anything else. 
    "Trix, it's what they/our parents wanted. Why so judgemental? And why is your wedding date over a year and a half ago? And why do you not have a groom's name? And why have you posted over 12,000 posts? And why do you always say mean things to brides?" palegirl146
  • It must be a regional thing but where I live all the weddings I have been to have cash bars. I typically will see the host offering beer and maybe a signiture drink but anything else is cash. For the weddings I have been in the bride and groom gave the bridal party tickets for a few complimentary drinks but the rest of the night was on us. I think as long as you offer something on the house that is fantastic. The only weddings I have been frustrated with are the ones where I have to pay for pop!
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  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
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    In Response to Re: Open Bar Dilemma:
    I think if you state explicitly on the invitation that a full bar, but not an open bar, will be available, people will be able to plan for that. Nothing about the bar should go on the invitations. I don't understand why people think of alcohol as an afterthought.  How is it not part of your planning and budgeting from the beginning like the food or your dress?
    Posted by quotequeen
    Yes!

    I don't understand how you can book a venue without checking to see if you can cover the food and bev there.  That's the first thing we looked at with spaces! 
  • I never understood that either.  We only looked at places that would let us BYOB so that we could spend a few hundred instead of a couple thousand on the bar.
  • I do not agree with common etiquette either.  Where I am from open bars are not common at all. I have been to many more cash bar weddings than open bar weddings, and I go to a wedding with the assumption I will pay for my own liquor. I think that you need to take your social circle into account when planning your wedding.  Think about who you are inviting and what your experiences at weddings have been. But I do think any of the choices you give your guests will be fine.

  • Maybe you can do beer and wine only.  I'm not sure how the bar works with where your reception is but maybe you can buy a couple boxes of boxed wine from a liquor store and use it? They're really cheap, like $15 a box and each box serves about 30 glasses of wine or so. I think it would more than enough to offer free beer and wine and if anyone wants any liquor then they can purchase it.

    I also like the signature drink as well. Many people do this with one or two signature drinks.
  • aerinpegadrakaerinpegadrak
    10000 Comments 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
    member
    edited July 2010
    In Response to Re: Open Bar Dilemma:
    I don't understand why people think of alcohol as an afterthought.  How is it not part of your planning and budgeting from the beginning like the food or your dress?
    Posted by quotequeen
    Amen!  The reason we passed on our dream venue was that there was no conceivable way we could afford the bar; it was consumption only, the prices were way too high, and we couldn't bring in our own alcohol.  Part of the reason we went with the caterer we did was that he offered a nice flat rate on beer and wine (we couldn't afford to add hard liquor to the package, so we didn't have any).

    The only thing that people remember in the long run about a wedding is the food, booze, and entertainment.  Shouldn't those be the first three things you figure out and budget for?
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    Sometimes I feel like people think that brides are delicate little flower princesses who get all dressed up and pretty for one special moment of their dreams, when really they're just normal people who just happen to be getting married. Things shouldn't have to be sugar-coated for grown-ass women. -mstar284
  • What a sad persepctive on weddings...that all anyone remembers is the food booze and entertainment.  I strongly disgree.  Of all the weddings I have been to, I only remember the food at one.  I don't remember who had open or cash bars, nor do I remember being annoyed when I had to pay to drink. 
    I do remember people's first songs. touching moments in speeches, and aspects of the ceremony. 
    We are having an open bar, because our venue happens to let us bring our own alcohol in and we can afford it.  However, I was tempted not to have liquor at all.  The wedding is about the union of two people, in front of their loved ones and celebrating the journey they are embarking on.  Not about getting hammered, stuffed or showered with favors.  If the people coming to your wedding truly care about you and want to celebrate your joyful day, they won't be concerned with the liquor.
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  • In Response to Re: Open Bar Dilemma:
    What a sad persepctive on weddings...that all anyone remembers is the food booze and entertainment.  I strongly disgree.  Of all the weddings I have been to, I only remember the food at one.  I don't remember who had open or cash bars, nor do I remember being annoyed when I had to pay to drink.  I do remember people's first songs. touching moments in speeches, and aspects of the ceremony.  We are having an open bar, because our venue happens to let us bring our own alcohol in and we can afford it.  However, I was tempted not to have liquor at all.  The wedding is about the union of two people, in front of their loved ones and celebrating the journey they are embarking on.  Not about getting hammered, stuffed or showered with favors.  If the people coming to your wedding truly care about you and want to celebrate your joyful day, they won't be concerned with the liquor.
    Posted by fyrefairie
    Right... because it's impossible to have a drink or two over many hours without getting drunk /sarcasm

    I don't know what is wrong with people that any alcohol equals drunkenness.  I've gone to events and dinners plenty of times and had a drink or two.  Amazingly, I wasn't anywhere near drunk.

    Say what you want, the bride and groom should be a proper host.  
  • I don't ever drink enough at a wedding to get drunk, but I am highly appreciative of Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc or a lager with my dinner and perhaps a rum & coke while socializing.  I'm just as highly appreciative if there's raspberry iced tea, sweet tea or root beer available.
  • tsp698tsp698
    10 Comments
    member
    In Response to Re: Open Bar Dilemma:
    I do not agree with common etiquette either.  Where I am from open bars are not common at all. I have been to many more cash bar weddings than open bar weddings, and I go to a wedding with the assumption I will pay for my own liquor. I think that you need to take your social circle into account when planning your wedding.  Think about who you are inviting and what your experiences at weddings have been. But I do think any of the choices you give your guests will be fine.
    Posted by amyl2585
    I agree, I have been to many a wedding where wine & beer was free, but it was a cash bar for the liquor, and I never thought anything of it, and neither has anyone in my family.

    I do not agree with all the people that say that if all you can afford is beer & wine than that is all you should offer. I want to know how providing the option of cocktails is rude? Yes the guest has to pay, but they are not required to have a cocktail. I know of several relatives and friends that don't like beer or wine and would be happy that  there was the option of purchasing a drink.



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  • In Response to Re: Open Bar Dilemma:
    In Response to Re: Open Bar Dilemma : I agree, I have been to many a wedding where wine & beer was free, but it was a cash bar for the liquor, and I never thought anything of it, and neither has anyone in my family. I do not agree with all the people that say that if all you can afford is beer & wine than that is all you should offer. I want to know how providing the option of cocktails is rude? Yes the guest has to pay, but they are not required to have a cocktail. I know of several relatives and friends that don't like beer or wine and would be happy that  there was the option of purchasing a drink.
    Posted by tsp698
    If you are that concerned that people won't like what you are offering, then host more than just beer and wine.  Would you have the option for those who prefer seafood to pay for an upgrade?  No, right?  

    It is a guest's obligation to graciously accept what the host is offering.  
  • Okay Goldie... you've stated how you feel and gave her your ADVICE (which is what these boards are all about) you don't need to continuously attack other peoples posts that they are writing to HER. Find something else to do other than cutting down on others advice please.
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  • In Response to Re: Open Bar Dilemma:
    Okay Goldie ... you've stated how you feel and gave her your ADVICE (which is what these boards are all about) you don't need to continuously attack other peoples posts that they are writing to HER. Find something else to do other than cutting down on others advice please.
    Posted by delwell
    I'm not attacking people. If I were, the moderator would have taken down my posts.  And who exactly are you to tell me what to do with my time?
  • In Response to Re: Open Bar Dilemma:
    Okay Goldie ... you've stated how you feel and gave her your ADVICE (which is what these boards are all about) you don't need to continuously attack other peoples posts that they are writing to HER. Find something else to do other than cutting down on others advice please.
    Posted by delwell
    A lot of times, discussions emerge within the thread that have nothing to do with the OP.  Stop trying to be the board police, it's not your job.
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    Sometimes I feel like people think that brides are delicate little flower princesses who get all dressed up and pretty for one special moment of their dreams, when really they're just normal people who just happen to be getting married. Things shouldn't have to be sugar-coated for grown-ass women. -mstar284
  • In Response to Re: Open Bar Dilemma:
    In Response to Re: Open Bar Dilemma : Right... because it's impossible to have a drink or two over many hours without getting drunk /sarcasm I don't know what is wrong with people that any alcohol equals drunkenness.  I've gone to events and dinners plenty of times and had a drink or two.  Amazingly, I wasn't anywhere near drunk. Say what you want, the bride and groom should be a proper host.  
    Posted by Goldlie11
    I don't think any alcohol equals drunkeness, but I do find the people who complain about cash bars most often are the ones who tend to get wasted, in general in my expereince.
    The guests are already being fed, entertained and favored.  AS Isaid, I am providing an open bar because we can afford it.  But for those folks who really would like a glass of wine with dinner I would think they;d rather have a cash bar than no bar if the bride and groom can budget for alcohol.
    My point was that I don't recall ever having been offended or put out when there was a cash bar at the wedding. I was there to celebrate my friends'/family members' union, I was being fed, and honored with the invitation...I don't mind paying for a glass of wine. 
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