Wedding Reception Forum

How do I limit an open bar?

So here is the deal, my fiancee and I are having a bit of a disagreement on alcohol at the reception. His family is a HUGE group of drinkers that can start fights when they have drank too much (himself included) but I do not want to scratch the idea of being able to have alcohol at all at the reception because I would like some champagne and such for toasts and I know a few of my family members would like to indulge in a couple beers over the 4 hour reception. Is it possible to have an open bar but with a limit? For example, one or 2 drinks per person per hour? Has anybody else had this experience?

Re: How do I limit an open bar?

  • In Response to <a href="">How do I limit an open bar?</a>:
    [QUOTE] His family is a HUGE group of drinkers that can start fights when they have drank too much <strong>(himself included)</strong>
    Posted by hrymarz[/QUOTE]

    What a gem!  Wherever did you find such a wonderful specimen of a man?
  • no. an open bar is an open bar.

    and are you really worried abotu your FI drinking too much and starting a fight at his own wedding?! klassy!


  • There are a number of ways, but I would stay away from closing the bar early or giving drink vouchers.

    Many people limit what the bar offers. A good way to do that is to offer only beer and wine, no hard liquor. You can add on to this by providing champagne for the toast seperately, adding one "signature" mixed drink, stocking the bar with a very limited selection of liquor, etc. Basically, you're limiting the bar selection rather than individual guests. People can still get drunk, but hopefully not as quickly.

    You can also provide a list of people to watch for to the bartender, but it sounds like that would be a long list.
  • Another thing that may help you is getting drink tickets, which you can send out along with the invitations. However, I agree with mostly everyone else, I would stay clear from closing the bar because it can be taken as a sign that the reception is over. And do talk to the bartenders before hand and have them be extra careful for people who seem intoxicated. Good luck!
  • I've been to a wedding where they had an open bar for beer and wine only and asked the bartenders to refuse to serve shots.  The bride was pretty sly about it, she just asked the bartenders to tell the guests that it was against the rules of the venue or something along those lines.  She was also worried about people getting too drunk and starting fights.
    ...granted everybody just got incredibly drunk on beer, wine, and mixed drinks they paid for...
  • Make sure you have an experienced bartender (and perhaps tip him/her off that 'there may be a few 'problem drinkers').

    It may help to privately let the bartender know that you would not be offended if he felt it was appropriate to stop serving a guest... but really that's his job and there's probably no need.

    Tip your bartender well if he has to deal with cutting off a bunch of belligerent over-consumers!
  • I don't think doing only beer and wine really helps.

    It may definitely help the budget--but I think people will get just as drunk on beer/wine as they will on liquor.

  • I would talk to the venue/coordinator privately and just let them know that they may need to keep an eye out and cut some people off.  It will be hard to limit the drinking, and people may disappointed with no bar (I know my guests would), but people can certainly be cut off by the bartender.  My dad was cut off from a wedding a few years ago, it can definitely be done!
  • Well, I do sort of agree about limiting the drinks in stock, but maybe also try an espresso hour or something. If you have a menu, add to it that the last hour or so of the reception there will be espresso/coffee and that the bar will be closing. I've only been to a couple of wedding that do this, but it seems to work.
    I don't really have to worry about that kind of there where I'm getting married. I live on a reservation and although drinking has (in the last few years) been legally allowed, we cannont sell alcohol here. And besdes, the only drinks I plan on having at mine is just the toasts :)
    And as a PP said, keep them fed! Full people drink less
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  • edited February 2012
    If you haven't planned to serve a heavy carb meal as a late night snack, I'd encourage you to do that to soak some of it up.  :)

    My FI and I are also disagreeing about the bar.  In my hometown, you are lucky if 1 keg is free.  Where he's from, it's always an open bar.  So, to compromise, we're having an open bar for cocktail hour and dinner.  Once the dance starts, everyone is on their own.  We figure that those that are there to really drink can pay for their own at that point.  For those that just wanted a glass of wine or a few beers for dinner, then they are taken care of.

    I also don't want to pay for shots - so if someone wants a shot, then they have to pay for it.   My mom is so worried about everyone being drunk.  No one can control it but we're serving up pasta and hot dogs around 10 pm to soak some beer up!  :)
  • Open it later, close it earlier.  I'm also hiring security - I have the same issues.
  • Thank you for all the polite responses I got, a lot of then are extremely helpful.

    And to those who are rude about "my gem of a man" you need to cut it out. That is very rude and how do you think you'd feel if someone said something nasty like that about your FI? Not good I bet so please grow up.
  • edited March 2012

    Hate the ticket idea. What would the inebriated folks do if they were cut off by the bartender? Might be more of a problem... I'm with the signature drink or champagne for cocktail hour. Or open bar for the cocktail hour only and beer and wine during dinner. Venues we've looked at don't serve shots at all. Or put wine bottles on the table during dinner (not sure how you do beer for this, though.) 

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