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Massachusetts-Boston

Bar?

Hello all-
I've been lurking around the etiquette board, and they are all pretty clear that they feel having a Cash Bar is rude, and having a dry bar is better than no bar. The exception is if a cash bar is a norm in your area. I've been to a few weddings around Boston, and almost every one was different whether they had an open bar, open cocktail then cash, and full cash bar. Right now, my fiance and I booked our wedding venue that allows us to have an open bar for the cocktail hour, and then it switches to cash to keep in our current budget. I obviously don't want to be rude to my guests, but I'm sure many of you understand that weddings in this area are not cheap. Can I stick with this bar option and not offend my guests or should I switch to a full open bar? My mother who is a wedding coordinator at a local country club thinks this is asking for a drunken mess at our wedding and advises keeping it open for cocktail hour, then switching to cash. I'm so confused! Haha

Thanks for the help!

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Re: Bar?

  • shannie11shannie11 member
    Fifth Anniversary 100 Comments Name Dropper 5 Love Its
    edited June 2012
    Your mother is right.  Depending on the crowd, people tend to drink more when it is on someone elses dime.  I would suggest just keeping it open bar for the cocktail hour and then just having wine with dinner.  If you do find it in your budget then maybe just leave it open with beer and wine.  I personally would not find it rude if after cocktail hour it went to a cash bar.  This is more typical of the weddings I have attended.
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  • Another alternative is to have open beer and wine only or open signature cocktails. That way you're treating your guests well and you're watching your wallet. Open bar doesn't always have to be a complete full bar. (FWIW, I had a full open bar and no one got sloppy.) 

    I can definitely see both sides of this issue, so do what works best for you and your FI. If anyone complains, they can give you the extra money for it! :)
  • In Response to Re: Bar?:
    Another alternative is to have open beer and wine only or open signature cocktails. That way you're treating your guests well and you're watching your wallet. Open bar doesn't always have to be a complete full bar. (FWIW, I had a full open bar and no one got sloppy.)  I can definitely see both sides of this issue, so do what works best for you and your FI. If anyone complains, they can give you the extra money for it! :)
    Posted by JBs_Bride
    This is what I am doing.  Beer and wine only, and we will be offering two signature cocktails during the cocktail hour.

    FWIW, I don't think people will be more likely to get sloppy if you're hosting an open bar--plenty of people get sloppy at Red Sox games where beers are like $10 :)
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  • I think that people will get sloppy whether they're paying or you're paying. If you're overly concerned about what your guests will think then work with your venue to just have the beer and wine open bar. But if you choose to do a cash bar, don't feel bad about it. I've only been to one wedding that was completely open bar. All of the others have been cash bars... I think that's the norm in this area.
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  • I agree with all of the PPs! I've just had this discussion on my month board, too, and open beer and wine seems to be the way most of the girls are going.
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  • MrsMack10612MrsMack10612 The Witch City member
    Ninth Anniversary 500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Answer
    Etiquette is that your guests shouldn't have to open their wallets at all for your wedding; however, I'm never offended by them.

    I've been to weddings with cash bars - but never in the Boston area.

    I would recommend rather than any partial cash bar option that you go with fully hosted beer, wine and 1 or 2 signature cocktails.

     

  • I wouldn't say dry bar is better than cash bar, but I do tend to think cash bars are rude. If you can stretch your budget a bit or make it up somewhere else, I would recommend beer and wine. The people that tend to get sloppy at weddings will do so with a cash bar or open bar, IMO.
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  • I completely disagree with E - having a dry bar is way worse than having a cash bar. But I think having a cash bar is really tacky.

    Probably 75% of weddings I've been to have been open bar.  As a guest I get PO'd when I shell out a ton of money for travel, showers, and a generous wedding gift and then have to pay for my drinks.  I think most people who say they can't afford an open bar can, they just have other priorities.  Cut back your guest list, scale down centerpieces, buy a cheaper dress, etc., but don't make people pay for their own drinks. 

    Doing just beer and wine is fine. People will drink either way. Your mom is wrong.

  • As a guest, if given the choice of dry wedding or cash bar, I'd go with cash bar.  As PPs suggested, definitely look into a limited bar (beer and wine only).  We had an open bar at our wedding because the thought of people having to pull out their wallets at what was supposed to be a thank you to our guests was uncomfortable for me.  I didn't get the impression that people over-indulged at the bar either.  Did they enjoy themselves? Yes, but no one had to be carried out.
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  • I've been to at least a dozen weddings in the Boston area and have never had anything but an open bar, so I would consider full open bar the norm in this area. I would notice but not mind at all if it was only open beer and wine, but if I had to pay for my drinks, I'd be annoyed. 

    The problem I see with the open cocktail hour, then limited or cash bar after, is that it is confusing. I'd be really embarrassed if I went to order a drink at dinner and they charged me and I didn't have the money on me. I mean, I never bring my purse to the bar at a wedding, I leave it at my table. Also, I'm pretty certain that the drunken messes I see at open bars would still be a mess at a cash bar. 

    I think the open beer and wine with a signature drink or two is the best of both worlds, if that would save you money. To me, having an open bar was more important than a lot of the other expenses.

  •  Stick with that option -- you will be fine!  It really does depend on your social circle and since yours seems to be all over the map on this issue, the cocktail hour scenario sounds perfect. 

    All of the weddings I have been to have been in suburbs of Boston and none were complete open bar.  They were open bar for cocktail hour only and cash bar for the rest of the night.  At a couple wine service with dinner was added in.   Only two had open bar with beer and wine. 

    Since partial cash bar is normal for people I know, I go to a wedding expecting I will have to buy a couple drinks for myself and I do not get offended or annoyed in the slightest.   

    I would definitely say a cash bar for the whole entire night is a no-no, but as long as you are paying for a portion of the alcohol, you are fine. 
  • I have never been to a wedding that had an open bar. We're going open bar for cocktail hour and then cash bar.
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  • We are also doing an open bar for cocktail hour, then a cash bar.  All the weddings I've been to in the area have been like that, except one on the Cape that was entirely open bar.
  • We did open bar for 4 hours.  The last hour (more like 30 min since the bar closes a little early) was cash.  Do you have an option to do open bar for a few hours?  I've been to mostly open bar weddings, a few that only did cocktail hour and maybe one that was all cash.  I say do what you can.  I'd much rather pay for my own booze than go to a dry wedding.  
  • I have to agree with PP in saying it is annoying when you go to a wedding and are expected to pay for drinks. There is another option that most venue's don't tell you about but it is there. We did an open bar by consumption. For example; my father gave them a certain dollar amount ($2,500.00) and when they got close to that amount they will ask if you want to put some more money down or close the bar. I will say that we had some big drinkers at our wedding and didn't get close to the $2,500.00 my dad initially gave them. We also had complimentary open bar for cocktail hour and continuous wine service at dinner. We closed the bar at 11pm and had Cappuccino and Espresso stations as well as Italian cookies for the last hour. They gave my father back whatever was not spent on the bar. This may be a good option for you, I know it was for us because most open bars charge $20- $25 per person and that includes non alcoholic beverages. At least by consumption if you have people who don't drink it only comes out to $1.50 -$2.00 for what a soda costs. Does that make sense? 
    HTH! Laughing 

  • Lyssa, how many guests did you have at your wedding? Our venue offers an option of open bar by consumption, and I'm trying to figure out if it's going to save us more money then just paying for full open bar. We also have some big drinkers in the famiy, and our guest list is about 150.
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  • I don't think having an open bar means people are going to drink more. I have been to both types of weddings (my friends are big drinkers) and I have to admit that when it was open bar for an hour everyone was double fisted the entire time and drinking hard alcohol. When friends of mine had open bar the whole night people were more relaxed, had beer, and only one at a time. I guess it depends on your crowd of people?
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  • Ana we had 180 people at the wedding and top shelf liqueur. I think what made it not so expensive was that there was open bar at cocktail hour and at dinner everyone was drinking wine because they kept coming around and pouring lol. That was part of my package. (the complimentary open bar at cocktail and then continuous wine service at dinner) after that people still drank but maybe not as much as they would have if there wasn't wine. Definitely compare the cost to how much they charge per drink (consumption) against per person (open bar)
    HTH!
  • In Response to Re: Bar?:
    Ana we had 180 people at the wedding and top shelf liqueur. I think what made it not so expensive was that there was open bar at cocktail hour and at dinner everyone was drinking wine because they kept coming around and pouring lol. That was part of my package. (the complimentary open bar at cocktail and then continuous wine service at dinner) after that people still drank but maybe not as much as they would have if there wasn't wine. Definitely compare the cost to how much they charge per drink (consumption) against per person (open bar) HTH!
    Posted by LyssaBella
    Thanks for the advice! I'll make sure to check on that when I meet with my venue again.
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  • To the poster who said that it's unfair to make guests pay for their drinks, you're not - if they don't want to pay, they don't have to drink.  I see having an open bar as a choice, just like serving filet mignon over hamburgers.  I'd say do what you need to to do to make your budget work - it sounds like you're circle is not unaccustomed to cash bars, so I wouldn't worry.  While I as a guest would certainly prefer an open bar, a cash bar in no way would ruin the evening for me - especially if I knew finances were tight for the bride.
  • In Response to Re: Bar?:
    To the poster who said that it's unfair to make guests pay for their drinks, you're not - if they don't want to pay, they don't have to drink.  I see having an open bar as a choice, just like serving filet mignon over hamburgers.  I'd say do what you need to to do to make your budget work - it sounds like you're circle is not unaccustomed to cash bars, so I wouldn't worry.  While I as a guest would certainly prefer an open bar, a cash bar in no way would ruin the evening for me - especially if I knew finances were tight for the bride.
    Posted by shimtown
    Um no.  You should treat your wedding guests as if they were dinner guests at your house.  You dont ask people to pay for what you serve at your house, so you dont ask them to pay for things at your reception.  Your reception is a thank you to your guests for attending your ceremony.

    OP: You dont need to host a full bar, but whatever you offer should be hosted.  So if you need to cut out favors or scale back on flowers or something, you should do whatever you can to host something.  Beer and wine is perfectly acceptable.

    Dont worry about people acting up.  Ive been to many wedding with full open bar and no incidents.  We did an open bar for over 200 people and noone got messy.
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  • edited July 2012
    We did a full open (top shelf) and no one got messy either.  My venue (Harrington farm) you could pay per consumption or add an amount to everyone's plate cost. The cost between the cocktails only hour and a 5 hour open was seriously $10 a person I think. We had about 100 guests of drinking age and the rest were under 21 so their fee was a lot cheaper... We only paid a few thousand to have full open bar (maybe $3k)... I have seen a consumption go out of control, we were at a country club in Newton and the bar bill was $21k according to the bride's dad. I have only seriously been to two open bars (my own and this Newton wedding). Our guests were pretty happy though they didn't have to open their wallets! Try the wine at the tables and beer and wine only with sig drinks. We also had two wines bottles per table at dinner (a white and red). Again, I feel consumption is pretty stupid unless you have a cap but if you can pay a straight fee per guest no matter how much they drink that is so much better than you don't have to worry about paying crazy amounts later, you know what you signed up for!
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  • I've been to plenty of weddings where it was cash bar all night. Never an issue for me & I have yet to hear anyone complain. I guess it just depends on the type of people you are friends/family with....
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  • I am having a cash bar. I do not and will never understand what the big deal is about that. I do not drink, my Fi does not drink. We are offering soda, water, etc at our expense. Some of our guests do drink we are offering the cash bar (we still have to pay the bar tender) so that they have that option. I cant afford to have an open bar anyway and Im not cutting away from things I want to do it. 
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