Wedding Etiquette Forum
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open bar

We have a four hour open bar, but a 5 hour reception. Is it normal to have this one hour "off?" If so, when do you recommend the bar be closed? During toasts, dance, etc?
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Re: open bar

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    I hate when people close the bar during dinner or toasts/speeches.  HATE it.  I'd way rather a cash bar than not being able to get a drink for an hour.  I would close the bar at the end. 

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    Either close it during dinner or one hour before the reception ends. Either way, announce it so people have a chance to get drinks before it closes.
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    No it is not normal it is rude.  Close it at the end.
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    Yeah it seems to be the norm.  We closed our bar for one hour during dinner.
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    I think it depends on the area.  I think it is more than appropriate to close the bar one hour before it ends to prevent drunk driving.  It's not like you're going to lose your killer buzz the moment you stop drinking.  4 hours is plenty for a 5 hr reception.Or you could close it during dinner.  I also think it's fine.  Maybe you could have wine served though during dinner?  I'm personally closing mine during dinner.  I've never met anyone complain about it.  Everyone should understand that there are time/financial restraints.  Some people choose crappy food, some people close the bar for an hour.  I would be more pissed at the crappy food. 
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    The majority of the weddings I've been to have it closed while speeches or right at the beginning of dinner.If they did this, there was a sign letting the guests know and usually I just stock pile my drinks, i.e. I'll have several ordered right before they close.
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    Thanks for all the tips. I like the idea of doing it during toasts, ancing and dinner starting, I will make a sign so people stock up:)
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    We're closing an hour before the end of the wedding to help sober people up before they drive.
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    Are you paying based on the number of drinks and are cutting the time by an hour to save money? Or is the 4 hour open bar included in some kind of package from your reception venue/ a per person payment? If you are paying by the drink then I don't see the point in closing it for an hour, especially because, like buttaflai said, people will just grab a few. That wouldn't save anyone any money. But if it is a per person/ pay for time package and you are choosing to close it for an hour, I agree that you should give some kind of notice to guests just so they are aware.
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    No it is not normal it is rude. Close it at the end.I disagree with this. I have been to many weddings where it was closed during dinner!I don't see any reason to keep it open all the way until the very end, though. People will stop drinking near the end. Is it possible to close it for 30 mins during dinner and then 30 mins before the end?
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    During dinner if you have wine services at the tables as people won't get up to get a drink... Otherwise, if you don't have wine service,  can you extend it for another hour?
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    I think it's perfectly acceptable to close it an hour before the end. Just be prepared for people to see that as a signal to finish up their drinks and say their goodbyes.
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    I think closing the bar during dinner is a little odd, but I think as long as there is wine on the table and you let people KNOW it will be closed during dinner it is a non-issue.  If there will be nothing on the tables available, I wouldn't recommend it.  People will be irrate if they didn't know about it, then have to sit through the whole dinner hour without a drink while others around them have one.  Another good option is closing it for the hour before the reception ends.  You can make an announcement that the bar will be closing, people can get one last drink.  But after that people will naturally start winding down and preparing to leave.  It's a good marker for your guests that the evening is ending, so you won't have any awkward herding out the door at the end. 

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    What is the reason for closing the bar? How much does the 4-hour bar cost, and how much does the 5-hour bar cost?
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    Almost every wedding I've attended closed the bar during dinner.  Actually at our wedding we didn't have a choice.  The venue required the bar to be closed for an hour during dinner.At this point I know that about 10 minutes or so before the end of the cocktail hour I need to stockpile drinks or plan on drinking the wine that's usually available with dinner.
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    I've been to wedding where they have closed during this times. While it was annoying it was not a big deal. It is fine to close it 30 minutes before the end but the excuse it helps sober people up just plain dumb. As we know 30 minutes is not going to be there difference between drunk and sober people.






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    We had an open bar from 4PM - when the cocktail hour started - until midnight - when the reception had to end... Wine was served with dinner, but guests could still order from the bar. We paid per drink, though.
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    Our hotel requested we close it during dinner because people get up and walk around while the waiters are trying to serve dinner.
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    I'd rather not say exactly how much more the 5 hour open bar is, as every one's budget is different and I do not feel that is important. Its simply out of my budget to do. The hotel package we got is for a 4 hour open bar. During the "closed" hour we can chose to do a cash bar. I may opt to do that, still posting a sign so people know it will reopen after dinner. I also like the idea of a half hour during toasts/dinner and a half hour near the end. I'd feel bad if the BM and MOH were making toasts and people were srambling to the bar instead of listening. It made a little sense to me to have it closed during those first dances and toasts as I thought people watched and lsitened to those...obviously no they don't HAVE to watch and listen but the wedding I've been in I haven't seen people at the bar at those particular times.I really appreciate all your insight, thank you!
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    Don't close it during the reception at all.  Just have it close and hour before the reception is suppose to get over...
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    Sorry if my pricing question made you uncomfortable... I just wanted to see a ratio. I assume that the 5-hour price can't possibly be more than 25% over the 4-hour price. Considering that you're already spending $X, 25% more shouldn't really be a budget breaker, especially if you make concessions in other areas to make it possible. You may be able to find room in your budget to have it open the whole time, or purchase at least another half hour and have last call thirty minutes before the party's over.
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    Also, unless your guests lack social skills or are five-years-old, they should have the decency and respect to listen to the speeches instead of scrambling like mad to the bar ;)
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    I would close it during dinner. I've been to weddings where this happened, and it was fine. Most people will grab a drink before they sit down, and as long as your servers are serving water, iced tea, etc then people will not be without a drink. Personally, I am very unlikely to consume more than 1 drink while i'm eating anyway (although I realize not everyone is like me, haha) We never closed our bar so I can't say anything from experience. I do not remember people running up to the bar during dinner or toasts, but I guess i wasn't paying attention to that anyway.
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    I'd say 75% of the weddings I've attended (in St. Louis) close the bar for an hour doing toasts/dinner so it's not considered rude or tacky in this are.  It's typical and basically expected.  Most wedding guests see it as a positive that the dancing gets extended by an extra hour when otherwise a couple couldn't afford to do so.  Put a sign up by the bar with the closing time, have the DJ make an announcement about the closing, and people will know to 'stockpile' drinks during dinner if they want them.  However, if possible, it goes a long way to add wine table service during the time period the bar is closed
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    I am going to close the bar during dinner.  I am also from St. Louis and almost every wedding I have been to does this.  We are serving wine with dinner as well as the champagne for toasts.  I figure people will probably bring a cocktail to their table, with that and the wine/champagne I think people will be fine.  Dinner is only about 45 minutes, that should be plenty of alcohol to get them through it until the bar is open again.
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    Thanks guys!
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