Maine

cash/open bar??

I have been in contact with several venues in Maine and neither of them gave me the alcohol prices! When I asked for it, they both were surprised saying that "the couple rarely provides alcohol, maybe one drink." I know the ettiquette board clearly states that cash bars are a no-no and someone else suggested we have the bar open for an hour, then cash after but that sounds like asking for people to binge drink. I've also heard of having drink tickets. As of now, I'll be having an open bar. 

I'm curious as to what you all think and what you're planning for your weddings?? :)

Re: cash/open bar??

  • i am doing just beer and wine and providing it for my guests- i think hard alcohol is too dangerous especially since people will probably want to drive home.  this is going to work for me because i am having it in a barn as well so i have to provide a licensed bartender.  
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  • I don't know what those venues are talking about, but I have never been to a wedding where the couple only provided one drink, though I have been to dry weddings. I think it's pretty well established that asking for guests to pay for anything at your wedding is frowned upon. If you're looking to cut back, do beer and wine only. Sorry if this sounds rude, but I feel like drink tickets should be for concerts and college mixers, not a wedding.

    To help mitigate our liquor costs, we are switching to beer and wine only during dinner, we've instructed the bar not to serve shots, and we're considering closing the bar down about 45 mins before the reception is set to end so people have some time to dry out before heading home (previous experience with our friends has shown that if you leave the bar open until the very end, they'll start busting out a rounds of Jaegermeister shots, and that just never ends well.)
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/local-wedding-boards_maine_cashopen-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Local%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:98Discussion:88bac97e-a110-49a3-9c2d-dc497bb6687dPost:9c713ce8-8b0e-4368-9ee0-32699d0f7797">Re: cash/open bar??</a>:
    [QUOTE]I don't know what those venues are talking about, but I have never been to a wedding where the couple only provided one drink, though I have been to dry weddings. <strong>I think it's pretty well established that asking for guests to pay for anything at your wedding is frowned upon. </strong>If you're looking to cut back, do beer and wine only. Sorry if this sounds rude, but I feel like drink tickets should be for concerts and college mixers, not a wedding. To help mitigate our liquor costs, we are switching to beer and wine only during dinner, we've instructed the bar not to serve shots, and we're considering closing the bar down about 45 mins before the reception is set to end so people have some time to dry out before heading home (previous experience with our friends has shown that if you leave the bar open until the very end, they'll start busting out a rounds of Jaegermeister shots, and that just never ends well.)
    Posted by lclemence[/QUOTE]

    I disagree with the bolded part, as this is very much a regional point of view.  Here in the northeast, cash bars are way more common than in other places.  I have been to 20+ weddings in my adult life and have never been to a wedding with an open bar.  I've never considered the bride/groom rude for making me pay for my alcohol.  As a child, I remember going up to the bar with a dollar in my hand to get a soda. 

    Most weddings I've been to have had an open bar for the cocktail hour and then changed to a cash bar after that.   

    At my wedding, we sent up a set amount of money with the venue ($500), and when that money was consumed in drinks (beer, wine, our signature margarita, soda), it changed over to a cash bar.  If people wanted hard stuff other than the margarita, then they had to pay.  That morning I started panicking that the $500 wouldn't last through the cocktail hour, but it ended up lasting until half way through the reception, and I have some drinkers in my family!  After the fact, so many people were telling me they had never been to a wedding where drinks were free for so long. 

    I didn't even know how late the money lasted until a month or so after when I was talking with a few friends. 

    Do what you can, but don't be pressured into having an open bar that pushes you beyond your budget limits because some regions and the etiquette board hold this etiquette rule in high regard. 
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  • Thanks for your imput! I was just floored that they didn't even give the info because "everybody" does cash bars. Not rude at all, I feel the same way :) 

  • Thanks for the advice! I thought it was a little crazy that they didn't even include the alchohol prices in the packet for the venue. I know we want to host something, but I'm conflicted! I have family who only drinks a specific hard alcohol drink, so only beer and wine would be tough because why should that be free and those drinks not? This is why I like some sort of ticket/token. I'm thinking 3-4 per person, so for example, grandma isn't going to drink 4 drinks, so cousin who will dink 4+ can use her tickets? Or is this a bad idea that just sounds good in my head? haha! Thanks!

  • hcorr34hcorr34 member
    2500 Comments Fourth Anniversary Name Dropper 5 Love Its
    edited February 2012
    Most open cocktail hours I've been to have only had beer/wine/soda available so I personally don't think there's anything wrong with just hosting those things and either making people pay for other stuff or just not having it available.  People don't have to drink.  What they drink is a choice they are making - at my wedding, if they wanted to drink something not offered, then they were making the choice to pay for their drink. 

    I think the drink tickets might make getting drinks more of a game for some people.  I've been to events with them (not weddings) and have had complete strangers coming up and offering me all kinds of things for my unused tickets.  What about the one person who ends up with 10 extra tickets and tries to use them all? 

    My side of the family is quite the party crowd (in their 30s to 50+ haha) and I don't think their drinking was out of control at all.  I almost feel like bringing attention to how many drinks a person can have makes the situation worse than if they're just drinking because they want a drink.

    Have you considered having one or two signature drinks that might satisfy the few that prefer something else?
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  • Most of the weddings in the Northeast that I was going to about 10 years ago were all cash bar. Recently (last 5 years), all the weddings I've been to have been open bar, but as our friends are all military, the weddings are everywhere so it is less about a regional thing.

    We did open beer and wine for the duration of the wedding with the availability to purchase hard liquor if desired. For us, I really felt that it was the best option. I have a family of drinkers and I didn't want anyone to get too out of control, but as every guest was at a hotel that was about 20 yards away from the reception, I wasn't too worried about people drinking as much as they wanted.

    They had all the beer and wine that we wanted available. I did see some people buying other drinks because they either didn't like beer or wine or just felt like something else, and no one complained. Also, some people were still buying shots (some for H and I even). It worked out well I think for us.
  • I contacted the venue that is my first choice now and they don't even have a price for an open bar and aren't willing to offer that! The woman had been working there for years and said I was the first to ask about open bar prices. As of now, we're budgeted for $1,500 drinks. I could certainly do the tab, but it doesn't seem 'fair' to me if I nurse a drink and someone gulps 3 down that the tab money might be gone.. hence why tickets?? Too many options!! I'm way ahead of myself, but I'm looking into budgeting. 

  • I have not once been to an Open bar wedding. IF you can afford it, great... but it is absolutley not necessary! we are not even providing open bar during cocktail hour, we cannot afford it. Our family and friends would much rather have to pay for an alcoholic beveridge if they want one themselves, than see us go into debt to pay for them to drink, Alcohol is an optional thing, and not necessary.

    thats my opinion, take it or leave it! :-) I think whatever you choose to do is totally okay, its your day and you're budget.
  • hcorr34hcorr34 member
    2500 Comments Fourth Anniversary Name Dropper 5 Love Its
    edited February 2012
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/local-wedding-boards_maine_cashopen-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Local%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:98Discussion:88bac97e-a110-49a3-9c2d-dc497bb6687dPost:78767b6f-003c-4b09-83d8-3582ed6de571">Re: cash/open bar??</a>:
    [QUOTE]I contacted the venue that is my first choice now and they don't even have a price for an open bar and aren't willing to offer that! The woman had been working there for years and said I was the first to ask about open bar prices. As of now, we're budgeted for $1,500 drinks. I could certainly do the tab, <strong>but it doesn't seem 'fair' to me if I nurse a drink and someone gulps 3 down that the tab money might be gone.. </strong>hence why tickets?? Too many options!! I'm way ahead of myself, but I'm looking into budgeting. 
    Posted by misssunshine17[/QUOTE]

    I guess I don't understand how this is different from the scenario that Granny only has a glass of wine and Cousin Party Boy takes her tickets so he has 7 drinks. 

    If they offer consumption (I think that's what it's called) where you pay for what is consumed, I would think that the drinks would all balance out in the end between the people who don't really drink a lot and those who like to indulge.  If I was given 4 drink tickets at a wedding, I would think those drinks had already been paid for and would try to make sure I used them all so I didn't waste the couple's money.    If you're not actually paying ahead of time, and you're just doing tickets to control how many drinks are purchased, then you might end up having people drink more because they feel like they need to.

    How far away is your wedding?  If you haven't even booked your venue yet, I'd not overthink the situation and worry about the full details of the bar setup once your place is actually booked. 
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  • this is so interesting. I am probably the exception to the rule on this post but I am doing an open bar. The majority of my guests are flying in from the south and west coast so to me, if they are spending an upwards of 500+ on plane tickets to be part of my day, I will be buying their drinks that night. 

    It is really expensive though for the the entire night. But i grew up in a different part of the country where its more common to have open bar vs. cash bar.  I know my husbands family and friends were not expecting it.  They are all from NH. So def a regional thing!!!

    I wouldnt worry too much, im sure everyone will have cash on them for drinks!

    im down to 2 months. and im getting sooooo nervous!  :)
  • I am absolutely getting ahead of myself- we have a possible date in Oct. 2013. I'm really thinking forward for budgeting purposes :) my type a personality is going wild haha



  • If providing an open bar is important to you (it was to us), that is something to consider when you look at venues.  Look for a venue that lets you bring in your own alcohol and hire a licensed bartender (or your caterer might provide this service).  Look for a venue that has a per person open bar charge rather than consumption, if consumption would make you too nervous. 


  • If that's what you want to do, and can afford it, I say go for it!  People in the northeast, probably more so in Maine, will probably be shocked to know they don't have to pay for their own drinks. I think it's a nice gesture.  When my cousin in NY got married, she had lobster and filet mignon plated dinners, plus a barbecue lunch following the ceremony, two bands, and open bar.  She and her husband then ended up living with her parents for several years to pay it off! As guests, it was a wedding to remember, but I would never expect it, especially if they couldn't afford to do it.  Good luck.
  • I don't think it is rude if you don't have a cash bar. It is your day and you do what you want and can afford. I have always gone to weddings expecting to pay for my drinks. I never expected it to be on the bride and groom. We recently went to one that ended up being open bar. It was a nice but I was also not rude and didn't suck down my drinks because I wasn't paying for them. Anyways we plan on getting a few kegs. Some friends of ours did that at their wedding. It was nice if your a beer drinker. Or we may just have a bottel of wine on each table. But we also had the idea from our venue to have it open the first hour or put a certin amout down. It is a nice gesture to do a little something for your guest. But I dont think you need to have a open bar the whole time. Because the people who drink hard liquor and wine that adds up.

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