Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

open bar vs cash bar

13

Re: open bar vs cash bar

  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_open-bar-vs-cash-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:36Discussion:4f8c38ce-de75-4d5b-94bf-c66dfa8506d5Post:d4851a09-d845-4204-859a-ca1e661c8468">Re: open bar vs cash bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]My daughter wedding is May 4th 2013 at a very nice Country Club in RI.  We have gone back and forth with this issue and we are having appx 250 people.  Yes it is a "Party we are throwing" but you do not need people crazy drunk either.  We are having a Signature Drink at Cocktail hour and having passed wine at dinner and Champagne toast.  And this Country Club host many wedding and the trend we are total is less open bars.  Who wants the responsibility?  How many parties have you gone to and they are Pot Luck or bring your own alcohol,  We are also letting the wedding party have open bar all evening.  You go to a fundraiser and spend $150.00 on tickets and still have to pay for drinks. Yes I know it is a fundraiser but still.  And with the money we are spending we are well over the average price for a wedding in RI and we are not even going that crazy.  So I could only imagine an open bar.
    Posted by ktuze22[/QUOTE]

    Open bar for the wedding party only? OMG some people are more equal than other people, huh. This is an incredibly rude idea. Do other guests have to pay at the bar? Are you hiding the bar?
  • People will drink what is provided to them. If you want alcohol at your wedding to make your guests more relaxed and to have a good time, then serve it. It doesn't have to be a full bar. How about a martini bar, wine and beer? We had beer, sodas, and added a martini bar only during the cocktail hour that served 3 types of martinis, dirty, cosmopolitan, and an apple. This meant that all the drinks only required the venue to have one type of liquor (vodka). For our served dinner we had the options of wine, water, and tea (we live in the south and got married at a country club) and of course champagne for the toast. After dinner while everyone was dancing, we had punch, beer, wine, and water available. Anyone who is going to drink at a wedding is not going to discriminate about the alcohol if it's free. People still had a good time, partied hearty, and made great lasting memories.
     
    PS - Don't skimp on the music... the DJ or live band leader can make or break a wedding reception. They help keep the flow of events happening and use music to set the mood. First dance and father/ daughter dance before the meal so that no one is waiting to get on the dance floor after they eat. Cut the cake, do the toasts and garter toss, right when the last few tables are served their food. People want to dance right after they eat, otherwise they just go home if things lag on too long. If you interrupt a good party/music to cut the cake, then people take that as a sign to go home. It stops the momentum.

  • Coming from someone who is newly engaged, but has spent the better part of the last decade working in food & beverage (specifically wedding venues) I can tell you that in this day & age, people will just be happy if something is hosted.  Whether it's for an hour or all night, open bar or just beer & wine, don't worry about what etiquette says.  And don't worry what people are saying about guests griping about paying for a drink.  At the end of the day, it's about you and the beginning of the rest of your life, not about what your guests don't want to pay for.
  • I found out that in a lot of venues, you will need a liquor license if you want to have a cash bar. So, you may want to make sure of that before you make this decision. If you want an open bar, you may want to narrow it down to just a few choices so that it isn't too expensive.
  • It is my personal belief that guests should be given decent food (doesn't have to be fancy!), something to drink (limited selection is fine), and freedom from physical discomfort (eg. freezing temperatures, painfully loud speaker system, etc.). Friends and family are spending time and money to be at your wedding, especially those that have to travel far. You could also have a smaller wedding if you are strapped for cash. Or you could elope and have a bigger celebration later on when you are in a better financial situation.

    I used to be a bartender, and I have worked at several cash bar weddings. It was extremely uncomfortable. People walk up to the bar, ask for a drink, and then have a disgusted look on their face and walk away when they are asked to pay. The party always ends early because everyone is frustrated and bored.

    The only wedding I have ever seen where a cash bar wasn't too bad was when there were no heavy drinkers, and the bride and groom had set up bottles of wine on each table. No one ended up having to pay for drinks.
    imimblesdaveANDkristenRebeccaB88
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_open-bar-vs-cash-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:4f8c38ce-de75-4d5b-94bf-c66dfa8506d5Post:1bb87a61-23a9-4678-8c29-722389fe88bd">Re: open bar vs cash bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]I am doing a cash bar for my entire reception. I understand that this technically is a faux-pax, but my fiance and I are both light drinkers. We had so many friends give us a hard time about not having alcohol at all, that we decided to do a cash bar. Our only cost is for the bartenders, which was only a couple hundred bucks. I think it totally depends on the couple/ budget. If people are unhappy, I frankly don't care. We didn't have the money to pay for people to get drunk. If they don't want to be at our wedding because we didn't get them free alcohol, then they probably shouldn't be there in the first place.  The wedding is about getting married....
    Posted by kwieskamp[/QUOTE]

    <div>You said it girl.</div>
  • Make your own wine!! It's incredibly inexpensive and it tastes wayyy better than store bought wine. That's what we are doing for our wedding. We brew wine and beer and now we have discovered liquor kits to make things like amaretto and Malibu. We will also be making our own soda. It gives us a very fun and simple activity to do together and will add a very cool "personal touch" to the wedding while also being very affordable :)
    Wine kits are ready in as little as 5 weeks and they make 6 gallons!!!
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_open-bar-vs-cash-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:4f8c38ce-de75-4d5b-94bf-c66dfa8506d5Post:c6b50c50-4c4f-44fa-8c6b-4a670b30c735">Re: open bar vs cash bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]Is it the alcohol part or just guests having to pay for any beverage that makes it such a faux pas? Like I said we'll do the 1 hour open bar, and then during dinner and rest of reception we'll provide all non-alcoholic beverages free. It's just the alcohol that will be cash. Plus the champagne toast will also be offered free. Is this just as bad? Our guests aren't huge drinkers but we figured at least they would have the option after cocktail hour if they so choose, otherwise they will be well provided with food and other drinks the entire night.
    Posted by acove2006[/QUOTE]
    In all honesty, it sounds like y'all already have your minds made up about the subject. If that is the case, why are you even asking for advice and feedback when you have already received a ton of it? <div>
    </div><div>A cash bar is tacky, even if you have an open bar cocktail hour. REGARDLESS of your budget. We are having beer and wine only at our reception because we can't afford an open bar. </div><div>
    </div><div>If you didn't want advice, or are clearly going to argue and beat a dead horse, then argue elsewhere. This seems like it should be common knowledge to me. </div>
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  • AllieBear725AllieBear725 member
    First Comment 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited April 2013
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_open-bar-vs-cash-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:4f8c38ce-de75-4d5b-94bf-c66dfa8506d5Post:5901962c-d855-4bf9-87fe-3d99ea814633">Re: open bar vs cash bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]Make your own wine!! It's incredibly inexpensive and it tastes wayyy better than store bought wine. That's what we are doing for our wedding. We brew wine and beer and now we have discovered liquor kits to make things like amaretto and Malibu. We will also be making our own soda. It gives us a very fun and simple activity to do together and will add a very cool "personal touch" to the wedding while also being very affordable :) Wine kits are ready in as little as 5 weeks and they make 6 gallons!!!
    Posted by Bride2B12613[/QUOTE]
    I absolutely LOVE this idea! 
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  • Yes etiquette has changed in some aspects and I feel that the choices between an open bar and cash bar are definitely one of the changes. We are a young couple who is footing the entire bill ourselves and are still having a beautiful wedding thanks to my wedding planner, not to mention I know our families and they are by no means drinkers so it would be a waste of our money to add on that expense. I have everything I want and a nice honeymoon as well. Nothing against anyone doing the bar either way. If we had the extra 3k for beer and wine then we would of course but we don't and no one should feel bad about it. We posted it on our wedding website about the cash bar.
  • This probably won't be very popular, but everyone is entitled to their opinion, right? First, if you can afford it and it's important to you, I think you should cover alcohol. However, if you don't drink (like me and my fiancé), don't want to dish out the $4000 that it cost (at the country club where we're getting married), and don't want to deprive guests that do drink of alcohol, then I think a cash bar is the way to go. Second, when most people recall weddings, they don't mention alcohol, center pieces, the groom's suit or shoes. They remember the way the bride looked, the ceremony, and the entertainment! Lol. But if you do have a guest that was pissed they had to come out of pocket for alcohol (and they knew in advance of your wedding), then that person may have much more pressing issues than simply not getting free alcohol at something as special as someone's wedding! (I'm just saying...) Finally, at the end of the day, it's your and your groom's special day. And if you choose to have only finger food and tea and water for refreshments, that's your prerogative, and anyone who has a problem with that can either decline your invitation or kick rocks (unless they would like to come out of pocket to pay for what they want at YOUR wedding)! Lol Good luck and congratulations!
  • I am getting married in 20 days and we have decided to do a 500 max bar tab, when that reaches its limit it will be a cash bar. We are getting married on a boat and will be on the boat a total of 6 hrs. with that being said I don't think it is rude to have a cash bar, for most of our guest are Christian people and do not drink but alcohol will be there for the people that choices to drink
  • I believe if you want alcohol you should pay for it. Only because if there is an open bar the place holding reception is LEGALLY responsible and if there are "Party" people coming then you don't want an open bar to get out of hand.  I'm state certified to serve alcohol say if I were to bar-tend a wedding with an open bar and it got out of hand ; it would also be my butt on the line too.

    I don't mind if some of the reception is open bar or have some free drink options; but not the entire reception.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_open-bar-vs-cash-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:36Discussion:4f8c38ce-de75-4d5b-94bf-c66dfa8506d5Post:1862b639-1067-41c3-9b2a-59b32149abfe">Re: open bar vs cash bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]I am getting married in 20 days and we have decided to do a 500 max bar tab, when that reaches its limit it will be a cash bar. We are getting married on a boat and will be on the boat a total of 6 hrs. with that being said I don't think it is rude to have a cash bar, for most of our guest are Christian people and do not drink but alcohol will be there for the people that choices to drink
    Posted by abrocke1[/QUOTE]

    So judgmental! I am a Christian. I drink. So you're having alcohol for the heathens?
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_open-bar-vs-cash-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:4f8c38ce-de75-4d5b-94bf-c66dfa8506d5Post:5600d986-d70a-436e-9844-c5dfb3bf5e9f">open bar vs cash bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]I am planning on having an open bar for the cocktail hour then it will be a cash bar for the reception. Question is: Should i have an open bar for the entire reception? Any feedback will be appreciated
    Posted by gailhowie[/QUOTE]

    <div>Ok. So first of all, most of these people need to get real with what's affordable in real life. I just got married last weekend, with 150+ guests, a $5000 budget, and guess what....a cash bar. Here are my thoughts on the choice of cash bar:</div><div>1) our budget was $5000 and we footed the bill oursleves. It can be done.</div><div>2) we offered free champagne throughout the reception but told the venue to limit it to 20 bottles and that after that we were just out of it. You know your guests, and you know if they are drinkers. If they are, then yes, if you will have alcohol at all, then at least SOMETHING on the bar should be free. </div><div>3) we put on the response card "CASH BAR AVAILABLE". There is absolutely nothing wrong with having the cash bar, as long as your guests are fully aware. And as long as cash bar doesn't mean ONLY cash. And as long as there is a sign up at the bar advertising how much drinks are.</div><div>4) we limited what was available at the bar to wine and beer and set the prices with the venue ahead of time. If they would have suggested outrageous prices (more than $5 a drink is outrageous for a guest to pay), then we would have cut out the bar completely minus the free champagne. </div><div>5) Consider how formal you want your event to be. If you are having a sit-down dinner reception, then of course, a cash bar makes absolutely no sense. But if you're having a buffet style, or if guests have to get up to get their own food, then having them stand in line at the bar is the same thing. </div><div>6) Anyone who complains about your big day and makes it about whether or not there was free booze, then is that even someone whose opininon you care about on the matter? They may sound crass, but as a bride, your wedding day is the one day that EVERYTHING gets to be about you and what YOU want. It will be the day YOU and YOUR HUSBAND remember for the rest of your lives so focus on the things that are important to the two of you, not to everyone else.</div>
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_open-bar-vs-cash-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:4f8c38ce-de75-4d5b-94bf-c66dfa8506d5Post:59d6e8e2-6df6-40fa-ba86-106407ac411b">Re: open bar vs cash bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: open bar vs cash bar : So judgmental! I am a Christian. I drink. So you're having alcohol for the heathens?
    Posted by NYCMercedes[/QUOTE]

    <div>ummmm......whoa...you took that pretty far didn't you? I am pretty sure they just meant they knew their guests weren't drinkers and the reason they weren't drinkers was because they were christians. They didn't say that you shouldn't drink if you were christian. geez louise. </div>
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_open-bar-vs-cash-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:4f8c38ce-de75-4d5b-94bf-c66dfa8506d5Post:5600d986-d70a-436e-9844-c5dfb3bf5e9f">open bar vs cash bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]I am planning on having an open bar for the cocktail hour then it will be a cash bar for the reception. Question is: Should i have an open bar for the entire reception? Any feedback will be appreciated
    Posted by gailhowie[/QUOTE]

    <div>I have worked at facilities that had catered weddings, some of them nearly every weekend. I honestly never saw a wedding that had a full open bar for the entire evening. Most of them the couples provided beer and wine. If you wanted a cocktail you paid for it. at one they had a price cap for the open bar. People understand the the economy is tough and weddings are exspenive and couples are paying for their own weddings these days.</div>
  • NYCMercedesNYCMercedes member
    First Anniversary First Answer First Comment 5 Love Its
    edited April 2013
    Frontstreet, I knew what she meant, duh. But I did take it too far and thank you for correcting me. Seriously. No sarcasm. I'm sorry.
  • Well put, Joy.  We struggled with this ourselves but feel that our guests should not have to worry about spending MORE money when attending our wedding.  They've already sacrificed time, given gifts, many have traveled great distances, reserved hotel rooms, etc., all to help celebrate our happy day.  The least we can do is buy them a drink or two!
    RebeccaB88
  • I'd rather have a cash bar than no bar.  I'd rather have a cash bar for cocktails than have to drink an open bar with low quality wine & beer.

    A cash bar prevents people from getting sloppy drunk.  I'm doing an open bar though.
  • do what you can afford! As place settings we gave out tickets with their names on it for one free drink, take is personally if youd like, but, im sorry i cannot afford a $1000 alcohol bill!!!!! forget that! It was cash bar after you used your ticket. And not everyone used the tickets, so are bill was even cheaper. I dont think it is really etiquette, i think it depends on your family and friends.

  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_open-bar-vs-cash-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:36Discussion:4f8c38ce-de75-4d5b-94bf-c66dfa8506d5Post:f8086d41-ddf7-4c20-b188-cd7c36b48105">Re: open bar vs cash bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: open bar vs cash bar : In all honesty, it sounds like y'all already have your minds made up about the subject. If that is the case, why are you even asking for advice and feedback when you have already received a ton of it?  A cash bar is tacky, even if you have an open bar cocktail hour. REGARDLESS of your budget. We are having beer and wine only at our reception because we can't afford an open bar.  If you didn't want advice, or are clearly going to argue and beat a dead horse, then argue elsewhere. This seems like it should be common knowledge to me. 
    Posted by AllieBear725[/QUOTE]

    In all honesty, your tacky. Let people do what they want and can afford. Don't call them tacky because you dont know their financial situation.
  • We are doing open bar...beer, vodka and rum, plus champagne for the toast. That's it. We will have nothing new tapped after 10pm.

    Now let me say that my fiance's friends can drink some beer like nobody's business and there is no way we could afford to keep them all happily supplied in beer all night. He says it's rude to not supply all the booze, and I agree, although I also think it is incredibly rude to go to an event and expect the hosts to foot your ability to get stupid falling down sloppy drunk...and I have no doubt that some of our guests will drink to excess because they aren't paying for it


    ~*~June 21, 2014~*~


  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_open-bar-vs-cash-bar?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:4f8c38ce-de75-4d5b-94bf-c66dfa8506d5Post:a8b46336-8c33-40f9-8061-56814e18b670">Re: open bar vs cash bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: open bar vs cash bar : In all honesty,<strong> <u>your</u></strong> tacky. Let people do what they want and can afford. Don't call them tacky because you dont know their financial situation.
    Posted by dani1361[/QUOTE]
    First of all, let me pull out my grammar police abilities and say that I believe you meant to say "you're," meaning "you are." <div>
    </div><div>Now, that being said, the OP had started this thread asking for advice, "Any input would be appreciated." Therefore, I am allowed to express my opinion just as everyone else. You believe I am tacky, okay. I'm sorry you feel that way. </div><div>
    </div><div>It is in my personal belief that a cash bar is TACKY, if that makes me tacky, so be it. I feel if you can't afford to treat your guests properly, you should treat them tastefully with what you CAN afford. </div><div>
    </div><div>
    </div>
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    daveANDkristenRebeccaB88
  • Vaka0401Vaka0401 member
    First Anniversary First Comment
    edited May 2013
    Seriously? All you cash bar bashers! They are fine. I've been to a ton of extremely nice weddings that cost in the 20,000-40,000 range and have never been to one that has been completely hosted. The cost is prohibitive. It is more than acceptable to host beer for the night and have your guests pay for mixed drinks, or host beer,wine,and soda. I would never expect for a bride and groom to pay for all alcohol at their wedding. Plus everyone has people in there family that it would be a horrible idea to have present with an free bar all night. Be realistic! Host what you can afford!
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    edited May 2013
    In Response to Re: open bar vs cash bar:
    [QUOTE]Seriously? All you cash bar bashers! They are fine. I've been to a ton of extremely nice weddings that cost in the 20,000-40,000 range and have never been to one that has been completely hosted. The cost is prohibitive. It is more than acceptable to host beer for the night and have your guests pay for mixed drinks, or host beer,wine,and soda. I would never expect for a bride and groom to pay for all alcohol at their wedding. Plus everyone has people in there family that it would be a horrible idea to have present with an free bar all night. Be realistic! Host what you can afford!
    Posted by Vaka0401[/QUOTE]

    Yes, host what you can afford, but don't make your guests pay out of pocket for anything!  If you can only host beer, wine, and soda, that's fine but don't have the other alcohol available.  I had a completely hosted bar at our wedding and ours was well under 20k.  We made sure to invite the amount of people we could host properly, which includes no cash bar of any kind!
    daveANDkristen
  • Jen4948Jen4948 member
    First Anniversary First Answer First Comment 5 Love Its
    News flash, everyone:

    It doesn't matter if you'd prefer alcohol for sale to no alcohol at all.  It is TOTALLY OPTIONAL to have any and NOT WRONG AT ALL not to have any. 

    But if you do, you don't make guests pay for it.  It doesn't matter if they "expect" there to be alcohol; it doesn't matter what else is or isn't being served; you never charge your guests for anything at your wedding or any other event that you are supposed to be "hosting."  "Hosting" means you as the host pay for all costs of the wedding.  If you can't afford a full open bar, you offer whatever you can afford-even if it's just beer and wine or no alcohol at all.  You don't pass on the costs to your guests with a cash bar.  That is not "hosting."
  • aspurlock said:
    In Response to Re: open bar vs cash bar:
    I am doing a cash bar for my entire reception. I understand that this technically is a faux-pax, but my fiance and I are both light drinkers. We had so many friends give us a hard time about not having alcohol at all, that we decided to do a cash bar. Our only cost is for the bartenders, which was only a couple hundred bucks. I think it totally depends on the couple/ budget. If people are unhappy, I frankly don't care. We didn't have the money to pay for people to get drunk. If they don't want to be at our wedding because we didn't get them free alcohol, then they probably shouldn't be there in the first place.  The wedding is about getting married....
    Posted by kwieskamp
    I totally agree! We are in the same boat. My fiancé and I don't really drink, but a lot of our family members wanted alcohol, so we are offering a cash bar. We will try to add that bit of information to our invites, but we feel that we shouldn't have to pay for alcohol for everyone else if we aren't drinking it ourselves. This is 2013, how many people really pay attention to etiquette anyway?

    Are you serious?  Anyone who treats people correctly and politely pays attention to etiquette.  What on Earth do you think etiquette is?  Yeah, that statement makes me ragey too.

    I have 4 grown DD's who know proper etiquette like the back of their hand.  They know how to plan an event and completely host it. They know if they want to serve alcohol at an event they need to be able to afford enough for their guest list.  If they have a tight budget they need to shorten their guest list.  If money is really tight for whatever they are planning, they know they need to forego alcohol or postpone their event until they have more disposable cash.  Same thing applies to weddings.  Always has.

    If I attend a cash bar wedding no one will hear me complain because that would be rude.  Do I feel the hosts planned properly?  Nope.  Will they ever have a clue I feel that way?  Nope.

    I have hosted weddings for all but one of the girls.  We set the budget.  We make the guest list.  THEN we decide how we want to host that number of people and plan from their.  If they want alcohol at their weddings (which is what we have done so far), they know this will affect the size of the guest list.  It is a pretty simple concept.  We've never asked anyone to pay for anything and that will never happen at any event we host.

    imimblesdaveANDkristen
  • MoxieMickieMoxieMickie member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Comment
    edited October 2013
  • I think a quick and easy way to cut the budget is the champagne toast. You can toast with anything your guest is drinking at the moment. It isn't usually good champagne, guests take a sip and then it is thrown out.
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