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Reception Ideas

Drinking at the reception....

What are your ideas about Cash Bars/champagne fountains at the reception? Our families don't drink, but my FI thinks our friends will enjoy themselves more with the option of some sort of alcoholic drinks....your thoughts...

Do Cash bars cost the couple anything?
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Re: Drinking at the reception....

  • This is a hot controversial topic. Most people agree, as well as proper etiquette, that cash bars are rude. You don't invite someone to a party you are hosting in any location and then tell them that they have to pay for their own drinks. If you can't or won't pay for the alcohol, don't offer it, period. People do know how to enjoy themselves without alcohol if you aren't able to provide it, and many do it all the time, even at weddings, contrary to popular belief. If someone honestly isn't able to go a few hours without it, then they have issues to deal with on their own time. 
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I fiind champagne fountains gross.  The champagne goes flat quicker and just over I do not like them.

    Cash bar are considered rude in my circle.  But given the choice of cash or nothing, I would pick cash.  I would just be annoyed behind your back.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • I'm not a fan of drink fountains.

    In my circle, alcohol is expected. Cash bars also do not fly in my area ... people would be talking all night, and afterward, about how tacky a cash bar is. I think people in my area/circle would only accept an alcohol-free wedding if it were done for religious reasons or if the couple was in AA, and a cash bar if the couple was truly strapped for cash (meaning, very cheap wedding dress, no limos, minimal flowers, etc. - if you had an expensive gown or elaborate decorations you'd probably hear a lot of, "Geez, they had money for personalized menus but not for a bar?") but still wanted their guests to get a drink if they wanted.

    If you can afford alcohol and want to serve it, pay for it yourselves. Don't leave it up to your guests to fund it. Even if it doesn't cost you any cash, your guests still may see it as rude. And this is the kind of thing that if people disagree with it, they'll talk smack behind your back for months and maybe years.
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  • Cash bars are generally considered rude.  The reception is your way of thanking your guests for spending your wedding day with you, for traveling to be there in some cases, for bringing you gifts or money in most cases.  They shouldn't have pay for anything.  If you want to serve alcohol, then you should pay for it.  If you can't afford an open bar, you can serve just beer and wine. 

    I would skip champagne and have beer and wine instead.  Many people don't like champagne and it often gets wasted at weddings.
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  • edited December 2009

    I think a champagne fountain is a waste of money. A lot of people aren't huge champagne drinkers.


    Etiquette says that cash bars are rude for the reasons listed in Lasariona's post: guests shouldn't have to open their own wallets at a hosted event. Now, cash bars are common in some circles (it's still a faux pas, but maybe more accepted). However, you still risk offending some of your guests.


    From a practical standpoint, I'd much rather have the option of paying for drinks than not having them at all, I get annoyed when I have to pay for them.


    Look into just providing beer and wine - cheaper than a full open bar with liquor.

  • Cash bar would not fly in my circle. At all.

    If you do decide to do one though, spread the word by word of mouth. We've been to one wedding with cash bar and no one knew about it and no one had cash.
  • Cash bar wouldn't fly in my circle either, at all.  Hell, my stepsister's wedding a few years ago had a cash bar, and my siblings and I all left after the spotlight dances to see a movie.  I wouldn't knock any of my friends for not providing alcohol or limiting the bar, but I would definitely grumble if they were asking me to pay for it. 

    Champagne fountains are just an all around bad idea.  The champagne goes flat, it's not terribly sanitary, and a lot of people don't really drink champagne.  I think that money would be better spent trying to provide at least beer and wine.
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    Sometimes I feel like people think that brides are delicate little flower princesses who get all dressed up and pretty for one special moment of their dreams, when really they're just normal people who just happen to be getting married. Things shouldn't have to be sugar-coated for grown-ass women. -mstar284
  • I agree the champagne fountain isn't the best idea for the primary reason that it would go flat. Maybe a punch fountain instead? I think fountains are very pretty but try using something that won't go flat.

    Cash bars are about all they do in my area. To answer your question if you do a cash bar it is usually no charge to the couple but that does depend on the venue's rules. My venue had a setup fee which they waived for the bar. They also have a rule that if the bar does not make $75/hr we have to cover the price. Other places have no rules and no fees involved.
    Although I understand why a lot of people think they are rude, since guests are attending a hosted party, but some people just dont have it in their budget to pay for everyone's drinks. It can get very costly. If its between cash bar and no bar at all, I would recommend a cash bar.
    Since some cash bars include all alcoholic beverages, You could provide all the beer and wine for free to your guests but have them pay for hard liquor since thats what gets pricey. My venue charges $250 per keg which is a lot higher then if we could bring our own in (but we can't of course).

    Another popular option is to have a signature cocktail of some type provided to your guests for free but any other drink they would have to pay for. Again not idea, but if you can't afford to stock the bar, its certainly better then nothing!

    My sisters wedding was a full bar, no one had to pay for anything and some people took advantage of this and got so drunk it was embarrasing. I knew I wasn't going to do that for my wedding. I dont want a 100 drunk people, but I would like them to have a couple drinks and a good time! Hard liquor my guests are paying for but again, this is the trend in my city and completely expected by our guests.

  • LasairionaLasairiona member
    500 Comments
    edited December 2009
    Even if you do have a cash bar, that won't stop some people from drinking if they intend to (get drunk). While charging to drink may stop some, there are people who will go to the ends of the earth for a drink, even if they have to borrow money from someone else to get it or take advantage of situations where the bridal party doesn't have to pay so then the bridal party is conned into being the middleman bartender and aren't able to enjoy themselves at all. Serve what you can afford and don't offer what you can't. Only you can decide what your priorities are in this area, if you choose to serve alcohol or not, especially since you said many of your guests won't be partaking of it.

    Before you decide on beer/wine only, make sure that your guests will actually drink those, since there are quite a few people who don't like either.
  • Cash bars are frowned upon in my circle as well. A good friend of mine got married last year and she and her now DH paid for everything themselves for a guest list of 250! They sacrificed a lot while planning their wedding, and I completely understood why they couldn't provide an open bar, but believe me people were talking about it all night which made me feel bad for them because of everything they went through to make their wedding happen. It's the only wedding I've ever been to that didn't have an open bar.

    I definitely agree with pp's that you shouldn't host an event and then have your guests pay for stuff. Try to offer a limited bar such as beer and wine or a signature drink. Or place a few bottles of wine at each table so that the guests who would like to have a drink or two have the option to without being charged for it. HTH!
  • I really, really hate the pro-cash bar argument that "Well, I don't want to pay for people to get obnoxiously drunk and then be liable if something happens to them."  Look, it doesn't work that way.

    How do you think people get obnoxiously drunk in bars?  If a person wants to get themselves completely hammered, they'll pull out their wallet to do so.  Responsible adults know how to behave themselves at weddings, and irresponsible adults won't consider the consequences of their actions, either behaviorially or financially.

    And just like a bar can technically be held liable for not cutting off or taking the keys from one of its patrons who's over the limit, the hosts of the wedding in most cases are the ones who will be liable if their guests cause any damage either at the wedding or on their way home, regardless of who paid.  (This varies by location, obviously.)

    If you're cheap enough to ask your guests to take on some of the burden of paying for your wedding, fine.  But don't pretend that doing so somehow makes you more responsible.  You might be fooling yourself, but you're not fooling anyone else.
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    Sometimes I feel like people think that brides are delicate little flower princesses who get all dressed up and pretty for one special moment of their dreams, when really they're just normal people who just happen to be getting married. Things shouldn't have to be sugar-coated for grown-ass women. -mstar284
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Cash bars are rude.  If they don't cost you any money, they will still cost you the respect of your guests.

    If you don't want to offer alcohol, don't, but you could probably offer a decent amount of beer/wine for what you would have spent on a champagne fountain.
  • I completely agree with Aerin about the "people won't get drunk if I have a cash bar" argument.  That's completely silly.  I've gotten as drunk at a cash bar wedding as I did at an open bar wedding.  Having a cash bar will not magically make the adults be more responsible about their drinking.

    For the OP, can you do beer and wine, skip the champagne?  Or is a consumption bar an option, where the drinks are free for the guest and then at the end of the night the bride/groom gets a bill for the amount of booze drank?  You say your families don't drink so I wouldn't think the bill would be huge.  Do a cash bar as a last resort; I'd rather have to pay for drinks than not even have the option.
  • Please don't use the logic or argument that a cash bar will prevent people from getting drunk.  If you don't believe me, go to a bar tomorrow night and see what people do there.

    Whatever you do opt to provide, please don't charge your guests for it.  You don't have to offer alcohol but if that's something your guests would appreciate, a few choice beverages would be very nice.
  • In Response to Re: Drinking at the reception....:
    [QUOTE]I completely agree with Aerin about the "people won't get drunk if I have a cash bar" argument.  That's completely silly.  I've gotten as drunk at a cash bar wedding as I did at an open bar wedding.  Having a cash bar will not magically make the adults be more responsible about their drinking. For the OP, can you do beer and wine, skip the champagne?  Or is a consumption bar an option, where the drinks are free for the guest and then at the end of the night the bride/groom gets a bill for the amount of booze drank?  You say your families don't drink so I wouldn't think the bill would be huge.  Do a cash bar as a last resort; I'd rather have to pay for drinks than not even have the option.
    Posted by mocha beans[/QUOTE]We're doing this.  We're offering wine and beer and only paying for what everyone drinks.  FI says that his family aren't really into drinking and we're having and afternoon reception, which means less drinking.
    I've never even heard of a cash bar before TK.  They are terribly rude.  When you have people over for dinner, do you force them to pay for any drinks?  If the answer is no, then you shouldn't be thinking about a cash bar.  
  • Cash bars are rude, please don't do it. Look into what your venue can offer you as far as liquor options.  We are having beer & wine only.  Most of our friends/family drink one or the other so everyone will be happy, and it also helped cut the cost down a lot.  And as far as the argument that other PPs mentioned about cash bars keeping people from getting drunk...PPs are right, it won't stop those who want to, and actually venues have insurance to cover THEIR liability if they overserve and something happens to someone. 

    Look into your alcohol options at the venue. And don't be afraid to ask questions.  At first, our lady at the venue told us the full bar option, I asked if we could have wine and beer only and she said yes. Came back to me a couple days later with the quote for that cost. Also, we didn't like the house wine they serve so we asked if we found another brand we like with a comparable price, would they bring that in for us and she said yes. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
    Crosswalk
  • Wow I am sooo glad I don't live the places that some of you ladies live! We are getting married in the Dominican Republic with just the bridal party, very close friends and some family. With the economy being what it is right now we figured alot of people will not be able to attend the wedding down there. So we are also having a home reception 2 weeks after we get home. With not only having 1 but 2 receptions we opted for a cash bar for the home reception. For cocktail hour we are doing the beer and wine thing. But even that's being run on an comsumption tab. The rest of the night will be cash bar. My only advice ( and I didn't even know this until I talked to the girl who is designing my invitations) somewhere on your invitations put that it will be a cash bar. That way people know it before they come so if they would like to drink they bring some money. Maybe doing this will help with the complainers... They can get it out of their systems before the day of the reception! LOL! Good luck with your planning!
  • The complainers might "get it out of their system" or they may change how they approach the reception in general.

    Telling people that you're having a cash bar doesnt' suddenly make what you're doing appropriate.  If you're going against what your social circle finds to be appropriate then all you'll have done is given the guests weeks to discuss the inappropriateness.
  • Regarding a cash bar to prevent drunk guests: Are you also planning on charging per slice of cake so you aren't "enabling" obesity?

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  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    In Response to Re: Drinking at the reception....:
    [QUOTE]Wow I am sooo glad I don't live the places that some of you ladies live! We are getting married in the Dominican Republic with just the bridal party, very close friends and some family. With the economy being what it is right now we figured alot of people will not be able to attend the wedding down there. So we are also having a home reception 2 weeks after we get home. With not only having 1 but 2 receptions we opted for a cash bar for the home reception. For cocktail hour we are doing the beer and wine thing. But even that's being run on an comsumption tab. The rest of the night will be cash bar. My only advice ( and I didn't even know this until I talked to the girl who is designing my invitations) somewhere on your invitations put that it will be a cash bar. That way people know it before they come so if they would like to drink they bring some money. Maybe doing this will help with the complainers... They can get it out of their systems before the day of the reception! LOL! Good luck with your planning!
    Posted by ckctelli2011[/QUOTE]

    Wow!  How incredibly rude. 

    You decided to have a destination wedding and are recouping the cost by being rude to your guests at your AHR. 

    If you don't care enough about these people to provide for them at the AHR, just skip it.  It's going to come off like the gift grab that it is. 
  • In Response to Re: Drinking at the reception....:
    [QUOTE]Wow I am sooo glad I don't live the places that some of you ladies live! We are getting married in the Dominican Republic with just the bridal party, very close friends and some family. With the economy being what it is right now we figured alot of people will not be able to attend the wedding down there. So we are also having a home reception 2 weeks after we get home. With not only having 1 but 2 receptions we opted for a cash bar for the home reception. For cocktail hour we are doing the beer and wine thing. But even that's being run on an comsumption tab. The rest of the night will be cash bar. My only advice ( and I didn't even know this until I talked to the girl who is designing my invitations) somewhere on your invitations put that it will be a cash bar. That way people know it before they come so if they would like to drink they bring some money. Maybe doing this will help with the complainers... They can get it out of their systems before the day of the reception! LOL! Good luck with your planning!
    Posted by ckctelli2011[/QUOTE]
    There is no excuse to have a cash bar, bad economy or not.  There are other ways to save money on alcohol (including not serving it).  I'm so tired of people using the economy as an excuse for bad manners.  As someone who is on a tight budget, I can tell you that its been tough.  FI and I have only 10% of the wedding money saved up.   We've cut our guest list, we're each having only one attendant, and we're having an afternoon reception.  Still, we're not having people pay for their own drinks.  Yikes!
    P.S.  If money is such an issue, you should just JOP it at the courthouse.  Here it will run you a total of $60 for the license and ceremony.  
  • We cut our guest list drastically, moved the location, and pretty much abandoned all of our initial plans at a fairly advanced stage, because we couldn't afford the bar at our dream venue.  Even with the cuts, we can't afford a full bar, but we wanted to make sure that whatever we could afford to provide was fully paid for.  Dry or cash bar just simply wasn't an option. 

    The economy sucks for everyone.  But rather than asking your guests to cover part of the cost of your wedding, simply offer only what you can fully afford to host.  No one is saying that your options are either full premium open bar or cash.  We're only serving beer and wine, because that's what we can afford.
    This is a neglected planning bio.
    This is a belated married bio, with no reviews yet because I'm lazy.

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    Sometimes I feel like people think that brides are delicate little flower princesses who get all dressed up and pretty for one special moment of their dreams, when really they're just normal people who just happen to be getting married. Things shouldn't have to be sugar-coated for grown-ass women. -mstar284
  • No need to be so harsh about all this i think differant locations have differant ideas of what's acceptable. I myself have been to 2 weddings with cash bars and heard no complaining and i did none myself. If i have not saved enough as the the time nears for my wedding i will be doing a cash bar as well and i am sure that all my wonderful friends and family we have invited will be more than happy to drink on their own dime as long as they have the options available. Either way it can't hurt to ask a few people. Love you Shawn!
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Just because people have enough class not to complain doesn't mean that you should ask them to pay for a portion of your wedding.
  • No i believe it means they are they are friends and family who truely care. i tend to surround myself with positive genuine and understanding people, like my fiance. And I literally just called half of my guest list on this issue and they all said cash bar is what they had (married couples) and expect nothing more than the toasting wine from their hosts. I'd say case closed for me. I really believe it's all locational.
  • It may be locational but if that's the case, you wouldn't ask yourself what to do.  You'd be going with the norm that 'everyone' does.

    If you have to ask then quite possibly what you're doing is inappropriate.

    And it may be a locational norm but unless all your guests are from that location, this is why following a social norm that's against proper etiquette can be something that the guests just don't like.

    Also, your comment that "it means that they are friends and family who truly care" is bunk.  My friends and family truly care about me but if I asked them to pay for what they were drinking at my wedding, they'd wonder if I cared about THEM.

  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    My friends and family truly care.  But I truly care about them, too, so I wouldn't do something rude to them, even though I know they'd forgive me.
  • I've been to a wedding that was on a strict budget and unable to serve a full open bar. Instead, they did the beer and wine only option, which was not overly expensive. A few kegs and a couple boxes of red and white wine got the entire party through the night and I think people understood and appreciated the gesture of options.
  • I as a drinker have never understand why a couple getting married is expected to pay for my drunkeness. I would prefer a cash bar OVER NO BAR. hands down.  I am not standing around bored, making small talk, or dancing poorly w/o booze.
  • Why does hosted mean you're getting drunk?  We provided tons of food but that doesn't mean that we wanted our guests to binge eat.
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