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Reception Ideas

The bar

We are having an at-home reception (more like a nice, fun party for everybody..not a traditional wedding reception by any means) a couple months after our wedding day since we currently live 6000 miles away from home.

I really don't want to have a total open bar (I know there's mixed emotions about this, but we cannot afford a $10,000+ bar tab and having a dry reception is NOT an option with this crowd), so I am torn between two options:

Option A) Have an open bar for beer and wine only, no liquor available except for a "signature"-type cocktail..we were thinking of having a Mai Tai to incorporate a little Hawaii into the party (that's where we live currently, home is back in Maine)

Option B) Pay for drinks for the first 2 hours (while people are eating and whatnot) or come up with a pre-determined budget for the bar and then switch to a cash bar once the 2 hours is up or the limit is reached..my issue with this is that how do you let your guests know the drinks are complimentary for the first 2 hours only? I really don't want to have people thinking it's all free and then go up for their 4th drink only to find they have to pay for it. That's embarrassing. And if we pre-determine a budget, should the bar just close up shop once the limit has been reached?

I understand the concept that since we are hosting a party we should be paying for everything, but I'm just trying to be realistic and not get ourselves into debt over some booze.

Any tips or advice for a budget-friendly bar without going totally cash bar?

Re: The bar

  • edited April 2011
    I can not afford an open bar for my wedding nor will either side of our families pay for one.  We lost our cousin a few years ago the night of a wedding.  It was an open bar and he drank too much.  He was only going 1 exit down from the reception to the hotel and went off the road and died. 

    I see nothing wrong with just cocktail hour, wine with dinner or beer, wine and a signature cocktail as long as someone will be watching your guests as to not have this happen.

    It also depends on your guest list.  In my circle cash bars are the norm with the exception of open bar during cocktail hour and wine is usually provided at dinner.

    Also, you're $10,000 is not too far off. My venue would be just under that for a 250+ wedding.
  • Just want to point something out--you keep saying you hope the tab won't be too high--are you thinking about a consumption bar or a true open bar? A consumption bar is when you are charged per drink and you have a tab at the end of the night that you have to pay. An open bar usually has a set price per person, so you know the tab beforehand and pay beforehand.
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  • A lot of venues have been charging crazy amounts for open bar, so I could se how it could be $10,000.  Due to the ultra high prices, many couples are choosing to serve beer and wine.  That's fine. 

    Also, AHR are usually for destination weddings.  Everyone is invited to both the wedding and the AHR.  
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_bar-4?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:5Discussion:9125b876-3feb-443c-b9ff-b31c4a555c03Post:75d23d0a-9fa1-41b4-b621-557161c49476">Re: The bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]Just want to point something out--you keep saying you hope the tab won't be too high--are you thinking about a consumption bar or a true open bar? A consumption bar is when you are charged per drink and you have a tab at the end of the night that you have to pay. An open bar usually has a set price per person, so you know the tab beforehand and pay beforehand.
    Posted by courtneyclare103[/QUOTE]

    Oh, thank you for pointing that out! I didn't really know the difference between consumption vs. open bar. I definitely do not want the consumption bar, I wouldn't be able to sit back and enjoy the party, I would just be looking at all the empty bottles thinking "ohhhhh..shhht*t" lol. So I guess I need to clarify to the coordinator we want the open bar priced per person beforehand. Thanks!
  • lamoureux86lamoureux86 member
    10 Comments
    edited April 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_bar-4?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:5Discussion:9125b876-3feb-443c-b9ff-b31c4a555c03Post:c699f423-47b6-402e-9374-410b39659ec5">Re: The bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]A lot of venues have been charging crazy amounts for open bar, so I could se how it could be $10,000.  Due to the ultra high prices, many couples are choosing to serve beer and wine.  That's fine.  <strong>Also, AHR are usually for destination weddings.  Everyone is invited to both the wedding and the AHR.  </strong>
    Posted by Goldlie11[/QUOTE]

    Yea, I just don't know what else to call it. We aren't even calling it a reception, it's really just a party to get everyone together to celebrate our marriage (it will be the first time anyone sees us together as a married couple since we live so far away)..but I just shorten it up and describe it as an AHR here on the message boards to make things simple. =)
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_bar-4?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:5Discussion:9125b876-3feb-443c-b9ff-b31c4a555c03Post:9237a024-8923-497c-b863-2940a39cd2be">Re: The bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: The bar : Oh, thank you for pointing that out! I didn't really know the difference between consumption vs. open bar. I definitely do not want the consumption bar, I wouldn't be able to sit back and enjoy the party, I would just be looking at all the empty bottles thinking "ohhhhh..shhht*t" lol. So I guess I need to clarify to the coordinator we want the open bar priced per person beforehand. Thanks!
    Posted by lamoureux86[/QUOTE]

    HTH!
    Photobucket
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_bar-4?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:5Discussion:9125b876-3feb-443c-b9ff-b31c4a555c03Post:f3725fb7-4a1f-4036-86fa-15a31a8b94c3">Re: The bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]I can not afford an open bar for my wedding nor will either side of our families pay for one.  We lost our cousin a few years ago the night of a wedding.  It was an open bar and he drank too much.  He was only going 1 exit down from the reception to the hotel and went off the road and died.  I see nothing wrong with just cocktail hour, wine with dinner or beer, wine and a signature cocktail as long as someone will be watching your guests as to not have this happen. It also depends on your guest list.  In my circle cash bars are the norm with the exception of open bar during cocktail hour and wine is usually provided at dinner. Also, you're $10,000 is not too far off. My venue would be just under that for a 250+ wedding.
    Posted by DirtyWater[/QUOTE]<div>
    </div><div>I'm very sorry for what happened to your cousin, but that can happen at an open bar or a cash bar.  It happens when people leave bars where they have been paying for drinks all night, so while it was a tragedy, it is not the fault of the wedding.  And I definitely don't think your guests need to have a drink babysitter because of it.  It would make me very uncomfortable.</div><div>
    </div><div>OP I see that you have already decided to host beer, wine, and a signature drink, and that is your best option.  There is nothing wrong with hosting a limited bar, the important part is that you are hosting it.  And hosting for part of your reception but not all is just wrong, and confusing to your guests.  

    </div>
    image BabyFruit Ticker
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_bar-4?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:5Discussion:9125b876-3feb-443c-b9ff-b31c4a555c03Post:f3725fb7-4a1f-4036-86fa-15a31a8b94c3">Re: The bar</a>:
    [QUOTE]I can not afford an open bar for my wedding nor will either side of our families pay for one.  We lost our cousin a few years ago the night of a wedding.  It was an open bar and he drank too much.  He was only going 1 exit down from the reception to the hotel and went off the road and died.  <font color="#3366ff">I see nothing wrong with just cocktail hour, wine with dinner or beer, wine and a signature cocktail as long as someone will be watching your guests as to not have this happen.</font> It also depends on your guest list.  In my circle cash bars are the norm with the exception of open bar during cocktail hour and wine is usually provided at dinner. Also, you're $10,000 is not too far off. My venue would be just under that for a 250+ wedding.
    Posted by DirtyWater[/QUOTE]

    I am not saying a "drink babysitter."  Just the bartender or the DOC to say hey you're cut off if they see anyone stumbling or overly intoxicated.  And to clear things up my cousin only had 2 drinks that night according to his tox screening so his actions are not punishing people its just that his situation has made people scared. 

    My guests don't feel like they are being punished there are plenty of issues in both of our families and neither side wants a chance of something bad happening or having to be responsible for someone's last drink.  They all know it is not uncommon for a cash bar in our circle so its not a big deal to them or us.
  • I like the idea of beer, wine, and signature drink. I think that is what we are going to do. I would do kegs instead of buying packages of beer. You get double the amount of beer for the same price. Also, you could find a friend-of-a-friend to bartend and they could just collect tips. I have worked in a situation like this, and they can make a lot in tips. When people aren't paying for drinks they are very generous in tips.
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