So ladies, I just finished the final draft of my guest list and it came to a whooping 400! That's with kids and adults.
So..my FI family and friends are pretty big drinkers, but I'm not sure I want an open bar for the entire 7 hours that we will be at the reception (2 hours for dinner).
So my FFIL suggested we use tickets..and my FI suggested we give out passes in the invite and have the bartender punch holes in them for each drink.
I'm not sure what would work better or more smoothly. I just don't want it to look tacky. So besides just having an open bar for a couple hours and then making it a cash bar do you have any suggestions?
Have any of you done anything special to control the bar? Would love to hear any ideas!
I've heard of the option where you can say you are going to pay for a certain amount and the bar keeps track of how many drinks are going out. After that amount is reached, it's a cash bar. For example, if you only want to pay for up to $3000 for the bar, the'll keep track of the tab, and once it reaches that limit, then it turns into a cash bar. I went to a wedding where they did that and it kinda kept the pressure off the couple since it was the bartender saying it's a cash bar now, instead of it coming from the hosts. I think it gives the feeling of an open bar without a huge surprise price tag.
I personally think any kind of cash bar or ticket type bar is a little on the tacky side. (That's generally just not how things are where I'm from and in my circle of friends.)
If I were you, I'd do wine, beer, and a signature cocktail (or two!) instead of a full open bar. Your bar budget will go a lot farther and you won't run the risks of people thinking you're "de classe" or worse, not having cash and not being able to enjoy the bar at all! That's a long reception, lol!
Not having an open bar is kind of taboo where I live, but it can get expensive. The ticket thins is getting to be more common. Or set a flat rate like PP said.
I think the whole ticket thing doesn't always work because some people don't drink.
You have ton options. I think a limited bar with just beer and wine. Another option is to not open the bar until the dancing starts and only have it open for a couple of hours.
Another idea is maybe not doing alcohol and having juice and mocktails, and serving wine/champagne at each table.
By the way there will probably come in here and starting throwing around the Tacky word. Ignore them! The only tacky about not having an open bar, is those guest that will judge you for it, people shouldn't be going to weddings for the alcohol. You also shouldn't stress yourself out or put yourself in debt trying to pay for an open bar when you can't afford it.
If we have a sit down dinner we're having wine service only for 2 hours at dinner. and then a 2 hour open bar after dinner. I'm not a fan of this but it is what the venue offers with our package. I'm thinking about having the strolling reception package just so we can have a full 4 hour open bar.
Maybe do wine and beer only with dinner and then an open bar afterwards?
I think the easiest way to handle this is to have a limited bar.
You could also offer open (or limited bar) and then just wine service with dinner.
I do not believe in charging guests for any portion of your hospitality, nor do I believe in allowing guests to pay for upgrades to the hosted portions.
Toonie bars are super common here in Canada the guests pay $2, host tab picks up the rest. So it's like a half cash/half hosted bar.
I think you have a few viable options. Aside from cutting the guest list, you can:
Have a limited amount of alcohol available and then cash bar after...if you have 400 guests, you are being way more than generous.
The ticket thing sounds ok- but I would make sure you do it up "cutely" so it doesn't come off as "cheap" even though I know you are not.
Have so many bottles of wine at the table for people to drink and once it's gone it's gone
See if the place you are having the wedding will do a cheaper price per person if you only service the "lower" quality beer and wine and liquor...or just wine and beer
I'm sure it will all work out. Best of luck!
Why do you need 2 hours for dinner? What are people going to be doing 30 minutes in after they have finished eating...?
400 is also a crazy huge guest list! Do you guys have really big families? Or are a lot of those aquaintences instead of close friends? Or obligation invites? I bet you could easily trim at least 100-150 people off that list.
If neither of those are palatable, whatever you do, dont put the drink tickets in the invite. People barely remember to RSVP, let alone keep track of and remember to bring little drink tickets from their invites!
What is it you are trying to control? Cost? or consumption?
If it's cost, then limit the bar to certain type of alcohol. Maybe you could haev a full bar for cocktail hour but then beer and wine the rest of the night. If you are trying to control how much people drink, just don't. 1. It won't work. People who don't drink will give their tickets to people who will. 2. Some guests will forget their tickets and be pissed off. 3. It's not polite to presume that your adult guests cannot handle themselves.
A 7 hour reception is . . . long. As is 2 hours for dinner. You can close the bar for dinner and just have wine on tables. I recently went to a wedding where they just had a signature drink, passed by waiters, during the cocktail hour and it was really really nice. You could just open the bar fully during dancing maybe.
These are all good suggestions! What about just beer and wine?? And shortening the reception perhaps?
Beer and wine and one signature drink?
@crayfish: I figured two hours for dinner and appetizers...since it's so many people I figured we would need a lot of time. The FI has a huge family. More than half of he guests are his family. I tried to trim the guest list, but it didn't work.
My venue is kind of confusing in that the rate for 4 hours of beer & soda is $18 per person, but for a 4-hour package of hosted bar with beer, WINE and soda, it's $28 per person...I'm like, that's a $10 bottle of wine PER PERSON? Does anybody drink that much!?
If you could get the cap and say you'll pay for a few specific drinks (all beer, wine and rail drinks or something) it can go a long way - especially if the bar is closed during dinner.
Someone suggested to me that we make signs for the bar that say something like "Cheers! Enjoy beer and wine on us from 5-6 and 7-10" so you don't have to make a weird announcement, it's clearly posted and the bartender doesn't have to re-explain to every single person
@purpleturtle: Does anyone drink a whole bottle of wine? OHHHHH YEAH!
We were able to substantially cut our expected bar bill by offering 2 kinds of beer on keg, 4 kinds of wine by the bottle, and a signature drink (purchased by the gallon from the venue). I figure just about everyone should be able to find something they like in that mix.
As I start to plan my wedding I realize that it's probably going to be a pretty big reception, ( I have a huge family and they're all pretty big drinkers) So what we're doing is offering a few specialty drinks (actually four special drinks - we're doing a "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" theme, and then beer and soda. This still gives plenty of options for drinks, but its not a huge cost like it would be with an open bar.
Also, the ticket idea may be kind of tricky, what if guests forget their tickets, ( i know it'd be there fault... but they'd probably be pretty upset)
You could do a multipurpouse ticket and have the place card/seating card doule as a drink ticket!
Just a thought!
If you are looking to cut a lot of cost, I would do boxed wine (they are much improved). We did that and "disguised" them in these dispensers https://www.etsy.com/listing/122270805/box-wine-barrel-dispenser-with-letters ...
@Msmay14: +1 , open bar to a limit - make sure that non alcoholic beverages are not included in that amount. Also some people dont bring $ to a wedding. Having an ATM on site for this purpose would be a good idea. You can rent them. Just make sure it is in a place that is reasonable and out of the way of the card box! (I don't think I will ever forget an episode of Rich Bride Poor Bride, where the bride had an ATM put next to their cardbox, NOW THAT IS TACKY!)
@crayfish: I agree, my mom gets invited to a ton of weddings and not only does she forget to RSVP sometimes, she loses directions cards ALL of the time! Luckily there's GPS, but still. And she was just recently invited to a wedding where they sent valet parking vouchers with the invite and she lost it! (Wow, my mom sounds really flakey! haha she's not, really.) Turns out there were no other parking options and my parents had to park a half mile away from the venue and walk down a busy street with no sidewalks to get to the wedding.
So, if you're going to limit the bar or do a cash bar, don't make it the guests responsibility to bring a ticket or do any kind of work what-so-ever.
We're buying a keg of beer and three cases of wine, and it's unlimited beer, wine and soda until the beer and wine we bought runs out. Then it becomes cash bar for everything but soda.
@Msmay14: Couldn't agree more. We're going to be setting a limit for our bar, once it's reached it'll turn to cash. It keeps costs within our budget, but still allows our guests alot of drinks. Due to our small guestlist (50) we may or may not reach the cap amount but we wanted to be safe as we are paying for this wedding ourselves and can't afford to go over. The bar tab can add up very quickly, best to be safe!
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