(Closed) Cash or Open Bar at Afternoon Reception?

posted 5 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
1832 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: January 2013

For me personally, I would say open bar, you should be able to trust your guest enough that they won’t get sloppy falling down drunk at your wedding, and trust the bartender to cut people off if they have had to much. If your trying to save money why not do a limited open bar of just beer, wine, and one signautre drink. There is no need for a virgin drink since soda, water, coffee, tea and juice will be available to your guest that do not drink.

Post # 4
3625 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

Darling Husband and I had a limited open bar – several kinds wine and beer plus two signature drinks, one virgin and one not. It worked out fine for our late afternoon/early evening wedding. We absolutely do not like cash bars so we would rather limit the choices and make it all “free” rather than having everyone pay their way.

Is it BYOB for your alcohol or are you paying per head to your caterer? We had about 70 people and our caterer covered the soft bar (sodas, juice, H2O) and we provided all the alcohol. We paid about $10/bottle for wine at the BevMo wine sale and paid about $1/bottle for nicer beers (e.g. Stella) at Costco. We ended up with a lot of leftover bottles and all our drinkers were very satiated. Our total spend was probably $400(?) but again, we overbought.


Post # 5
1917 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

I would just serve beer, wine and soft drinks and leave it at that.

Post # 6
310 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

I have the exact same timeline, and I’m doing a full open bar (with premium liquor).  I was a bit afraid that a few guests would get out of line, but I decided to stop worrying about it.  Even though the open bar costs $44/person, I chalked it up as one of those expenses that I have to be comfortable with.  I’m not a fan of cash bars because I often don’t have cash on me, and would hate to have to go dry at a reception. LOL

Good luck to you!

Post # 7
882 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

Open bar. I always vote for open bar-in fact, I never knew drink ticket, cash, or limited bars were as popular as they are before I stumbled upon wb. In my circle (most are from one of two major cities on the east coast)-they’re unheard of and I’m sure the bride/groom would hear an earful about it if they had one. As for your situation of having a wedding in the day-I’d still do a full open bar-think about when your family/friends go out to brunch. When we do there are a lot of different drinks that are ordered-beer, wine, bloody Mary’s, mimosas, bellinis, vodka soda. IMO, people are more likely to be more picky at what they want to drink during the day as opposed to at night! Good luck-but remember you know your guests better than us-so go with what you and your Fiance think will go over best!

Post # 8
7174 posts
Busy Beekeeper

Open Bar.

Nothing wrong with a signature drink or two (in addition to an open bar, with perhaps a non-alcoholic punch and soda/water for the non drinkers)

Post # 9
883 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

always an open bar, invited guests should not have to pay for anything.

If $ are the issue, limit it to beer/wine.


Post # 10
5479 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

We had an afternoon wedding and hosted a full open bar.  Our second option if we couldn’t fit the full open bar into our budget was to host beer & wine, and perhaps a signature cocktail… and of course either way soft drinks, tea, lemonade, and water were free for our guests.

Post # 11
7904 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2012 - Pelican Grand Beach Resort

I would definitely have the open bar, but at that time of day I might limit to only certain types of drinks to keep things manageable. I’d allow absolutely no shots and I’d proabably stick to beer, wine, and happy cocktails… mimosas, margaritas, daquiris, etc… no one needs a scotch on the rocks or a gin and tonic at 1pm (though I LOVE gin and tonic).

I think alcohol should be hosted if it will be available, so I would never have a cash bar.

Post # 13
1835 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2012 - Oak Tree Manor

@princess_r:  We’re having a beer/wine/signature drink bar for the same reason – my mom will not be amused if guests are falling all over the place and being drunk messes. As for the variety of beer – if it costs the same either way, more variety is always better! I think we’ll be serving 3-4 different kinds – our venue is BYOB so we lucked out, my Future Father-In-Law is just going to the liquor store this weekend to buy some cases of a few different beers. The important thing is to have one light beer and one dark beer, because a lot of beer drinkers are picky about one or the other. (I personally prefer light beer…) Good luck!

Post # 14
2116 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

🙂 My wedding is from 10AM – 3PM, and we’re doing a consumption bar offering wine, beer, and mimosas. This means that instead of paying a set amount per person, we’re paying the tab at the end of the event. It saves us money because people will not be drinking nearly as much as they might at a later event.


We also asked our venue to please alert us when the tab reaches $2,000 (before tax/gratuity) because at that point, we’d like to evaluate whether or not we want to extend consumption bar hours or switch to a cash bar or what. My guess is we won’t hit though $2,000 😉

Post # 15
11234 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

@inky_1:  I think we’re going to go the consumption route, too. Open bar was way too expensive (even with the lowest alcohol type level!), and they wouldn’t cut the cost for just beer and wine for us.

OP, unfortunately, people seem to just be focusing on cash bar vs. open bar, rather than the fact that people don’t really need to be drinking hard liquor at lunch time. I’d stick with beer, wine, and a couple signature drinks.

Post # 16
486 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

If you have the option of a consumption bar, that could work for you. We just got married early Oct and we provided our own alcohol. Based on what was actually drunk, we could have bought about 1/3 of what we provided. And we think because it was starting to get cold that people didn’t want to get icy drinks, though in Canada that might be much of a problem as you guys have a better tolerance for cold! So we ended up with soooo much left over liquor, wine, and beer. Thankfully we get to keep it, but at some places we’d have paid $30 a head for liquor and everyone drank $1 worth. For beer(again I know we have different ones here) we got Yeungling, Coors light, and Budweiser. I have an aunt and uncle who drink Coors like water, so that of course was popular. Second place was Yeungling, and not one Bud was drank. I can’t believe you can’t get Labatt!!! But our basic idea was one light beer choice, one lager, and one…whatever Budweiser is…something nasty haha.

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