Open bar in the UK

posted 2 years ago in Reception
  • poll: Is a cash bar acceptable in the UK? (welcome drinks/meal drinks/fizzy toast provided)
    No, it's tacky. : (4 votes)
    17 %
    Yes, it's what I would expect. : (17 votes)
    74 %
    I wouldn't expect it but I wouldn't mind. : (1 votes)
    4 %
    Other (state below) : (1 votes)
    4 %
  • Member
    4865 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: April 2012

    I think the norm in the UK is to lay on a few drinks after the ceremony and during the meal and then go to cash bar. Occasionally there will be some money behind the bar over that but a full free bar is VERY unusual.

    Don’t let US attitudes on this stress you. A free bar is not the norm anywhere in the UK.

    Member
    1303 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: June 2013

    @LoveandMarriage:  hi I’m in the uk too. This totally comes down to your social group. If every wedding you’ve been to had a cash bar it’s probably the same for your guests so go for it! I’ve never been to a wedding with a cash bar so when I got married we didn’t have one as its not the norm for our guests. Good luck and enjoy the wedding!!! 

    Member
    456 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: November 2012

    What SpecialSundae  said.

    I think in the US they get a better deal for drinks to be included in their wedding package when they hire somewhere. In the UK however that is rarely the case. I’ve never been to a single wedding where it was a free bar (and I’ve been to about 9 in just the last 2 summers alone) I don’t expect there to be a free bar and I don’t begrudge cash bars. I’ve done the figures on what a free bar would cost and it could add another £5k on the top of my total wedding bill, unless your loaded, I really wouldn’t stretch yourself to accommodate that.

    When I was looking for a wedding venue I did however look for one where we could bring our own alcohol. We settled on a venue that allows you to bring in alcohol during the day (with corkage fee to pay for service) and we’re having a cash bar in the evening. We’ve negotiated a price so the drinks are priced resonably and frankly anyone who didn’t come because it was a cash bar isn’t someone I would want at my wedding!

    Member
    400 posts
    Helper bee

    I think it’s normal for people in the uk to just buy our own drinks at weddings, it’s really rare that there’s an open bar, I mean it’s wikid when there is one tho haha!

    Member
    1032 posts
    Bumble bee

    I’d buy my own drinks if I went out for the evening, so I don’t expect a wedding to be any different!

    Glass of something sparkly on arrival, half a bottle of wine per guest with the meal and a glass of sparkly for the toast, and then a cash bar later on.

    That’s what I’m doing, and what has been done at most weddings I’ve gone to.

    I did go to one wedding where no drinks were provided for guests, but she was on a mega budget so I didn’t mind. What I did mind, though, was that the bar didn’t accept card! Can you believe it?! And the reception was in pub! That wound people up because the nearest cash machine was a taxi ride away. I ordered a bottle of prosecco and they opened it before telling me that it was cash only – I used the entire contents of my purse on that bottle and couldn’t buy any more drinks all night! #fail

    Member
    2336 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: October 2014 - UK

    As others have said – I think it’s standard to have a welcome drink, and maybe a glass of wine with the meal, and something bubbly for the toasts, and most venues offer that as part of their standard package. But anything beyond that I would expect to have to pay. It’s perfectly normal and reasonable!

    To be honest, I think whilst people might be pleased you have an open bar, in the UK if you’re extremely wealthy and you have one, knowing people here then you might even get a few comments about spending too much on your wedding! One doesn’t want to look like one is flashing one’s cash about too much, ostentation just isn’t cricket, y’know. ;)

    Member
    2336 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: October 2014 - UK

    @Soon2BeeMrsG:  I’ve been wondering about getting my own alcohol in – partly because we thought it would be good fun to go and choose our own wines and beers – but the corkage charge was what put me off. One place we looked at was like £9 PER BOTTLE. When we were looking at £5.00 bottles of sparkling rose (from Majestic though – nice stuff!) it got a bit silly when we started totting up corkage fees.

    I’m not too up on it though – is the per-bottle fee normal, or do they generally give you a one-off payment for the whole night?

    Member
    1817 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: February 2012

    I was pleasantly surprised at my friend’s wedding where she supplied more than the normal bottle of wine per couple at the reception, but in general when tending a wedding in the UK I expect to pay for my drinks, and I highly doubt that a Brit would find this tacky.  The only times I’ve had an open bar in the UK was when friends got married in a barn and went a bit crazy in Makro – but again that was just wine and beer – if anyone wanted any other drinks (vodka, whisky etc) it was suggested they bring their own.

    Member
    4865 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: April 2012

    @chronicwhimsy:  Per bottle or per person corkage is normal and I’ve seen up to £35 per bottle corkage on fizz! 

    Member
    456 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: November 2012

    I’ve been thinking about this since I posted and I realised something. I think one of the things that guests in the US might find tacky about a cash bar is that there is a LOT more invested from them financially

    US Wedding guests (OFTEN) have to pay for:

    - Their own outfit (if they are in the bridal party)

    - They have to give gifts from a registry at the Bachorette parties

    - They travel further to attend a wedding, sometimes flying to get there, thus having to pay for accommodation/food/travel

    - If they travel from afar they have to book more time off work etc

    - They give bigger wedding gifts

    - Have to attend a rehersal dinner (another outfit to find)

    As a UK bride, I’ve paid for ALL the bridal parties outfits, I didn’t get gifts at my hen party, all the guest bar 3 live within an hour drive from the venue so they can go home after the wedding (eleminating hotel and travel costs) We don’t have rehearsal dinners and we don’t have registries.

    I’m generalising here, as I know that’s not always the case in the States or the UK or indeed the rest of the world, but my point is since guests in the US pay for so much to attend the wedding, I guess they probably do feel a bit peeved if they then have to buy their own drinks after all that outlay.

    Member
    456 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: November 2012

    chronicwhimsy  the corkage at our venue is £9 a head not per bottle. It still worked out A LOT cheaper than if we were paying for alcohol direct from a vendor.

    We did a trip to France to get our booze and it costs us £700 including travel (free with the offer) and enough champers and wine to fill your boots!

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