Tabs and cash bars – help please.

posted 3 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
Member
6021 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

It is probably going to be less confusing if you cut over to a cash bar at a pre-set time, for example after dinner.  It is much easier to explain to guests that it is cash bar after 8pm or whatever, than “after the tab runs out, it’s cash bar.”  You may have a few folks who double up at 7:55pm but most people would rather pay for a cold beer than drink a free warm beer.  This gives your guests some advance warning if you put a sign out from the start of the reception, and makes it very easy to understand without calling to their attention the fact that you’re not considering hosting their tabs for the entire event.

Post # 4
Member
11772 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2013

@FutureMrsHallam:  Does that even count as a cash bar? It sounds pretty generous to me!

I would stick a sign up that says:

Your options tonight are:

List of alcohols

Other drinks at your cost

Then I would have the bartender keep an eye on the tab, and pick a natural time to stop serving free booze–like after dinner, or after an hour of dancing. Then when people come up to the bar, he can politely inform them that the bar has closed, unless they would like to pay for their own drinks!

Post # 7
Member
6021 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

@FutureMrsHallam:  Then plan to cut it early, and if you still have room left, circulate an additional champagne toast or have the bartender make a round of shots/shooters (if your social circle won’t find those out of place) and have the waiters pass them out.

Post # 9
Member
5421 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2014

@FutureMrsHallam:  We’re in a similar situation; we would love a fully open bar but would need to budget around £10k for alcohol if we did this, so, we are providing welcome drinks and drinks with the meal, ad then putting £2.5k behind the bar for the evening reception, which can be spent on 3 different brands of each type of spirit, one type of red, white and rose wine by the glass, soft drinks, and beer/lager. We will be making laminated menu cards showing what is ‘included’; the wording will probably read along the lines of ‘We have a limited bar tab, which can be spent on the following drinks’. 

Post # 10
Member
666 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

In our ceremony programs in the section about the cocktail hour, I put a blurb in about the bride and groom hosting house wine, house beer, and soda.  For display on the bar I had a sign printed up that noted the specifics on what wines and beers were on offer hosted by the bride and groom, and it also specified that mixed drinks, premium liquors, etc, were available to purchase.

We did not switch to cash bar, so not sure how to address that.  I agree that having a run-out point may be a little confusing to guests, but I know it is done.  A coworker of mine’s brother did that.  I think the bar just announced that it was switching to cash when the specified money ran out.  At that time, the groom’s father stepped in and offered to pay so they went back to open bar for the rest of the night.

I would recommend stopping bar service about 30-45 minutes before the official end of the wedding, just so people aren’t grabbing a last drink or three and then trying to drive home or whatever. 

Post # 11
Member
11772 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2013

@FutureMrsHallam:  I would circulate it by mouth that the bar won’t be open the whole night. Then people can decide if they want to bring cash for extra drinks!

Post # 13
Member
1248 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

It’s pretty standard at Australian weddings that only selected beer, wine and softdrinks are provided by the hosts and everyone just assumes that spirits are on you as the guest if you want to have them (unless it’s an Italian wedding or something? I know they do provide spirits at them). So I would just put on an insert that Beer, wine and soft drink will be provided until eg. 9pm/until the tab is exhausted with drinks available for purchase after this time.  And then the venue will surely have a menu for the guests with the drinks they can have off the tab?

I’ve never been to a wedding where there was a cash bar (this is not a judgement on you) so I’ve never actually seen the above in action but I’ve been to plenty of 21sts/engagement parties etc. where they had tabs and it worked without a hassle.

 

Post # 14
Member
117 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

@FutureMrsHallam:  I had a friend in a simular situation to yours, and she had the same concerns that she didn’t know how long her tab would last and was concerned she didn’t know how much people would drink and how much a tab would last …. here is what we came up for her and it worked PERFECTLY!

 

She left the bar as a cash bar all night, but instead used her budget to provide the following:

 

During cocktail hour the waiters walked around with champagne with various garnish (strawberries, raspberry, blackberry, peach etc) and passed them out, so people could buy a cocktail or drink champagnge

 

During dinner, she put bottles of wine on each table, one red, one white, this was more than enough for most tables but she had some extras so if a table ran out or preferred one over the other the waitstaff replaced or brought a refill for dinner only

 

After the dinner was served she opened a special station for two signature cocktails, it was basically a little margarita bar and there were three different kinds to choose from, this was open until the alloted tequila ran out (you could subsititute any cocktail here)

 

I gotta tell you – I didn’t buy a drink from the bar all night, and a lot of others didnt either – she stretched her budget, and everyone loved it!  If people want to indulge they’ll be happy with whatever you offer …. i felt like this was the best way to stretch her budget, because sometimes when people find out the cash bar is going to end at a specific time they double and triple fist which eats your budget so quick!  this really avoided that!

Post # 16
Member
117 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

@FutureMrsHallam:  one last thing – i wouldn’t make a note on your invitation about the bar, but you could put that information on the website or have family and bridal party spread the word

 

honestly, i feel like cash bars are becoming fairly common, in my area they are and you said in yours as well, so i think most people come prepared to pay just in case

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