Post # 1
Hola Bees! For a number of reasons we are not able to provide a full evening of an open bar for our wedding 🙁 We are doing a one hour hosted cocktail reception (full bar), plus an additional hour (maybe two) hosted bar during the reception plus a champagne toast. I realize it’s not ideal, but that’s what we have to work with.
My question is – how do I let people know that we are only having a limited open bar and that it will turn to a cash bar after? Also – how should I arrange my hours of open bar? The cocktail recpetion is obviously going to happen immediately following the ceremony, but when should I stick in the second hour? During dinner? After dinner?
Thanks for your help! I’m feeling pretty bummed about the limited open bar situation and i’m really hoping someone has some clever suggestions on how to make it work 🙂
Post # 3
i think a lot of people close the bar during dinner. and dont be bummed-three hours is PLENTY! most drinking is done in the beginning. another option if you really want to offer drinks the whole time is to switch from a per person charge to consumption for an hour-if your venue and budget allow for that! also a lot of the reception sites i visited said to cut the champagne toast since most people dont drink it anyway and just have everyone toast with their cocktails…good luck!
Post # 4
I have read about the option to do open bar only for the cocktail hour and then switch to just wine & beer for dinner & beyond, OR you could just do wine, beer & champagne and have a signature cocktail option. Depending on your venue and how they charge, this might allow you to have a limited open bar for the whole time.
Post # 5
our venue let us have a hosted bar not so much with a time limit, but with a dollar limit so that once our dollar limit was reached, it converted to a cash bar. We were told that they would let us know when we were close to the limit and then we could decide if we wanted to spend more or just goto cash. We figured if it was close to the end of the nite, we’d just pay for the rest of the night, but if it was the beginning of the night, we would let it convert to cash. We were ok with this, because we knew some people would drink alot but the majority of them would not drink at all. As suggested above, we also didn’t provide champagne and everyone just toasted with whatever drink they had (and we had 3-4 rounds of toasts!). It worked out great….we got to just under our limit by the time the night ended and we ended up getting a refund from the venue this week too! =)
Post # 6
Are you having a wine service with dinner? I would say close the bar during dinner and then use the remaining open bar hours once dinner is over. If you’re doing a wedding web site, you can put information on there about it turning to a cash bar later in the evening. I know there are some posts floating around about good ways to word this. Also, word of mouth re: the cash bar portion of the evening is helpful. I know personally I rarely carry cash so these are helpful bits of info to have ahead of time.
Post # 7
Thanks so much everyone! Good advice all around. I think I will close the bar during dinner and provide a few bottles of wine/table and then open it back up after dinner. And my wedding website is the perfect place to spread the word! Thanks again everyone!!
Post # 8
At a wedding I went to this summer, they had a framed picture on the bar that said what was hosted and the prices of non-hosted drinks. It was very clear and I appreciated knowing. Mabye you could note it on something like that?
Post # 9
I went to a wedding with a similar open bar set-up. The couple had their friends spread the word during cocktail hour, and it caught on quick. Maybe you could instruct your wedding party to give guests the heads up.
Post # 10
I was just going to say don’t say anything at all because it really doesn’t matter and you don’t want people binge-drinking during the first hour b/c they know drinks will cost money later on, they will end up getting sick. But then I remembered a rehearsal dinner I went to that wasn’t open bar and there was a sign up with an explanation of what was included (wine and beer) and I think maybe the cost of other cocktails. I appreciated the sign and it minimized an awkward conversation with the bartender.
Since you are doing something more complicated – open bar for only the first hour and an additional hour later, I personally woudn’t say anything to the guests and ask the bartenders to put up a sign once the ‘cutoff’ period is reached. People will get it.
Post # 11
I recently went to a wedding that switched to cash bar after dinner; let me please caution you to be careful about this. Even with the economy being as it is, there are ways to go about reducing your bar costs without making your guests pay for their cocktails (after all, you are hosting a party for your guests- would you ever make them pay for their own drinks if you had them all over for a dinner party?). There were some great suggestions about perhaps just reducing the bar after dinner to beer and wine. I think that even if you “spread the word” about your bar switching to cash at some point in the evening, it still comes across to your guests as cheap (plus, you will never be able to let everyone know). Either host the whole time, or have your cocktails be listed as cash bar the entire time, or switch to just beer and wine served after dinner, but do not all of a sudden switch your entire bar to cash at some point in the evening. It sends a weird message to your guests.
Post # 11
turtlie: Thanks for you advice! Do you mind me asking what your limit was, how many people you had and how many hours?