(Closed) Alcohol at wedding reception

posted 9 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
47 posts
  • Wedding: May 2014

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.

Post # 4
115 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

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!

Post # 5
5421 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: November 2012

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.

Post # 6
3567 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

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.

Post # 7
368 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

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?

Post # 8
3360 posts
Sugar bee

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.


Post # 9
10449 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 2014

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. 

Post # 10
11 posts
  • Wedding: September 2013

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!

Post # 11
10354 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2010

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!

Post # 12
7898 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2012 - Pelican Grand Beach Resort

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.

Post # 13
2386 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

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.

Post # 14
4687 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2013 - Upstate NY

These are all good suggestions! What about just beer and wine?? And shortening the reception perhaps?

Post # 15
368 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

Beer and wine and one signature drink?

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