(Closed) Any brides had to buy all the alcohol for reception? Not an open bar.

posted 5 years ago in Reception
Post # 46
4550 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

We had to supply our own alcohol (which we liked) – we did beer (kegs), red & white wine, and had two signature cocktails. We also served champagne for the toast, and had non-alcoholic drinks like soda and iced tea at the bar. We put a bottle of water at each seat and had extra at the bar. This was for 116 guests.

It really wasn’t that much (maybe $2000=$2500). I can’t remember how much we bought, but we had so much left over! (We used some unopened bottles for our next few parties and gave others away).

We paid the bartender a flat fee. No tip jar.

Our venue was permitted to serve liquor, but not sell it, so even if we wanted to (we didn’t), we couldn’t charge for drinks.


Post # 47
192 posts
Blushing bee

A cash bar sucks as a guest. That said, I’d make due. 

However, if I was obviously somewhere that I knew the B&G bought the booze and then charge me for it, I would leave. Honestly, you could charge $1 a drink and make your money back but I’m sure you plan to charge more than that. 

Post # 48
2098 posts
Buzzing bee

I’m confused … you’re going to buy the alcohol and sell drinks to your guests? That would be illegal. You could put a jar instead that asks for donations for drinks to help fund the bar. A lot of people wouldn’t do that either but I get that money is probably tight.

Post # 49
15 posts

Aside from the other comments, if you plan to use what you charge for drinks to add on to the tips your guests give the bartenders….that means knowing how much your bartender was tipped by the end of the night.

How’re you planning to figure that out? It will probably be difficult and awkward to take his tip money away from him, to count it, all in the name of deciding how much you will personally tip him. 

No matter what path you decide to take, I think you need to decide how much you want to tip the bartender without considering how much the guests gave him. When I tip at a wedding or other hosted events, I do so thinking my tip is in addition to what the host is giving him. That means I’m tipping far less than I would if I was out at a bar or restaurant.

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Post # 50
203 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2016

If you are having to use the money for your honeymoon to pay for the bar, maybe you should consider not having a bar at all. As a guest I would rather have just soda than pay for a drink AND tip you to pay for your honeymoon. If you can’t afrord it don’t do it – although I think you should habe budgeted differently if it was important to have a bar, at this point I think you need to nix the alcohol and not even consider making your guests pay for something you should be paying for.

Post # 54
3682 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

bmaus1493:  I don’t think you understand what the other posters were trying to tell you. If you buy the alcohol for the reception for let’s say $200 and the bar makes $1000 at the wedding, you’ve made an $800 profit off of your guests. That’s incredibly rude — your guests have no responsibility to cover the tips for your vendors. You need to factor that into your current budget, not rip off your guests to fund your wedding and honeymoon. They are your guests, you are supposed to be hosting them (meaning spending your own money, not scalping them for drinks).

I’ve also been to several weddings in central Illinois that had open bars. Maybe it’s not common in your family, but don’t write off your rudeness as some sort of regional etiquette when that’s not the case.

Most importantly, your venue is either lying to you or clueless. Straight from the mouth of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission:

Q: Can I sell alcoholic liquor at my family gathering, wedding, or company picnic?<br />A: No, a liquor license is ALWAYS required when selling alcoholic beverages. Please note, a private function is an event where attendance is by invitation only, the host controls access to the premises, and alcoholic beverages are provided to invited guests at NO CHARGE. In other words, a wedding would qualify under this exception as long as the liquor being served is not sold to the wedding guests. https://www.illinois.gov/ilcc/about/Pages/FAQs-legal.aspx


Post # 57
2389 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

bmaus1493:  Dude. Your guests should not be tipping your bartender. Period. That’s YOUR responsibility. Also, don’t give Illinois a bad name. Just because you are choosing to be as horribly rude as other people in your area doesn’t make it ok. I’ve never heard of such a thing and I live in Illinois too. I’m actually embarrassed for you just reading this, and if you tried to charge me for alcohol you bought for your own wedding, my husband and I would just leave. 

Post # 59
2454 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

bmaus1493: A lot of people have a variety of opinions on cash bars, so if it were simply that, I’d just go with your gut.  I’m midwest as well, and weddings seem to be about half cash bars and half open bars these days, so paying for a drink wouldn’t phase me.

Like others have said though (and now that you recognize that it’s a problem), it’s probably illegal for you to sell alcohol.  Give away would be fine.  Selling through a bartender or caterer who would keep the money would be fine.  But you yourself cannot accept money for it.  Definitely clarify this with the venue.

As for the alcohol purchase itself…  I agree that it doesn’t make sense to buy wine if your family doesn’t drink wine.  The kegs should be enough beer.  For the liquor, find out roughly how many drinks you can make with each bottle of liquor, and make an estimate on how many drinks you think your guests will drink over the coruse of the night.  They have calculators for this online, of all kinds.  Buy what’s most popular for your group.  In know that in my case, we’re a bunch of rum drinkers, so I would need way more rum than anything else.  Careful about overbuying with the intention to return unopened bottles- it may also be illegal in Illinois.  (Laws for this vary by state.)  On the plus side, if you have leftover, alcohol keeps for a really long time, and you can always gift unopened bottles.

Post # 60
2564 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

We provided alcohol at our venue.  It was purchased from a whole sale liquor store and any unopened and unchilled bottles could be returned.  It was not an option to charge our guests and we wouldn’t have done it anyway.

I personally find a cash bar to be a no go, but it is really inappropriate to purcahse the alcohol and then turn around and sell it to your guests.  You are also responsible for compensating the bartender fairly and your guests are not there to cover the tip.  If you still can’t afford the liquor costs with buying wholesale, stick to beer and wine.

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