(Closed) bar options, need advice!

posted 11 years ago in Food
Post # 3
3525 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

How long is your reception?
Are your family & friends more wine, beer or liquor drinkers?
Why close during dinner? Most people would want drinks during their dinner.
3 Hours total or 3 hours after dinner?
Maybe serve alcohol during dinner and have the cash bar during 2nd to last hour then bar closes the last hour. Let guests get alcohol out  of their system prior to end of party.

I don’t know how much of a variety you are planning on serving. But I would recommend 2-3 varieties of each – liquor, beer and wine. Rather than leaving one type out because some people only drink wine, some only drink beer and some only drink liquor. But do what’s best for you & Fiance and your guests. And of course what’s in budget. Good Luck!

Post # 4
606 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

I wouldn’t suggest cash bar… a lot of people see that as not so tasteful.

I like option B the best, but some might want wine with dinner. I am doing wine, beer and champagne only all night. It is actually the same cost at my venue as having a full open bar but some of my family is kinda sensitive to alcohol so I’m keeping it low key for them, but still beer, wine, champagne for those who enjoy it.

I might offer a couple of signature cocktails. So maybe that could be something you can consider. I think guests may be confused if the bar is different during this and that.

Good luck! 


Post # 5
14181 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

I wouldn’t offer cocktails, then switch away to beer and wine. Not everyone likes to switch their drinks up that much.

I would definitely offer an open bar as much as you can. Most people snag a drink before dinner, anyways, and don’t get up to refill until it’s over. 

If money’s an issue, just offer beer and wine. Instead of closing your bar during dinner, close your bar an hour early for the last hour of your reception…no guest should be topping off before they walk out the door anyways

Post # 6
1205 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2009

I think it’s acceptable to not offer a liquor choice, depending on your guests. Another way around this will be to have a signature cocktail and just serve that, although that doesn’t fit into your choices. I know my guests will be fine with beer & wine only. I like choice B, but you could also just close the bar and offer coffee/ soda for the last hour, especially if people are going to be driving home or to hotels.

If you have these established choices, can you get feedback from the venue/ bartender to see how each choice affects the party? That may be another good resource. 

Post # 7
385 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

Personally, I would feel "teased" to have liquor available at one point and not another. I think your guests might get confused about what they can have and when they can have during your current plan. I’d recommend sticking with beer and wine (if you’re trying to save money) and not closing during dinner.

On the subject of a cash bar, I say go for it, especially if you’ll have an open bar earlier in the night. We’re going to plan for enough liquor for people to have 2-3 drinks and when that runs out, we’ll shift to a cash bar.

I still can’t figure out why people say a cash bar is distasteful. I’ve never gone to a party where I expected the hosts to get me drunk and I’ve never been offended by having to pay for my own drinks at a wedding. So I would say don’t worry about having a portion of your night be cash (if your guests don’t like it, you’ll be having too much fun to care)

Post # 8
813 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2020

Have you considered asking your venue about open bar with beer & wine only? Although it is sometimes daunting to pay for your alcohol up front, per person (when you know your Aunt Martha isn’t going to have more than one sip!), it is usually a LOT more cost effective than paying for drinks by consumption or by hour. It might be worth it to check with your venue and see if they would do open bar for beer & wine only. It might be cheaper than you think, so that you could offer it throughout the reception.

Also, another compromise is that during your cocktail hour, you might serve only beer, wine and maybe two or three signature drinks. This would help assure your venue that you wouldn’t be going overboard with the alcohol if they allow you to do open bar! And maybe you could save that money from a full open bar with all liquor during the cocktail hour to allow you to offer open bar the rest of the night. 

Post # 9
398 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2009

I would stick to beer and wine or beer, wine & signature cocktail (if you are worried about prices).  A lot of people stick to one type of drink so I wouldn’t "take" a beverage away.

If you are concerned about price but still want to offer the open bar, I would consider the following.

  1. Open for Cocktail hour.
  2. Closed Until Dinner is served –Usually this is when the grand entrance is, toasts, first dance, etc.  They will likely be nursing drinks from cocktail hour and the toast.
  3. Open for dinner until about 1 hour prior to end of reception — This will give guest time to detox, with coffee, tea, water, etc.  This is particularly important if there is a drive to their hotels and no shuttle is being provided, etc.

Good Luck!

Post # 10
1882 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

Can you do an open bar all night with just  beer and wine and maybe offer a signature drink during cocktail hour?

Post # 11
2695 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2008

I agree, I wouldn’t switch from liquor to beer & wine only.  Guests will be confused. I  would pick whatever you can afford and offer that the whole time, if possible, with no cash bar (unless of course you think your guests will be prepared for and expect a cash bar).  If I were at a wedding I wouldn’t realize that I needed to pay the last hour, and might not even have cash on me to do so.

Post # 13
95 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2008

If you close down the bar for the last hour of your reception, be prepared for guest to head out early in search of a new bar. But if you keep the bar open and change to a cash bar the last hour, chances are your guests will be in high spirits and won’t mind paying for a few extra drinks after you treated them all night long. Just make sure that you mention the last hour will be cash only so that guests know to bring extra money. I always forget! Also, think about cutting back on say, favors, if you really want to extend the bar all night long. A favor might run you $5 per person when you could cut that out and perhaps extend the bar for an extra hour. Just an idea!

Post # 14
14 posts
  • Wedding: May 2009

I wouild stay consistant. go with the beer and wine the whole time. Maybe you could also have one drink like a signature cocktail?

Post # 15
3525 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

We are personally opting to close the last hour of the party. I want to give our guests time to put some water & Coffee into their system before driving.

Post # 16
681 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2009

i think you should minimize any switches. switching from liquor available to beer and wine only, and open bar to cash bar might confuse some folks. id either offer just beer and wine all night or add a signature cocktail just for cocktail hour (i dont think that would surprise many and has become pretty common). if you need to shave 2 hours off of bar service, close an hour for dinner, and an hour before the reception is over. people have to sober up for the drive home anyway 🙂

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