(Closed) Cash Bar/Open Bar

posted 13 years ago in Food
Post # 32
Member
2292 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

Oddly enough, the open bar is one of the things my mom felt REALLY strongly about.  I say oddly, because she doesn’t drink much if at all – and she tends to seriously frown on over-indulging.  However she insisted right up front on an open bar.  Luckily if we have guests who can’t be counted on to be reasonable in their consumption I don’t know who they are.  Not that we don’t put away a significant amount of wine on occasion, but we tend to save that for evenings at home with a few friends.  Not a lot of public drunks in our crowd.  Nevertheless my mother seems to have bought (or my cousins have donated, or half and half) six cases of really nice cab and syrah, and another three of chardonnay.  On top of the beer, mixed drinks, and champagne we will have available – and this is for 120 people!  I anticipate having to expand my wine cellar very soon.

Post # 34
Member
383 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

as a guest and a hostess, i hate cash bar – i like the analogy a previous poster chimed in on in that it is like inviting people to your home and asking them to pony up…

but do what you feel is best for your situation.

we’re having open bar starting at 6pm – but cutting people off the alcohol at 1030pm (we have the place til midnight) with everything else non-alcoholic til closing…

 

Post # 35
Member
375 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2021

You should do what is best for you while extending every courtesy possible to guests. Perhaps you could consider a limited open bar with beer (should be relatively inexpensive in kegs), wine and soft drinks? Whatever you do, I am sure that the guests are more likely to remember your love for one another than the drinks you served:)

Post # 36
Member
471 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

We will be doing an open bar for the cocktail period (1.5 hours) and then a limited bar for the rest of the event.

We will be bringing our own alcohol via BevMo (and they will deliver, yay!). We can return all unopened products post-wedding. Our caterers do not charge a corkage fee. 

Post # 37
Member
416 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2008 - Imperia Hotel (modern chic hotel)

This is a huge debate…. lol. But on my part since my venue is at a hotel… and because I am italian and thats what italians do, I am having the whole shebang.

Cocktails.
Champagne.
Unlimited wine during the supper
Open bar (4 hours)

I think lots of people are gonna stay over for the night.
I would do what you think is best. I personally don’t mind cash bars, I was opting for that until my dad gave me the whole speach.

Best of luck to you

Miss Flamingo! 

 

Post # 38
Member
2292 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

Well, its funny, isn’t it.  Because on the one hand, the etiquette books talk about how having a cash bar would be like charging for drinks in your own home. But on the other hand, none of our friends would show up for a party at our house without bringing a bottle or two of something nice.

Post # 39
Member
62 posts
Worker bee

for us an open bar was on the top of the list. i just feel bad about ppl traveling from the corners of the earth to come to my wedding and then not serve them alcohol. whether we decide on a hotel or non-hotel venue, we’ll have…

open bar during 1 hr cocktail hr

wine + champagne at the table

and open bar for 4-7 hrs after dinner

 whether it’s frowned upon…. that’s a tough one. *PERSONALLY* (this is totally me) i would NOT have a cash bar. we can afford it and its important to us and our friends/family.

 however, when i’m at a wedding, i don’t think about it too much. although i think its a big hassle- its not the end of the world. what i do think is a weeeee bit *tacky* is when ppl invite 800+ ppl to their wedding and have barely edible food and a cash bar or no bar at all. and i hope no one gets offended but i’ve been to weddings where you wonder if they’re making money on the wedding! (the weddings i’ve been to that are like this were korean so ppl generally bring money). but that’s totally my opinion : ) 

Post # 40
Member
17 posts
Newbee

LegallyEngaged, what’s the norm for the weddings you’ve been to?  Is an open bar expected?

I’m honestly not at all offended by cash bars.  It wasn’t until I started planning that I realized cash bars weren’t proper etiquette.  I grew up in Southern CA where most of the weddings I attended had cash bars.  Though I live on the east coast now and all of the weddings I’ve been to around here have had open bars, so maybe it’s a regional (or cultural..I’m Asian) thing? 

We’re having an open bar because it was very high on the boy’s priority list and we moved around the budget a bit to make it work.  But, I agree what others have said, do what you feel comfortable with.  If open bars aren’t the norm where you are from, than I’d go with your gut (even if it’s not considered proper etiquette).  If you decide to offer some free alcohol I really like the idea of having a couple of bottles of wine at the each table or some other ‘limited alcohol’ option…I don’t think you have to have a FULL open bar. 

I realize I may not be in the majority here, but to me, open bars are more of a treat, rather than what was expected.  Like you (or someone else) said, it’s not like you’re asking your guests to bring their own meals. 

Post # 41
Member
9 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: October 2007

I know this is probably really "tacky" to some people but we didnt’ have alcohol at all. It was a pretty small wedding 90-100 and I have quite a few recovering alcoholic family members. Plus, we had a super small budget to work with (approx $6,000 for the entire wedding).  In the end, we had an open espresso bar and it was a HUGE hit! The guests loved it more than having alcohol at a wedding!  We hired the best espresso caterers we could find and it was still super affordable. 

Post # 43
Member
105 posts
Blushing bee

I’m Canadian as well – but saying cash bar is ok in Canada is like saying "all Americans  _______"  , it’s too general. Yes, there must be regions where cash bar is ok, and I know in my region the twoonie bar for the dance (and open bar cocktail hour + wine on tables) is pretty popular, but we’re still doing an open bar – because it’s important to Dear Fiance and I. To us, it just wouldn’t feel right to ask guests to pay for drinks.

When you have a dinner party, you provide the liquor guests bring a bottle of wine. When you have a wedding, you provide the liquor, and guests bring you a gift.  

I think an open bar is important, and I’d cut other aspects to be able to have it. I’d love it if every wedding I attended thought the same, because it is in poor form to ask guests to pay for drinks – but I realize not everyone does see it this way.

Post # 45
Member
2292 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

I agree – there is nothing wrong with serving limited alcohol, or even no alcohol!  The last wedding I attended, the groom was 21 but the bride was just 19, and there was no alcohol served – at least partly because about half the guests were not of legal drinking age.  We had loads of fun.  It’s certainly nice to have a drink with dinner, but if your friends can’t have dinner without a drink or drinks, that’s sort of the definition of a problem, yes?  My sister had a limited open bar (limited service and limited time) because its what they could afford, and they got married 45 minutes away from the town where they live, so most folks had to drive home.  The food was great and the music was great and the company was wonderful, and I didn’t hear anyone complain or see anyone leave early to hit the bars.

Post # 46
Member
139 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2008

LegallyEngaged, I’m Canadian too and I have to say the majority of the weddings that I have been to have been either drink tickets or twoonie bar but there is always free wine on the table. Then again most of the weddings I’ve been to have been in smaller towns/cities and within my own family so I think there might some regional expectations/experiences. I agree with Maple, that it’s sort of a broad generalization.

Personally, I think as long as you offer your guests some sort of beverage, you’re fine. Whether you can afford the open bar/limited bar/only wine or even non-alcoholic, is all up to you and your family.   But if your guests have pay for ALL their beverages all night, that’s when you start crossing the etiquette rules. 

 

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