Post # 1
Tossing around ways to afford a bar but serve my guests nicely… Talking to a friend and it seems like drink tickets might be the way to go. That way all guests get the same amount of free drinks, but can purchase whatever they want.
My dad (who is paying for the bar) has a budget limit so I can’t have a totally open bar. Not an option. He wants to put x-amount of money into the bar and then when it runs out it will go from open to cash. I think this is a bad idea as guests who are waiting to have drinks won’t get any because all the early guzzlers will have had all the drinks. And he also refuses to let us have an open bar because he doesn’t want to be liable for someone’s DUI.
On top of bar drinks, all guests will also get a champagne toast.
What do you think? What are the logistics of drink tickets? Would you think it was weird if you were a guest? Any better suggestions if necessary?
Post # 3
Prepare to be judged… People on the Bee are very critical of that sort of thing, but I don’t see a problem with it. It wouldn’t bother me to go to a wedding like that, but I don’t believe people should have to bankrupt themselves just to have a wedding with other people there. I am not a heavy drinker so I think I would rather have the drink tickets and go at my own pace, rather than have to worry about the bar switching over to cash before I’m ready to have another drink.
You also might get more bang for your buck if you only serve beer and wine and maybe one kind of cocktail instead of having a full bar. If you can save money that way you might be able to get more drink tickets…?
Post # 4
The acceptability of this depends on your geographic location and social circle, I think.
In my circle of friends, this would be weird, verging on a faux pas. Everybody I know has had an open bar at his or her wedding. That said, I don’t think anyone would bat an eye if only wine and beer were served, so long as it was unlimited (this option is much cheaper than an open bar – have you considered it?). But drink tickets would raise eyebrows. It’s something I associate with a nightclub or some kind of organized semi-professional/academic event.
That said, I have gathered from these boards that the etiquette of alcohol is deeply regional. Several folks from the UK have said that cash bars are the norm there. Americans from different circles/regions have said the same and/or said that they’ve been to weddings which offered drink tickets to guests. I’ve seen Canadian Bees saying the same – and others saying no, open bar is standard.
In short, nobody agrees. So, I’d say the best predictor of your guests’ reactions is the nature and expectation of your social circle. Have any of your friends gotten married? If so, did any of them have drink tickets or a cash bar? If not, brace yourself for some muttering.
Post # 5
@nawella: Where are you getting married? Many places require liability insurance for alcohol consumption. Just something to keep in mind.
It sounds like you are concerned about both budget and amount of alcohol that people consume. Here is what I suggest: pick a signature drink or two (one you like, one your fiance likes). Then offer beer and wine. Have the bar open a bit later than you’d planned, and have it close about half an hour before the end of the night. For the signature drink, ask the bartender to pour them a little weak — but make sure they’re delicious.
How many people are you expecting? Are you doing a service or are you doing this yourself?
Post # 6
I think the $ limit is the best way to go. Or just have it open for a set amount of time. Alternatively, you could have a limited bar say beer and wine only but have it all night.
Post # 7
We considered doing drink tickets for everyone, but instead my parents put up x amount of dollars toward the bar for only canned beer and pop. When that ran out (three hours later) we gave our bridal party 5 tickets each to purchase whatever they wanted. However, in our area, it’s very common to do a cash bar only or a cash bar with a free keg. It worked out splendidly for us.
Post # 8
Be prepared, you’re going to get some nasty replies to this. I think drink tickets are a great compromise, you could use poker chips or print nice tickets (please don’t use dollar store beer tickets) and place how ever many at each persons plate.
Post # 9
@nawella: I think it’s fine and a good way to handle a limited budget. It”s equitable to your guests, it provides them with refreshments, and it’s a simple system that everyone will be familiar with. Demanding an unlimited open bar and calling anything short of it rude is beyond entitled.
Post # 10
P.S. I forgot to add that once the money my parents put toward the bar, it became a full cash bar with the other options being also being available while we were giving away cans of beer and pop.
Post # 11
@jdhall89: Not everyone is familiar with drink tickets, and it’s not entitled to expect your host to provide drinks for his/her guests. It’s actually normal to expect that in many places.
Post # 12
@peachacid: OP is providing drinks for her guests, just not unlimited drinks.
Post # 13
I’ve been to a wedding that did this–and it didn’t go over well. A LOT of guests complained. Many left the wedding early (as soon as all the major wedding events were over), and didn’t buy themselves any drinks. Cash bars are usually the #1 complaint guests have. You wouldn’t charge people for drinks at a dinner party you were hosting–so people don’t react well when you do it at a wedding.
What about doing a wine/beer bar? You could always buy the wine at BevMo’s $.05 wine sale–which will cut the cost of the wine in HALF. That way you offer drinks and no one is bothered by the cash bar option, but you still don’t break the bank. Plus–no one gets plastered and acts inappropriately (which can happen if hard liquor is served).
Post # 14
Why not just host what you can afford? Just do open beer/wine and not serve liquor. I am not going to use the “t” word, but I am not a fan of cash bars OR tokens/tickets/etc. I am a big fan of hosting what you can afford and leaving it at that.
Post # 15
I think drink tickets are a good compromise for reasons you and PP mention, mostly that it means each guest can have some, rather than the guzzlers getting it all.
Some argue that an open bar all night is expected because when hosting, you don’t ask your guests to pay for their refreshments. As long as you have unlimited non-alcoholic drinks and some way to offer some reasonable amount of alcohol I think you’re fine (clearly other posters feel very differently, and it does seem to vary by location and social group.)
While it’s true that I don’t expect guests in my home to bring their alcohol, I also don’t offer unlimited alcohol whenever I host a dinner. I’m responsible if they drive drunk. I’ll have all the non-alcoholic drinks they want in whatever quantity they want – sodas, sparkling water, coffee, tea etc. I’ll have something alcoholic available for cocktails (but not in an unlimited quantity) I’ll have a glass or two of wine with dinner, and perhaps one after dinner drink – depending upon how late the night is expected to go and if there is a designated driver. If they start seeming tipsy, I stop serving.
Similarly, I have some extra entree and offer seconds, but I don’t keep offering unlimited servings of the entree if a guest says, “hey this is great – can I have more.”
So, in my view, you should provide adequate food and alcohol, but that does not mean unlimited amounts of either. I don’t think it matters if you choose to limit it for financial reasons, or for your concern over liability over those who cannot stop when they should.
Post # 16
@fascinated: I wonder who will be serving the drinks…OP, where are you?