(Closed) DRINKS during reception

posted 11 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
538 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

If you are trying to control costs, you could do an open bar with just beer and wine, or most places allow you to give a set limit on price. We are considering this option.

Post # 4
2640 posts
Sugar bee

I would prefer to have an open bar and just cut down costs by being creative, like Newport said.  Also, I think you can cut down by having signature drinks.  

I do think if you are concerend about the volume of consumption, you might be on to something.  Maybe someone else can chime in on whether or not it’s worked for them.  I would kind of wonder, if someone is that determined to get drunk, perhpas they’d be willing to shell out the money to do it…

Post # 5
310 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2008

Personally I am not a fan of drink tickets, but I am also a fan of keeping things under budget so I know that the open bar can be a concern.

There are lots of options – you can combine any of the following for budget and guest-friendly drink options:

(1) Open bar cocktail hour

(2) Wine served at the tables during dinner (this works better than putting the bottles on the tables)

(3) Limited open bar (only beer and wine, or only a speciality cocktail)

(4) Time-limited or Cash-limited open bar (serve drinks until the dance portion of the evening begins, or set a cap on how much you want to spend and have the bartender contact you when you reach this level and this will allow you to continue on – if you’re close to the end – or turn the bar into cash)


Drinks at our wedding were $8.00/$8.50/$9.00 for beer/wine/liquor and wine was $50/bottle so we were definitly in the situation where it could easily get out of control. We opted for a full open bar during the 1.5 hr cocktail reception and then unlimited wine served at the table during dinner. Everyone seemed to drink lots during the cocktail hour and dinner and no one complained they had to purchase drinks later in the night.

Do what works for you….. budget-wise and party-wise! Good luck!

Post # 6
271 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I’m afraid of the cost issue with having drinks at the reception. We are having a cocktail hour where self served alcohol will be served but his side of the family and my friends can drink and I have seen them on many occasions take advantage of an open bar- and yes, even at someones wedding.

I don’t drink so I’m not having drinks at all during the reception- I put this on our website so the guests know in advance, plus I asked both sides of the drinkers (his fam and my friends) and they both said it was no big deal at all.

Post # 7
1078 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2009

My parents believe that guests shouldn’t handle any money (or tickets) during a reception. A wedding should be treated as if you were hosting any other party. And you know if you had people over at your house, you wouldn’t charge them per drink, or limit them to a certain amount.

So I think their theory is extremely logical.

I would go with one of the following:

* Full Open Bar for the full reception

* Limited Open Bar for the full reception – beer and wine are the only options, and are free of charge.

* No alcohol



Post # 8
192 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: October 2008

You can do an open bar for a set amount of time. I have had friends to an open bar for the first hour of the reception only that not only cuts cost down it controls how many beverages they consume through out the whole night. I only had a couple drinks during the first hour then I maybe had one more drink that I payed for.

At our wedding we did not have an open bar but everyone we know just brough flasks full of their choice of alcohol and got pretty drunk if not more then they would have.

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

I would consider a different option than drink tickets, as guest handling tickets and potentially losing them is no good.

Consider a limited bar or specialty drinks.  Or only serve drinks part of the time.  For instance: Open bar for 1 hour at cocktail hour, no drinks until after dinner, bar and wine after dinner.  There are many ways to cut down on consumption.

Good Luck!

Post # 10
203 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2019

I haven’t been to a wedding that wasn’t open bar but I have been to a rehearsal dinner with tickets. Once the tickets were gone we all kept buying drinks. So, if you think it will deter people I’d be doubtful. I do know it caused some grumbling amongst guests, esp. the wedding party, because it was a multi hour event and they each got two tickets. I’d say the best way to go if you want to control costs is either a set cap on the bar or a limited open bar that you could shut down during the dinner hour and serve wine to prolong it. I personally feel if you invite your guests to a party you shouldn’t ask them to pay for drinks if it can be avoided since you wouldn’t charge people in your home. granted budgets can be restrictive and I don’t advocate blowing yours to serve drinks but I think there are mnay creative options out there. I also think most guests take their cues from the bride and groom re: drinking. If they are partyers the receptions tends to be more of one and vice versa. GL

Post # 11
752 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

My fiance and I are doing beer and wine with signature cocktails to save costs, but I’ve never heard of drink tickets. It’s kind of an amusing idea! I can just see my crazy, 70 year old aunt who doesn’t drink selling her tickets to young guys for a pinch on the bum or something!

Post # 12
2695 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2008

If drink tickets are common in your neck of the woods, then go for it!

I have never been to a wedding personally with tickets, and would honestly be kind of turned off I was.  In My Humble Opinion, there are probably better ways to control costs – beer & wine only, or some sort of limited bar could probably accomplish the same goals.  I think people understand that everyone has a budget, but at the same time, its great to find ways to have your guests be your guests (ie not tickets or cash bar) if there is another way around it….

Post # 13
469 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2008

I fully agree with Miss Pinot – you wouldn’t charge people at your house, so why do it at your wedding?  That being said, the easiest way to have your cake and eat it too would be to have a full bar during cocktail hour, close the bar during dinner and have only wine service, and then re-open the bar for the rest of the reception but have a limited selection – beer, wine, and maybe a sig. cocktail.  That should keep costs way down (as much as you can with a bar, as opposed to no alcohol), keep guests happy, and ensure no one drinks more than they should.

Post # 14
83 posts
Worker bee

The venue we’ll be at offers bar packages where we can specify what types of drinks are offered during the "open bar" time. If we asked them to, they can also cut people off after a certain amount of time.

For example, if Uncle Ted has been downing whiskey all evening, they can say no more whiskey for you, have a soda. Maybe later Uncle Ted comes back and says "I want expensive cognac" the bartender could say "here, have some vodka instead".

Another nice option they’re willing to do is that they are willing to keep a tab for us of how many drinks each person had and say "OK. the tab is now are $1,200. Plus tax it’s $xxx amount so we won’t serve anymore alcohol" or "OK, the tab is $700 and it’s before dinner. We’ll take a break and serve the remaining $700 worth of alcohol after dinner"

Post # 16
156 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

Just wondering what kind of budgets y’all are working with?

If you can afford an open bar all night, that’s great.  However, I have been to many weddings which only provide a very limited drink time followed by a cash bar.

While I agree that wedding guests shouldn’t be expected to incur large costs while attending your wedding, I also don’t really think that a wedding should be a place where the bride and grrom are responsible for providing alcohol all night long for 200+ people!

People should be there to celebrate the start of our new life and the joining of two families, not to get free drinks!

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