Experiences with open bars?

posted 2 years ago in Reception
  • poll: What do you think about open bars?
    I attended an open bar wedding and thought it was fabulous : (47 votes)
    40 %
    I hosted an open bar wedding, it was fantastic, and not too expensive/worth the cost : (48 votes)
    41 %
    I hosted an open bar wedding and I regret the spend / the cost was a shock : (2 votes)
    2 %
    I hosted an open bar wedding for a set amount of hours or set a limit and this worked well : (5 votes)
    4 %
    I prefer beverage packages and set menus as a guest : (2 votes)
    2 %
    We had a tab and it was awkward when it ran out and became a cash bar : (0 votes)
    Man I love polls : (14 votes)
    12 %
  • Post # 2
    3023 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: June 2017

    View original reply
    claire345 :  having an open bar was super important to us so we budgeted accordingly. The bar was open from 4pm-1am, but we didn’t have any top shelf liquor in our package (no one seemed to notice or care). We had a small wedding too (65 guests) and it was absolutely worth the cost. With a 30-40 person wedding I would especially recommend it.

    Post # 3
    1172 posts
    Bumble bee

    Honestly we were shocked how “cheap” it was. We were expecting it to be way more expensive than it was, so we made sure enough savings put away for it and in the end we used less than a quarter of what we saved. 

    Post # 4
    5789 posts
    Bee Keeper

    We had an open bar with no limitations. IA with you I wouldn’t like the set package if it may not be to everyone’s taste. Plus you’d have to pay per adult, including any non-drinkers. Not gonna lie, the open bar was one of our two highest costs (food understandably being the other), but we figured as much so there was no sticker shock. 

    But I’m an older Bee, ‘encore bride’ and definitely more financially comfortable than I was when I was younger, so we could afford a no-limitations bar for our guests. I wouldn’t go to someone else’s wedding and expect this, in fact I’d feel badly if they went over-budget to provide for such things. I have no problem with a cash bar, a wine & beer only bar or a dry wedding with Diet Coke. 

    I’d also like to say, that with so many people drinking, you want to make sure no-one drinks and drives. We hired a local service  that is like a taxi service only two drivers show up- one takes the guests home, the second driver follows behind and parks their vehicle in their driveway for them. We also had a sign near the main entrance with phone numbers for this service plus taxi numbers. And many people use Uber these days. If a lot of people are from out of town, perhaps a shuttle to the hotel. 

    Post # 5
    2137 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: August 2014

    We switched from beer/wine only to open bar at the last minute. It was much cheaper than I anticipated surprisingly. We had a very family friendly wedding though, lots of people brought their kids and we ended at 10 pm because of local noise ordinances. It was worth every penny. I don’t drink beer or wine so I hate attending weddings that limit the options. We also had a signature cocktail during cocktail hour. 

    Post # 6
    1918 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: September 2017 - Pearson Convention Centre

    For our wedding we hosted an open bar but during our cocktail hour only our signature drink and non alcoholic drinks were offered. During dinner only wine and beer were offered and throughout the rest of the evening the bar was opened. It worked well for us

    Post # 7
    945 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: December 1969 - City, State

    Our venue offered open bar – per drink or package.  We felt that the package was quite pricey at $50 per person for mostly rail, wine, and beer.  We decided to open it up and let people choose what they wanted to drink.  We had about 100 ppl, and we spent about $3000 at the bar, so definitely cheaper to open it up and pay per drink.  It was open from 5pm until 1am. We had some heavy drinkers, and some moderate.  

    Post # 8
    726 posts
    Busy bee

    It depends if it’s in your budget! I’ve never been to wedding with an open bar, I really don’t think anyone expects it anymore (I would honestly be shocked if I ever saw an open bar!). So don’t push your budget or get in debt over a small thing

    Post # 9
    4786 posts
    Honey bee

    I host open bar regardless of the event I am throwing.  Depending on the crowd, I may arrange to do it as consumption if I know this particular crowd consists of light drinkers vs. set price per person (but either way I am paying the full bill – there is no cut-off).  I never regret making sure my guests do not have to open their wallets and hosting them well.

    I have been to bait and switch events where certain things were hosted at certain times or switched over to cash bar and it was awkward and unpleasant.  People don’t tell the hosts that because you don’t treat a faux pas with another one by being ungrateful and complaining to your hosts, but I guarantee guests will notice and vent about it to others.

    That said – I don’t mind some limitation to the options so long as no guest has to open their wallet and those options are available the entire event.  If you can only afford well liquor and not top shelf, so be it.  If you can’t afford or your venue doesn’t offer cordial or cocktails with more than two ingredients or requiring different glassware, so be it (i.e. they won’t do cosmos, martinis, or mojitos, but you can get a rum and coke or gin and tonic).

    Post # 10
    1273 posts
    Bumble bee

    We had an open bar (no limitations, but only two signature cocktails as it wasn’t a cocktail bar) during our reception, which is virtually unheard of in the UK. I’m not sure whether it was because it was unexpected, or our crowd weren’t big drinkers, but the bill was half what we would’ve expected.

    On the basis of this, I’ll definitely look to offer an open bar at any event I host in the future.

    Post # 11
    8770 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper

    View original reply
    claire345 :  we had a full open bar for 4.5 hours (the venue made us close it up 30 minutes before the reception ended). It wasn’t very expensive for us and it was totally worth it. My friends managed to drink the bar dry of gin by the end of the night and were proud little drunkers lol.

    Post # 12
    877 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: June 2017

    We had a small wedding (30) and hosted an open bar. Honestly, I was shocked by how little it cost, esp given that all of our attendees were drinkers and no one drove (hotel shuttle for the win!).

    Post # 13
    261 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: February 2020

    I went to a wedding where it was open bar.   It went over and before the bride and groom left, the staff at the venue made the couple pay an extra $2000 before they left.   The couple had to open up their wishing well and pay their gifted money for the tab.   

    That is why my family and I are buying alcohol when we see it on special.   A mix of wine and beer.  If it runs out then tough tittles.   I am even considering putting on BYO if the guests want.  

    Post # 14
    4005 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: November 2016

    View original reply
    claire345 :  We had a full open bar for 120 people and it was much more reasonable than I expected (and we hosted some heavy drinkers!!).  Our circles only ever do full open bars (except for religious family members who have had dry weddings) so we never considered doing anything else.  It sounds like it would be worth it to you, since your preference is also to drink liquor.  

    Post # 15
    2513 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: September 2018

    We are having over 100 people and open bar was never an option for us – we were dead set on having it. We budgeted for it just like food and my dress. We are allowed to bring our own liquor so that is cutting the cost way down but either way we would have had open bar!

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