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 # 31
    2018 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: May 2016

    definitely do-able. We had an open bar  and dont regret it, we had a small wedding of like 60ish people and we provided our own hard alcohol and wine and so all we had to foot the bill for was the mixers and beer. If you do it right you can purchase your own hard alcohol for cheaper then a wedding venue will provide. 

    Post # 32
    9454 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: July 2016

    Ours was open bar.  We bought all the alcohol ourselves and had a licensed bartender pour.  We went home with soooo much leftover alcohol–our friends guzzled the soda, however.  lol.

    It really wasn’t a problem, if people got drunk (and some apparently did, according to them) they behaved well and we had no idea.  We actually thought no one got drunk, but at least a few people over the years have told me they got very drunk at my wedding.

    Post # 33
    1234 posts
    Bumble bee

    Our wedding was in the am followed by a luncheon and only had champagne and non-alcoholic beverages. If I could do it over I’d have an evening reception with a partially open bar. Maybe 2 drinks per guest covered and they pay thereafter (using a ticket or token system).

    Open bar experience: My sister had an open bar at her wedding. It was insane. Everyone was absolutely, positively shitfaced by the time it was speech time. The place they had their reception at had a great arrangement though – they charged way less as it was not name brand booze. (And the local taxi service made a fortune too driving all of our drunk selves home).

    Post # 34
    701 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: October 2018

    Our wedding will not be open bar due to cost. We’re having the party at a high end Italian place. They ONLY have high end liquors and things could get really out of hand. I will choose 3 wine options and people can have whatever beer, soda, juice etc they want. I talked to some friends and family members and they all felt this was perfectly fine – but then in Germany this isn’t an unusual arrangement. My fiancé and I most likely won’t drink at all because neither of use likes wine and beer all that much and we both get drink a little to easily, so it’s safer for us to not drink liquor during the party.

    I remember the big weddings in my family: there was always a number of wines to choose from and a number of liquors BUT those weren’t meant to be had as cockail drinks but as a single shot after dinner. Of course, one COULD have ordered several but that’s just not done. Also, my uncles have wayyyyy more money than we do.

    That said… we’re considering reserving a table at one of our favourite watering holes (a heavy metal cellar bar) for anybody who wants to go elsewhere after the restaurant closes down. We just think it would be funny to go there in our wedding attire and get hammered once the bit where we need to behave is over. However, people would pay for their own drinks there, and since a friend of mine did the same, they wouldn’t mind.

    Post # 35
    210 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: July 2018

    After reading through the comments, it seems that this is a regional thing. I’ve only been to one wedding that did not have an open bar. It seems to be the norm where I live (US West). We never considered not having one. 

    Post # 36
    222 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: October 2018

    DeniseSecunda :  Ok I understand that.  I guess when I hear set I think no flexibility.  I feel like if you have a bartender already making rum and coke. How much more difficult is it for to be made with coconut rum?  Like if she could set the menu herself I don’t think that would be an issue because she would ensure enough variety and think about quick add ins that would keep the line moving.  We do a pretty similar set up when we host where there is iced tea or lemonade spiked (vodka or rum) with a variety of mixers like juices or soda to create your own drink. 

    Post # 37
    321 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: October 2017

    claire345 :  for 30 to 40 people an open bar should not be that bad.  We had a consumption bar for an afternoon wedding reception for 44 people and it was not bad at all.  Some folks had a beer or mixed drink with lunch, most had water, soda, milk or coffee.  (Whoo milk!!!  You wild people!!!)

    Best wishes!

    Post # 38
    2655 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: December 2016

    We had an open bar for our engagement party and, from memory, we spent around $3000 – which was far cheaper than we were expecting. We weren’t originally going to have an open bar, but realised a few weeks out that we weren’t going to reach the venue’s minimum spend so decided to open the bar up – we were going to be paying the money regardless, so we may as well get something for it. I don’t think we put a block on top shelf liquor, but I’m pretty sure that guests had to ask for it specifically (if they just asked for a scotch and coke, for example, they’d be given the standard label).

    Our venue didn’t actually allow an open bar – it was a winery, not sure if that had something to do with it. The only option was the $X per person package that covered 3 kinds of beer (2 heavy, 1 light), 3 kinds of wine (1 red, 1 white, 1 sparkling) and non-alcoholic drinks. We were then able to add other types of drinks to the bar that we were charged for on a per drink basis – we added a cider, a sparkling red (mostly because Darling Husband really liked it) and basic spirits. We could have chosen to put a cap on the tab but decided to leave it open ended. Most of our guests were beer or wine drinkers, so only a handful actually ordered cider or spirits. In the end, I think it ended up only being an extra few hundred dollars to have those options available for those who wanted them.

    Post # 39
    1238 posts
    Bumble bee

    Depends on if your crowd are big drinkers, and try estimating drinks per person for those that drink, can help you with deciding.

    I was thinking of going with a per person package, decent drinks selection but no spirits in the package. Then I remembered quite a number of guests on my side are either non drinkers or drink very few (Asians haha).. so if I count on the drinkers having 2 drinks an hour for 6 hours (12 drinks which is um…a few bottles of wine?!) that will still work out cheaper than the package, with more to choose from. So I think I’ll go with the consumption bar on that basis.

    you can always set a upper limit at which point they will notify you and you can decide to either extend the limit or turn it off.

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