(Closed) How do I do a cash bar?

posted 9 years ago in Food
Post # 77
Member
1946 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

@ashleymorrall:  Really?  I think most people on here are actually VERY supportive.  Have you gotten bad responses to something?

If you want to see some boards with people WAY meaner than me, check out The Knot.  Those girls make me look like a pussycat.

Post # 78
Member
1438 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@s_h_e_l_b_s:  no we took the boring route, haha

If the venue doesn’t supply bar staff…. why not try to recruit people you know… do you have a favourite bartender at your local pub??  there’s also those recruiting agencies that can send out bartenders and servers.

Post # 79
Member
573 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

@RockStar33: We also added a note on our wedding website about the drinks. Here’s the quote copied from our site:

Drinks
Our bartender is Mr. Mouse (located in Yorktown, Indiana). We will have an unlimited quantity of beer (bottles and draft), wine, purple margaritas (our signature drink), and soft drinks. We will be putting down $200 extra at the bar for anyone who may prefer a different kind of mixed drink. Once that $200 limit is reached, it will become a cash bar for any additional drinks other than the unlimited ones mentioned above.”

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@s_h_e_l_b_s: We hired a local bartender to be at our wedding. Our venue was a little different though because they had a list of bartenders and restaurants that they would allow and not anyone else. Maybe OP could ask if her venue has any suggestions that would be cost efficient?

Post # 80
Member
467 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

@ Erika Meep – Thats a great idea for OP as well. I bet the venue has had different people work the bar for other events and may be able to make a good suggestion. Great note for your guests. I definitely agree its good to let people know ahead of time to bring some pocket money.

Also, Rockstar 33, having a local bartender would also be a great option for the OP if they have someone they know and like. I know we came from a super small town.. and I never even thought of asking our local bartender lol.

 

Post # 81
Member
3683 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

OP, unfortunately I can’t help you with what you originally asked, which is if anyone had experience doing the bar.  However, I did want to say I think your plan’s really nice.  You provide wine to the tables, and have a cash bar for those who want the extra.  I think that’s totally fine.

 

On another note, I’m surprised by how emotionally charged people get about the cash bar thing.  First off, it’s not a bad idea to have a cash bar because it will limit how many people get plastered at your wedding.  It becomes a safety issue when you think about how many of these people are driving home.  Secondly, alcohol isn’t a NEED.  It’s a luxury.  Not everyone NEEDS to drink to have a good time.  It’s also really expensive, and if you’ve met your budget with necessities to entertain your guests, you shouldn’t have to stretch yourself further for something that’s an extra.  Now, if you can afford it and choose to have a cash bar – that’s great, and you’ll guests will love you for it.  It doesn’t have to be so black and white, though of “cash bar evil/open bar good”.  I’d have to agree with Elvis on this one (although I think I tend to agree with her a lot).

Post # 82
Member
6 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: July 2014

I’m from the UK and I have never been to a wedding with a free/paid bar. Although from what I’ve seen on TV and read it seems like a very popular option in the USA, but for me and many friends it just isn’t a feasable option here.

The price of alcoholic drinks at functions (ie. weddings, birthday parties, events) are ridiculous, at nearly £5/$9 for a single drink. So you can see how paying for drinks for all guests can add up and take over the budget! Also, there is a huge ‘drink culture’ here, where it is usual for some people to drink heavily (maybe it’s just my friends) but I would not feel comfortable filling them with drinks so that they can barely remember the day.

I think having a cash bar is a good option for guests to have an alcoholic drink (after the complimentary wine and champagne during the meal) so that they have the option of partaking in a drink, but stops the risk of people ‘taking advantage’.

Hope this helps!

Post # 83
Member
2567 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

OP, my answer would really depend on who is furnishing the liquor and who is serving it.  It sounds like you are planning to buy the liquor yourself and hire a private bartender, ask a friend to do it, whatever— in other words, it’s your booze and you’re going to figure out how to get it out of the bottle and into the guests hands.  If that’s the case, I would urge you not to charge for it— not that I have anything against cash bars (really it is not my preference but I don’t see it as being “tacky” or “rude”, and I know unlimited free booze is not to everyone’s budget) but rather because I think there’s something a little off-putting about you as the hostess asking your guests for money, even if they are getting something in return.

If the venue provides the booze and bartender, then it’s perfectly acceptable to do a cash bar, and the venue should know the routine on this. A note on your wedding website or word-of-mouth to guests so they can come prepared with cash will help.

But if you are providing the alcohol and pocketing the money, I think that’s a little bit uncool, even if you’re not taking in enough money to cover the costs of the liquor.  If that’s the case, I’d do either free beer and wine for everyone, or keep a limited selection of liquor that is within your budget to give away without accepting money.

Also in many jurisdictions there is a big difference in cost and legal liability between a license that lets you give away alcohol to guests, and one that lets you resell it. So I would be sure i was 100% clear on that!

Post # 84
Member
1096 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

Hi Fellow Canadians!

I want to say that I live in Alberta and cash bar is the norm. I have been to 20+ weddings in my life (six this last year) and only ONE had an entirely open bar. 

Where we live, it is often a $2 per drink bar with two bottles of wine per table for free.

We had a couple of friends sell drink tickets for $2 each. We put out coupons on the tables for people to come and get a bottle of wine because we didn’t want to put out wine no one would drink. 

I went to the liquor store and bought a liquor licence for $25, and what liquor I wanted at our wedding. We hired bartenders through our caterers who had Pro Serv (the course required to bartend, even with a wedding liquor licence in Alberta). That way they could worry about what a standard drink was and worry about IDíng. 

Everyone had a great time, and no one felt as though they were being “ripped off” by having to pay $2 a drink.

Enjoy your wedding!

Post # 85
Member
94 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

@physicsbride:  Totally agree with you and with many others with their cash bar is ok opinions.

I don’t think there is anything rude about a cash bar.  Food and beverage (non alcoholic) are part of daily needs and therefore expected at a gathering.  Alcohol is not part of daily needs therefore no need to supply.  As far as not supplying any alcohol,  I would much rather have the choice of paying for my drinks than have nothing offered. 

I don’t think it is regional either (in the US anyway) probably has more to do with economics.  I think the ENORMOUS growth in the “wedding industry” is totally promoting open bars and spending in general and many are jumping on this band wagon under the guise of etiquette. I don’t think anyone should be bullied by the open bar police.

Post # 86
Member
1946 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

@fishbone:   I think there’s something a little off-putting about you as the hostess asking your guests for money, even if they are getting something in return.

If the venue provides the booze and bartender, then it’s perfectly acceptable to do a cash bar


I am NOT trying to stir up trouble, I truly have an honest question.  What is the difference between the guest paying in the first instance and the guest paying in the second instance?

Post # 87
Member
467 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

@ red pepper gal

Did you have lots of options (variety) with your $2 drinks? That sounds like a great way to go!

Post # 88
Member
12 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: September 2013

@oneofthesethings:  SHE ISNT ASKING THEM FOR MONEY. 

it is a option if they don’t like it then they don’t drink it.  its not like saying everything you drink you have to pay for. Its just saying she isn’t going to pay for everyone to get drunk, wasted and out of control. and if they do not want to pay then they can drink something that is provided without pay. 

Post # 89
Member
2567 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

@oneofthesethings:  The difference is where the money ends up. At least, that’s where the difference is to me. If the venue is charging me and adding the money to their daily sales, that’s ok, because the only relationship I have with the venue is a business relationship. The exchange of money for drinks within a business relationship is normal and nothing off-putting about it.  But since I am a guest of the host/hostess, and have at least some personal relationship with them, it feels awkward and a little wrong for them to enter a business transaction with me, especially within the context of the personal event they’ve invited me to. 

I may not be explaining it right but what it comes down to is, since the venue is a business, it’s okay for them to charge for things and keep the money, but since the host/hostess is not a business and has extended a social invitiation to the guest, the exchange of money in return for goods is not okay.  If the hostess wants to make a gift to the guest of a free drink, that is fine and lovely; if the guest wishes to make a gift of cash to the hostess (i.e. card full of cash goes into the card box as a wedding gift) that’s also fine and lovely. But if the hostess is taking money from her guests and giving them something back in return, it’s not lovely any more.

Post # 90
Member
467 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

Maybe those who want to argue why people do cash bars could start a new thread.. although I guess at this point the OP is probably gone.

OP, maybe you could try doing some searches on the weddingbee site for some cash bar threads that may have some other ideas for you. Hope it helps! Good luck!

Post # 91
Member
238 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2011

how long before this is shut down?…

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