(Closed) Open Bar?

posted 9 years ago in Reception
Post # 32
Member
489 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I think cash bar is fine.  It is very common in my area (in fact I’ve never been to an open bar reception myself).  

Definitely host at least soft drinks, coffee, etc.  If you can afford it, host a domestic tap beer and maybe a red and white wine, even just during cocktail hour would be great for your guests if your budget won’t allow for the full reception.

 

Post # 33
Member
541 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

If you’re doing a cash bar tell your guests and expect the gifts to be lighter. Again something open is great, be it beer and wine or spirits too.

Always have at least water/pop be open, coffee is ideal as well at the end of the meal.

I was royally pissed when we showed up to a wedding that was supposed to be open bar and we had no cash, only credit and the bar was cash only and priced higher than bars in the area. I felt the guests shoudl have been told so at least we would know to bring cash…..

Post # 34
Member
5521 posts
Bee Keeper

I’m from the UK, and here, no way are open bars the norm, and no way are they expected. It would be expected for drinks to be provided with the meal, but that’s it.

In our case, an open bar would cost crazy amounts. Drinks at our venue are $9 for a 175ml glass of house wine, $7.5 for a beer, and from $21-30 for cocktails. Single spiritis and mixers are about $8-9. To have a properly open bar, we could be talking $6000 plus depending on what people choose to drink; crazy amounts for a wedding for just 80 people IMO. And this isn’t because we’ve chosen a particularly expensive venue: the part of the country we live in is not cheap sadly, and this is about the norm for a restaurant or hotel in our area.

We are providing 2 welcome drinks pp, plus 1/2 bottle of wine and a glass of champagne pp with the meal, at a not-insubstational cost of $55 a head, on top of the $100 pp the food is costing. We are then fortunate to be able to put $3000 behind the bar; however, this can only be spent on beer, house wine by the glass, and single spirits and mixer, and soft drinks; if anyone would like something else (eg champagne or a cocktail or more expensive spirits) they will need to pay. I think we’re being incredibly generous.

As a guest, I would never expect an open bar. But as I said, I’m from the UK and it really isn’t the norm. If where you live it is the norm, it’s trickier, but I would handle it by explaining the situation to guests so that they are prepared and come with plenty of cash. If people choose not to come, or complain, then I’d seriously consider un-inviting them.

Post # 35
Member
9168 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

@Baroness_Meg:  never been to a wedding with a cash bar, have been to weddings that served only beer/wine and was cool with that. Where I’m from in the US cash bars are unheard of.  I compare it to you wouldn’t invite people to dinner at your home and ask them to pay for their drinks, so why would you at a wedding?  I think cash bars may be more accepted in Canada it seems though, so you may be okay. 

Post # 36
Member
1486 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

@MrsWBS:  I wouldn’t expect dinner guests to pay for their drinks but I also wouldn’t provide them with unlimited alcohol or choice of alcohol either. Also most dinner guests that I have show up with at least a nice bottle of wine or spirits (and their own favourite if they’re particular in what they want) so while they may not be ‘paying’ they still paid for it.

Post # 37
Member
1486 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

For non-Canadians saying it should be an open bar, I don’t think you realize the price of wine, beer or liquor up here. The CHEAPEST beer is about $24/24 plus taxes! A normal cheap bottle of liquor $40+ and so-so wine $15+ and places that serve charge WAY more including having to purchase serving licenses etc.

Post # 38
Member
2515 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

I am on the anti cash bar side. The wine bottles a on the table and champagne toast would be okay in my book.

It is rare in our area and circle of friends and family to have a cash bar so I rarely bring more than some change to tip valet and the bartender with to weddings. So if you do go the cash bar route, be sure to let people know ahead of time.

Post # 39
Member
9168 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

@Luayne:  I agree about guests bringing a bottle of wine as a gift to the hostess, however wedding guests typically bring gifts, too so I see them as an equivalent. 

I never said you shouldn’t have a cash bar, I’m in the US which I said so obviously I don’t know what is customary for you guys or about alcohol prices.  I thikn providing wine at dinner is nice and would be fine – however having 1 or 2 bottles on a table of 8-12 people isn’t going to cut it in my opinion, since 1 bottle = 4 glasses.  I think you should provide enough wine for people to have 2 or 3 glasses but that’s just me.  

Also, if you do cash bar I’d warn people in advance. I never travel with cash so I’d be kind of annoyed if I didn’t know beforehand,

Post # 40
Member
7384 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

It depends on where you live/your social circle, and your venue. Our venue provides the alcohol (which sucks, since we wanted to use FFIL’s beer), and we can choose cash bar, consumption bar, or open bar (with various levels). Even the very basic (well liquors/beer/house wines) open bar package for 4 of 6 hours of our reception was MORE than our entire catering bill! I think we’re going to do consumption service or do $X and then it goes to cash bar, though people have said they’d rather have a cash bar than no bar.

Post # 41
Member
1087 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@caits615:  It’s not about NEEDING an open bar, but it’s about treating your guests and making sure they’re as comfortable and cared-for as possible.

I think the acceptability of cash bars varies around the country, but where I’m from–it’s simply not done.

If you want to have booze but are worried about the cost, maybe you can limit it to a couple beers, wines and a signature cocktail?

Post # 42
Member
1175 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

@phillybride61513:  When cost is an issue, I think it is about needing vs. wanting. No one wants to go in the hole for 1 day- wedding day or not.

Post # 43
Hostess
2203 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

Cash bars are not ideal in my opinion but it is definitely not a deal breaker.  If you don’t want to come to the wedding cause you can’t get hammered off my dime, then by all means stay home and wash your hair!  I will say that the absolute best and funnest (is this a word?) wedding I’ve ever been to was a DRY WEDDING!

Post # 44
Member
18 posts
Newbee

I think it’s an awesome idea to cut costs by doing an open bar for beer and wine the whole night and signature cocktails throughout the cocktail hour. It’s also a great idea to do wine on the table rather than at the bar as another alternative. Definitely don’t go broke for one day, you have to make a budget and stick to it! People can usually understand that.

Post # 45
Member
51 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

Cash bars are absolutely the norm in my area and among my circle of friends.  We’re doing a cash bar at our wedding, with the exception of the champagne toast.  I couldn’t imagine anyone saying that they wouldn’t attend a wedding where they weren’t able to get drunk for free.  No one NEEDS to drink at a wedding, and if it’s not in your budget, your friends and family should understand.

Post # 46
Member
1049 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

I personally do not think its appropriate to invite guests to an event and make them pay for drinks. You should try to do a limited beer/wine open bar instead if you can’t afford a full open bar.

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