(Closed) open bar conundrum…

posted 10 years ago in Food
Post # 3
477 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

not sure if it’s a regional thing.  my family always provided alcohol .  my brother’s wedding in san diego was open bar.  mine in las vegas was also open bar.  but i noticed that some people are no longer providing all of the alcohol for their guests when they are paying per drink or per hour.  many venues used to allow bringing in alcohol. 

Post # 4
7573 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

I don’t think Ihave ever heard of it being considered tacky to host an open bar. Maybe it was a religious area or something? otherwise even if it wasn’t the norm (and cash bars were) I would think guests would find it novel and great rather than tacky!

In my circle cash bar is a big faux pas but in my region cash bars (for spirits) is becoming the norm.

Post # 5
737 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

Tacky to host an open bar?–Ha!!

Here in NYC an open bar is expected. Never been to a cash bar or dry wedding. 

Post # 6
4394 posts
Honey bee

That’s so weird. I want to do a cash bar because I hate when people get out of control drunk. Unless its me from my college years haha. But I’m afraid people will be pissed!

Post # 7
7439 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

Canadian chipping in.

From what I’ve seen this is definitely a regional thing.

Also dependent upon WHAT booze costs, or IF a venue’s license allows the Clients to stock the Bar (by buying bottles on your own or from the venue… with a sell-back / credit clause), or if you are forced to pay the going rate (highend) for a drink at the venue.  Here that can easily run $ 7 to $ 10 (or more) PER POUR.

So with 100 Guests and say 5 Drinks per Guest over the course of the festivities (6 PM to Midnight) and that could easily work out in the neighbourhood of $ 5000 PLUS Taxes & Fees (minimum 13%) PLUS TIPS (minimum 15%) for a whopping MINIMUM of $ 6400 just for alcohol.

Consequently, most of the weddings that I’ve gone to here in Ontario, in the last 30 or so years, do not have an unlimited OPEN BAR.  Many may have a designated Cocktail Hour, a Champagne Toast, or even bottles of wine on the tables (at my first wedding we did all 3). 

Generally speaking, Guests are quite appreciative of such things… but realize that once “the party” gets humming after dinner, that there will be a CASH BAR.

Provinces where the Liquor Laws are more lax for venues (private rentals / party permits), or out in the countryside away from the big cities, then YES there may be more incentive for Clients to organize this aspect of their Reception, without incurring the same high costs that apply elsewhere.

PS… Have never seen HAVING an Open Bar to be tacky.  Have however known that “in some circles” (ie Military Families) NOT HAVING ONE is seen as in poor taste… but then again, a lot of those weddings I’ve been to have been held at the Officers Mess where the going rate for a standard pour is just a few dollars… so a HUGE difference, in cash outlay for the Client.


Post # 8
777 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2018

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding with a cash bar, but SO and I aren’t really drinkers (plus SO has medication that shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol anyway) so we’re actually talking a dry wedding. I’m kinda torn cause I wanted at least a champagne toast, but I dunno we’re still early in our planning anyway… gotta decide a venue before we talk alcohol lol

Post # 9
246 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

Cash bar is pretty common among my church. Either that or only providing enough booze for 2 drinks per person.

I think about it like this…this is the biggest party I will be hosting in my entire life. When I have people over for dinner, I provide appetizers, dinner, dessert and drinks (alcoholic and non). My guests don’t pay for anything unless they ask “What can I bring?” and then I make a suggestion of something small like a bottle of wine or some chips and salsa.

When I invite people to my wedding, people aren’t going to ask what to bring because what’s expected of them is to bring a gift. Therefore, my guests shouldn’t have to pay for anything at my reception. Drinks, Apps, dinner, dessert, drinks.

With that said, I, being the hostess (kind of) get to choose what’s on the menu, what the drinks are AND how much gets served. Sooooo when it runs out, it runs out. For that reason I think it’s perfectly acceptable to set a limit on your bar tab and make it cash when you run out.

Post # 10
228 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

I think it totally depends on the area.  I grew up in a hillbilly town in the woods, and basically a cash bar is the norm there and nobody thinks anything of it.  If you have an open bar, folks are like, WHOOOOOA they must have money LOL.  But around where I live now, it’s the polar opposite.  Folks are horrified with a cash bar and expect an open bar.  IMO, you do what you can afford/want and it shouldn’t be anyone’s concern.  Smile

Post # 11
494 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2018 - Toronto, Ontario

in toronto ( Canada) its all about open bar, you must cater to the guests

Post # 12
7111 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

I don’t think either is tacky or offensive. Most weddings that I’ve been to have either a full open bar or free wine/beer and cash cocktails.

Post # 13
17 posts

i live in nj, and every single wedding ive ever been to has been open bar. my bf’s sister was considering doing a cash bar bc she didnt want to spend the money on an open one, and i didnt know what to say to her. she ended up having wine and beer only…….and no one wanted wine or beer. it was terrible.

just bite the bullet and do open bar. you only get married once or twice. do it big. if i went to a wedding with a cash bar, id rethink my gift (subtracting what i spent on drinks :P)

Post # 15
410 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I have never been to a wedding with a cash bar and it would definitely be frowned upon here.

Where I got married, alcohol is very expensive too. Easily US$15 for a simple cocktail but you just have to budget it in by either inviting less guests or limiting the kind of alcohol available (ie. red and white housewine only).

Post # 16
2468 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

We had a cash bar (they could cash OR use their credit cards and open a tab) at my wedding. We paid for the chapagne toast though. Noone complained and everyone drank. Plus our prices were super cheap. Honestly I didn’t care if it was tacky or not. My family and friends had fun no matter what.

Edit: We also didn’t want to have a dry wedding just because we couldn’t afford an extra $50 a head… I know my family and friends appreciated the fact that alcohol was availible to them. 

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