(Closed) open bar during cocktail hour or reception?

posted 10 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
Member
282 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2008

While I fully appreciate budget constraints, I just don’t think it’s right to charge people to drink at your wedding. If you can’t afford a full open bar all night, perhaps serve just beer and wine, or champagne punch – no need to supply enough vodka for the Russian Army, you know? I’m not rich – my entire wedding is coming in at just over $5000 – and doing an open beer and wine bar is still well within my budget. I have been to several large, beautiful weddings where this was done and heard not a single complaint that there was no Maker’s Mark on the bar menu.

Post # 4
Member
106 posts
Blushing bee

Great post, Caroline!  Totally agree.

Post # 5
Member
2324 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2018

I agree with Caroline. You should never make people pay to drink at your wedding. No matter what, IMO. 

Post # 6
Member
194 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

i disagree.

we’re probably doing unlimited beer and wine, but if guests want to buy a cocktail, they’re more than welcome to.

reesey- we’re thinking about doing open bar everything during the cocktail hour and then limiting alcohol to beer/wine during the rest of the reception.

Post # 7
Member
291 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

i recently attended a wedding where the open bar was open during cocktail hour but not the reception. During the reception they left bottles of wine and champagne at each table…I don’t think anyone really missed the open bar =P.

Post # 8
Member
508 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

i would say to go with one of the suggestions above (open beer/wine throughout either with a cocktail open bar or not, depending on finances).  not sure what the norm is in your area or what your guests expect, but i wouldn’t expect to bring cash for drinks to a wedding and it may be a bit awkward for your guest to had a complimentary cocktail during the cocktail hour, only to go back to the bar later on and be expected to pay.

Post # 9
Member
71 posts
Worker bee

you can do what i’m doing. i’m going to have open bar during cocktail hour, close it during dinner so that people can have dinner and poured wine service, and i’m going to open again after the festivites for the paaaaaaaarrrrtaaaaaaaay~

Post # 10
Member
117 posts
Blushing bee

I agree with what most people have said.  As a guest I would never expect to pay for drinks at a wedding.  It’s like being invited to a dinner party and having to pay for your drinks.

I was recently at a wedding that had an open bar for the cocktail hour and then guest had to pay after that.  I’ve never been to a wedding like that before and clearly most people hadn’t etheir because just from overhearing conversations, people were very unpleasantly surprised.

I think you have some different options.  You can limit the bar to wine, beer and champagne.  Everyone will be perfectly fine with this.  Another option I’ve seen done with huge success is to have alcohol at each table, (I’ve seen bottles of hard alcohol like vodka along with wine).  This will save you tons of money and it’s convenient for the quests because they don’t have to get up to get drinks.  Or you can mix and match the options.

The worst option however is to have free alcohol and then "take it away".

Post # 11
Member
31 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: October 2008

The event coordinator at my reception venue actually advised against putting bottles of wine on the table, because she has seen so many go to waste that way. (And even if the table does drink all the wine placed there–maybe they would drink less if they had to go up to the bar and get it themselves!!) We’re bringing in our own alcohol and using a discount liquor place–they’ll take back the unopened bottles after the wedding and only charge for what we use.  We’re also sticking to beer, wine, and a signature drink for the cocktail hour.  In our crowd at least, everyone will be perfectly happy with beer or wine with their dinner.

I admit that I don’t like the idea of having people pay for drinks.  I was at a wedding once where they had open bar for cocktail hour and cash bar after.  Trouble was, the ceremony started very late, and once we finally made it to the reception venue, the bartenders had declared cocktail hour over!  That couple was offering all kinds of alcohol along with beer and wine, and I really think they could have pulled off an open bar if they had nixed the liquor.

Post # 12
Member
378 posts
Helper bee

I fought this battle and lost with my parents, so we’re having free beer and wine and then if people want a cocktail they can pay. Apparently it’s the norm there (midwest). And since they’re paying for it, I dropped it. Our venue coordinator said that a lot of the weddings are like that there.

Post # 13
Member
117 posts
Blushing bee

if you want to provide alcohol for each table. pretty much anywhere you buy it, they will take back anything that is unopened….and if they don’t, hey more for your bar at home 🙂

As to Smithie’s comment about guest maybe drinking more if they don’t have to get up to get it –> I guess I come from a culture where we WANT our guest to drink a lot at wedding. hahaha 

Post # 14
Member
193 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

Sometimes, though, providing bottles of alcohol on the tables isn’t allowed by the catering company (or could come with a hefty corkage fee).

I think that having a full open bar for cocktail hour followed by a wine/beer/champagne bar during the dinner would be a good choice. Or maybe just going with a consumption bar up to a certain dollar amount?

Post # 15
Member
735 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2009

maybe beer and wine and a signature cocktail or spiked punch?

We’re doing just beer and wine (got the wine during BevMo nickle sale!) and a champange punch.

Alot of people don’t bring cash to weddings because they don’t exactly expect to pay for anything. It would be a bummer to show up and not be able to get a drink.  

I’ve been to event with just beer and wine, no one complains 

Post # 16
Member
1238 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2008

We are doing one hour open bar during the cocktail hour. For dinner we have 26 bottles of wine that we have prepaid for (for 120 people) if people want to continue to drink.  I don’t like drunk people, so I figure that by only having an open bar for an hour, and then wine and champagne with dinner, it will keep most people sober.  I’ve seen a few of my friends weddings almost ruined because of sloppy and loud drunk guests.  I like the cocktail hour idea and wine with dinner.

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