Post # 1
I know the open bar vs cash bar discussion can get heated. I’m hoping this doesn’t happen here. I’m asking for advice regarding a limit on the “open” bar, and if you’ve experienced an open bar with a limit, please share your experience.
We will be hosting approximately 50-60 people at our reception. The reception venue is actually a hotel bar’s conference room. Our guests will walk through a door from the conference room into the hotel bar to order drinks. Because it is a hotel bar, bottled beer runs around $3 per bottle. Mixed drinks are quite expensive also.
Our plan is to have an open bar, with a limit. This would mean we would foot the bill for certain drinks (beer and wine, possibly one mixed drink) up to $500.
This would allow for around 3 drinks per person, if absolutely everyone drank. We may increase the limit after receiving RSVPs and getting a better idea from the venue what the drink prices will be.
My biggest concern is how to communicate this to the guests, because after the monetary cap is reached, it’ll be a cash bar. I don’t want to hear that this is a tacky idea. It is tacky to me to spend $5,000 on beer in one night. I know our families enjoy a few drinks but it is not within my budget to buy them all 10-15 drinks in one night. I just want advice on how to communicate this to everyone so they will be prepared with cash, if they feel the need to drink beyond the monetary cap.
Post # 3
When I was younger my uncle got married and had open bar for the first 2 hours. After that the guests had to pay if they wanted more. Maybe you could put signs on the bar saying something to the affect of, “for your convenience we are paying X amount or will be having an open bar for 2 hours, after which you are more than welcome to purchase your own drinks if you wish. And make sure the bartenders let everyone know that there is a cap?
Post # 4
@youhavemyheart – It’s not a tacky idea at all. We had a limit for our Open Bar as well in terms of hours that it was open. If people wanted more beer/liquor after a certain time, then they would have to pay. I really didn’t want the responsibility of people driving under the influence, etc. So, we decided to have a sign at each of the bars that read “Open Bar 6:00-11:00”. If you’re concerned about certain guests drinking more than others, you could consider doing some sort of ticket system (i.e. 3 tickets per legal guest). Hope this helps some!
Post # 5
Although I think the open bar for a few hours is a great idea, I wonder if people would be more inclined to drink more heavily those few hours to insure they get the paid for alcohol? Meaning your $500 limit would be eaten up in a hurry! I could be wrong, but it sounds like you are more concerned about the money portion, so I wonder if it would just be wiser to make it completely a cash bar? Maybe spend the $500 on serving wine at dinner for everyone or a champagne toast? Not sure if this helps just trying to think outside the box on this one! It is a toughy!!
Post # 6
I went to a wedding last summer that handed out tickets to each guest as you walked into the reception. That kind of ended the entire debate of people slamming drinks the first two hours. It wasn’t tacky at all and that was the first time i’d ever seen or heard of such a thing.
Post # 7
I would wonder about that too. It would be the responsibility of the bartenders to ensure that people don’t become ridiculous (double-fisting drinks etc) but I would be concerned about people drinking too much, too fast.
I like the drink ticket idea, in this case, because I think that it would achieve your goals @Youhavemyheart: you want to host a couple of drinks, but aren’t interested in paying for a whole night of drinking. The peeps who chose not to drink can always give their drink tickets to someone else, if they wish.
Post # 8
I’ve gone to weddings where this was done, and it has always been the bartenders that told us (when we ordered the drinks, they said something like “there is an open bar for 2 hours, and then there will be a cash bar)
You know your guests best…will they be the types to try to slam drinks to get in as many free ones as possible? If so, tickets might work well. If your guests aren’t likely to behave that way, then I think the time or money limit will be just fine.
Post # 9
I like the drink ticket idea to make sure that the people who drink more/faster don’t make it so the others don’t get drinks.
Will non-alcoholic drinks be covered throughout the wedding? Or will that be included in the 3-per-person drink count?
Post # 10
@youhavemyheart: I am considering the exact same thing. My venue said they will let me know when we are getting close to the limit and I can decide based on where we are in the night if we want to stop or allow it to continue on. I honestly don’t plan on telling my guests. I’m not too concerned with etiquette though or with offending anyone. They shouldn’t come to the wedding to get wasted.
that drink ticket idea is COOL. Hmm, I might have to think about that. Maybe include some in the program, and the tickets all overall add up to the limit of what i’m willing to pay.
Post # 11
We have this problem also. I wouldn’t have thought of it, but all of the venues we looked at suggested it. I’m guessing they’ve had issues with people being surprised by the bar bill in the past. I think we will go the route of tickets somehow. I’m afraid that limiting the bar time will encourage people to drink faster in the beginning, which is definitely not what we want. It really is just a matter of explaining it to people, so they understand whats going on.
Post # 12
Does anyone have a template for drink tickets?
Post # 13
I’ve been to many events (not a wedding though) where there was an open bar for a few hours (or an hour) that reverted to a cash bar afterwards. We definitely made a mad dash for the bar and had more drinks than we normally would have during that time.
It’s like right before happy hour ends, you get a drink or two just so you lock in the happy hour price.
Post # 14
the one’s we were handed looked just like tickets to get on rides at the fair… nothing special. But I googled ticket template free and got some things that came up including a couple of tutorials.
Post # 15
You can buy a roll of tickets that say “Drink Ticket” for like $5 at Staples.
ETA: They’re with the raffle tickets.
Post # 16
I think the ticket idea is extremely tacky at a wedding. Possibly the tackiest thing I’ve ever seen on this site.
I also think putting up a sign would increase the rate which people would drink. I have to be honest – if I saw that at a wedding, I’d probably drink quickly to make sure I got enough.
I think the only way to convey the message is to tell your bridal party ahead of time and let as many people know as possible beforehand that they may wish to bring cash.