Post # 1
My fiancé and I are paying for our entire wedding ourselves… we are having 210 people attending; about half of which don’t drink (mostly for religious reasons). The problem is we have many friends coming to the wedding that do drink. Paying for an open bar and knowing that half of the guests will not use it, and may even be offended by it, seems ridiculous. However, I want our friends to have a good time… I don’t want them to have to pay for their own drinks. FI and I are living pay check to pay check right now to make sure we are not in debt after the wedding… we want everything to be paid for up front. I don’t know what to do because I feel like our friends assume it’s an open bar and I don’t know how to tell them it’s not. Also, part of me says just pay the extra money… until I do that math.
Post # 3
Some people have really strong feelings about this. Personally, I’ve been to several weddings that had cash bars, and I’m still friends with the bride and the groom. 😉 It is nice to know ahead of time though, so I can make sure I have cash.
Would your cash bar include any free alcohol for guests (wine or beer)?
Post # 4
can you afford to host beer and wine? It doesn’t have to be a completely open (every liquor under the sun) bar.
Post # 5
I was at one wedding once where we were given drink tickets (everyone got 2).
IDK how OTHERS feel about this, but I liked it! Those who didn’t want to drink could give their drink tickets to others who wanted more than 2 drinks. And this all ensured a fairly exact drink budget.
Post # 6
How do you feel about limiting it? Offering just wine, or just wine and beer? Its a great way to keep costs down, still offer something for your guests, and not have a crazy open bar going on.
Post # 7
Is it an option at your venue to just put X amount of dollars down to cover an open bar for as long as it lasts? That way those of your friends that do drink can at least have a couple drinks for free, and you don’t have to put down more than you can afford. That’s what we did for our wedding since a large portion of our guests are drinkers, so it didn’t seem worth it to pay per person. Our open bar ended up lasting until about 10:30PM, and by then nobody needed more drinks! And if they wanted them they paid themselves. It was more than enough.
Post # 8
The place we are having the reception doesn’t have much to offer as far as the bar goes… it’s basically either all or nothing. The cheapest option is $9 per person for wine/beer and it’s only an hour. I don’t know, that may be average pricing but it seems like so much to me for an hour!
Is that normal pricing?
Post # 9
Would your venue do a tab bar – you only pay for what’s consumed? That’s how ours worked and it was perfect.
Post # 10
We had the same dilemma. 1/2 of our guests are heavy drinkers; 1/2 of guests won’t even have a sip. Luckily, we were able to do BYOB with our caterer/venue, so we didn’t have to pay per person.
Darling Husband and I absolutely did not want a cash bar so either way, we would’ve gone with an open bar. However, since we had a small guest list (around 70), we limited it to just a few selections of both red and white wine and a few selections of nice beers (e.g. Stella) and one signature alcoholic drink. There was a nice soft bar with juices/sodas that we booked with the caterer and we did a signature non-alcoholic drink as well. All of our big drinkers were fine with the selection as they were just happy to get free drinks.
$9 is good for wine/beer, at least for my area, if it was all night. I think it is a little odd and steep to limit it to an hour. For that, I would expect good wine (not $2 Chuck) and pricier beers (not Bud Light).
Post # 11
Can you pay based on consumption?
Or maybe do an open bar for cocktail hour and then go to cash bar?
Post # 12
@inky_1: Ooh, the drink ticket idea is a great one!
Post # 13
It really is best if your guests are fully hosted – i.e. if they do not have to take out their wallets at your wedding. I don’t know how things work at your venue, but you could see if you can do a limited bar (beer and wine only) or consumption-based bar (where they only charge you for alcohol consumed). Some places allow you to bring in the alcohol yourselves, as long as their people serve it, so you can go somewhere like Sam’s Club or Costco and get deep discounts rather than paying a higher price at a liquor store.
Post # 14
I’ll talk them to check and see if there are any more options available!
If not, how would you all suggest I make it known that it’s cash bar?
Post # 15
@emileekay: Do you have a wedding website? You could slide a quick line on there about it on your reception page. It’s not the biggest deal in the world. The last wedding we went to had a cash bar, and we just wish we’d been prepared. Totally our fault for not having much cash on us though. 🙂
You know, at the end of the day, your guests will still love you even if they don’t have free alcohol. Your day will still be amazing, and you will still be married. If the alcohol is the difference between you going into debt or staying debt-free, I can’t imagine that it’s worth it.
Hopefully your venue can work with you to find a solution that makes you happy and that you can afford.
Post # 16
Why don’t you have a hosted bar (per drink) instead of a hosted per person package? Or a beer and wine package (no hard liquor)? I don’t like cash bars, and I’m not a big drinker. It’s nice when you give guests that option. No matter how nice your wedding is, if you have a cash bar – that will be the only thing people remember.