(Closed) Open vs Cash Bar Debate-bit long

posted 11 years ago in Reception
  • poll: Is the open bar obsolete?

    Yep, it's ridiculously expensive

    Yes, it doesn't happen in my area/ culture

    No, it's a must

    Other - comment below

  • Post # 32
    Member
    2767 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: June 2012

    @Chillmer – Good point. it’s harder to judge when you know the ridiculous costs. 🙂 Or, they’re those people who paid for their own wedding by scrimping on X, Y, and Z factors that they think are “frilly” and “unnecessary” or “selfish” and weddings are all about your guests, not you, so how dare you want a $1500 dress when you don’t have an open bar? WHERE are your priorities? In fact, you should be ashamed that you bought your shoes from anywhere but Payless, because your guests are suffering horribly from only getting (heavy appetizers, parking that wasn’t paid for, free soft drinks, fill in blank here) and don’t you know that’s all they’ll remember from your wedding? 

     

    Post # 33
    Member
    278 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: August 2009

    I’ve been to weddings with both open bar and cash bar, but most have had a cash bar of some sort. Wine was always provided on the tables, however. My reaction to the open bar is “Cool!” but I would never expect it. Our reception was a luncheon and there was no dance or anything, so we just provided wine service and avoided the bar issue altogether. My brothers were only slightly traumatized by not having a beer with lunch. 🙂

    As a guest, I don’t think it’s up to me to critique what the hosts are providing. I guess I might wonder a bit (but would NEVER say anything) if the wedding was uber-lavish in every other way and then they scrimped on the bar issue, but generally the open bar weddings were the people whose well-off parents were paying and obviously no expense had been spared anywhere. The cash bars were the average people who were paying for themselves, or whose parents weren’t rolling in dough. Often the reception was in the church hall with the Catholic Women’s League catering, so I would hardly expect an open bar!

     

     

    Post # 34
    Member
    2419 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: October 2010

    Here open bars are not “expected” and they’re not the norm…. but they’re not gone…. if that makes sense.

    Typically, you’ll see open bars for weddings on military bases in the Officers club, and self hosted weddings. If it’s in a hotel or venue where the couple can’t bring in their own, usually it’s limited to beer/wine. 

    We will be doing beer/wine only. We’ve debated about getting other liquors since we’re self hosting, but the liquor license is a tad more expensive, and then all the other alcohol adds up.

    Our friends appreciate the occasional cocktail, but no one would miss them… If our friends were really into hard liquor, we’d probably do a signature cocktail… but, beer/wine is more than sufficient for our friends and their drinking preferences.

    Post # 35
    Member
    1557 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: June 2011

    I went to a wedding this past Saturday where they had a “toonie bar” for cocktail ‘hour.’ Basically, cocktails were @5p, dinner was @6p. Cocktail ‘hour’ lasted from 5-7p, during this time the drinks were 2$ flat. After 7p drinks were regular price 5-9$ depending on what you bought.

    I’ve never in my life been to a wedding with open bar. Some people around here talk about it like a myth, or the promised land of wedding alcohol.

     

    Post # 36
    Member
    1139 posts
    Bumble bee

    @lilyfaith.. I have to say I’m one of those people who thinks you should try to allocate your budget in a way that make your guests more comfortable.  I could never justify buying an expensive dress at the cost of providing my guest with a meal.  If a wedding is all about you and not about your guests… then why even invite them?  For the gifts?

    I have never been to a wedding that is anything other than a full open bar.  Average in Mass is about $30 per head for the night so it certainly adds up quickly, but to us it was worth the money.  I understand that it’s is a regional thing and some people would be completely comfortable with a cash bar, but our guests would never expect that.  We just didn’t want our guests to ever have to open their wallets at our wedding.  I like to compare it hosting a party at your home.  You would never charge for drinks in that situation.

    Post # 37
    Member
    643 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: May 2010

    I wouldn’t charge for drinks at home, no, but I would provide a keg which would cost $75 and some booze and mixers.  It’s a big difference to pay $200 for alcohol for a house party than $5000 for open bar at a wedding.  Plus, all my friends would show up with a 6-pack or bottle of something anyway.

    I think also the fact that I don’t drink hard alcohol has a lot to do with it.  I don’t really understand what’s so great about it that a beer or glass of wine simply won’t do.

    Post # 38
    Member
    361 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: August 2010

    @Moose: I would never expect house party guests to give me cash, but I definitely wouldn’t appreciate them showing up empty handed. It is general courtesy and politeness to bring a dish or alcohol over when you are invited to a party. Everybody knows that you don’t show up to someone’s house without anything.

    Post # 39
    Member
    1139 posts
    Bumble bee

    Correct, you do not show up empty handed to a party.  Nor do you show up empty handed to a wedding, you bring a gift.. so your guests have already spent their money for the evening.  My friends and I would never show up to a party with a case of beer to drink that night. You expect anything to be consumed that night to be provided by the host.  You bring a bottle of wine, or flowers, or chocolates as a gift for the host to enjoy later.. not to be part of the refreshments that evening.

    Post # 40
    Member
    1529 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: July 2011

    I think there is a lot to the comment that ‘culture’ is often less about location and more about what your family does. I have been to 5 weddings in Ireland and they all had open bar. All the weddings I have been to in England also had open bar. My first experience with a cash bar was at a wedding in Rhode Island. I have to say I did not really appreciate the way it was handled, but that is a different story.

    I am paying for my own wedding and am having an open bar because based on my experiences, it is a fundamental aspect of the wedding that I would rather not compromise on. It will be more expensive that way, but I don’t really see it as optional.

    Post # 41
    Member
    377 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: June 2009

    I’ve never been to a wedding (or a rehearsal dinner!) that didn’t have a full open bar.  I think it is pretty much expected in my area and if someone wasn’t doing it, I would think there would have to be some explanation/warning beforehand, like on the website, or word of mouth reminder to bring cash.  I don’t usually even bring cash to a wedding at all other than singles for tips.  I would think it was different to go to a wedding with a cash bar, but as long as I was prepared it wouldn’t really bother me.

    Post # 42
    Member
    640 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: July 2009

    I just wanted to note for PPs who think that open bars are typically done in weddings where the parents are paying, that’s simply not true. We paid for our own wedding with a reception in a hotel with an open bar, and had a budget of $13,000. We understood having an open bar meant we would need to cut back on other things, and it was a choice we made.

    I think at times there are valid reasons for not having an open bar. If you don’t have an open/semi open bar, fine, personally I don’t really care. I just don’t like the insinuation that it’s fine not to have an open bar if you’re paying for the wedding yourself or aren’t rolling in money, bceause it won’t be expected anyway. It totally depends on where you are. Almost all of the weddings we’ve been to have been open bar, the parents put little to no money towards them and the couple cut back in other areas to have the open bar simply because it was important to them and they knew the guests would be expecting it so they made it work. That was the case for us as well. 

    Post # 43
    Member
    1656 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: July 2010

    It was important to us to have an open bar so that is what we are doing. It is “the norm” among my group of friends and family (I’m not saying anything about culture or regionality bc really for me that has nothing to do with it). That being said, if other people do beer/wine or cash bar, I don’t care or think they are the “T” word as long as I get a heads up because I rarely carry cash and would need to hit the ATM first.

    Post # 44
    Member
    1404 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: September 2009

    We provided wine, beer, and nonalcoholic drinks and the rest of the bar was cash.  I didn’t hear anyone complain.  In fact, we had a ton of the beer left at the end of the night.  We also had plenty of wine to return to the store after the wedding.  People weren’t drinking a lot at all.  We thought all of the stuff we provided would be gone in an hour, but it lasted all night.

    I did have some friends complain – they wanted rum and cokes and all our venue had was pepsi.  I couldn’t help it though – the city (which owns our venue) has a contract with pepsi only.  This was not something I thought about until after the wedding.  So I guess brides should ask ahead of time if the bar has coke on hand for making mixed drinks???

    Post # 45
    Member
    1529 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: July 2011

    @realeastcoaster – very well put.

    I also wanted to add that having just beer/wine really is absolutely fine in my book and would not be as strange as a bar that is entirely cash, i.e not even a free soda.

    Post # 46
    Member
    361 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: August 2010

    @Moose: Well then it must be an area thing because I would be completely offended if I spent all day baking a cake and the hosts of the party refused to serve it. That is just bad etiquette in my opinion. Most parties I go to though aren’t high class and I prefer it that way. Give me a backyard BBQ with friends anyday over wine sipping and appetizers.

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