Wedding Ideas

Wedding Reception FAQ: the Open Bar Question

Posted At : September 30, 2008 2:06 PM   |  Posted By : Bridal Network   |  Views: 20,813
Articles on these Topics: Wedding on a Budget,Wedding 101,Ceremony & Reception
Articles about these Services: Reception: Wedding Venues & Halls, Catering & Beverages

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This is a question that every wedding needs to answer, especially when you're on a budget - and who isn't these days.. Do you want an open bar or a cash bar?

Last week we ran a The Top-5 Budget-Wedding Don'ts story. As it happens, "Don't" #2 was

Don't have a cash bar. Invited guests shouldn't have to pay for drinks.

That ended up being a rather controversial statement :-) Within hours we were receiving comments from brides-to-be, along the lines of the following:

I would like to know what these wedding planners think that a couple should do if they dont have the budjet for an open bar?! Ours would cost an additional $7000.00+ and we dont have the option of bringin our own liquor. Please enlighten me on why we should go into debt so that people can get hammered! And I love that everyone forgets that the meal is over $50.00 a head as soon as free booze isnt on the menu!

We love it when you tell us that we are wrong! (a) Shows that you're paying attention :-) (b) seriously, we love feedback - the only way to know what "real people" think. In this case, we think it is one of those things where the bride/groom and the guests may have the exact opposite percpectives. Like yesterday's question from a wedding guest, asking whether she is supposed to bring a gift if she is only invited to the ceremony. I bet you her preferred answer would me "no" - but how would you feel about that?

Back to the bar question though. As luck would have it, Alex Conde had been thinking along these very questions and she had the following compromise to suggest:

Be ready for a guilt trip almost as large as the one where you sent out wedding invites. There will always be unhappy people, no matter what your choice is. For proof of this, let's look at the Drama Curve.

Ok, I admit, I made up the Drama Curve, but based on experience it holds true. While you can have drama amongst people at your wedding no matter what, including a large amount of alcohol in that equation is almost guaranteed to increase the drama.

Essentially, the question that needs to be asked is whether you are more worried about people getting offended or about people offending you. Speaking on behalf of normal people, so long as you inform them that the refreshments will be served from a cash bar, most people won't mind either way.

If you do have the inclination to do an open bar, service will be quicker as there is no need to make change. However, costs for open bars can add up to a significant percentage of the total wedding costs. (no kidding! -ed.)

Lately, a trend I've seen popping up among younger weddings has been a compromise. The wedding couple provides a bottle of red wine and a bottle of white for each table. This suffices for most toasting purposes, and balances sociability with cost.

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