Wedding Rehearsal Dinner and Alcohol

jdbs3March 22, 2011

As the parents of the groom we are hosting the wedding rehearsal dinner. Our plans are to invite the entire wedding party, as well as any family that is coming from out of town. This puts the number of attendees at approximately 40 - 60.

Given the number of people who might attend, we are trying to keep costs down. We have found an ideal place that is very reasonable to rent. We have also been in contact with food caterers. The buffet entree would be provided by the caterer; we would provide all other food including appetizers, salad, rolls, dessert, soft drinks, coffee and tea.

If we include beverage catering (a requirement for this one place if we are to have alcohol), then it will cost anywhere from $900 - 1,200 (an estimate).

What is the etiquette when it comes to liquor at a wedding rehearsal dinner? Is it acceptable to not have any liquor? Or would this be viewed as being cheap?

I would appreciate a quick answer since we are trying to finalize our plans this week.

Thank you in advance for you input.

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I'm a MOG this year, too --

No, etiquette doesn't require you to serve alcohol. But -- and this depends upon your group; you know them, I don't -- some people may be disappointed. And although we and our crowd aren't big drinkers, I have to admit that alcohol does tend to make a party more festive and fun.

Do they require you to have a full bar or nothing? See if you can negotiate. A limited drinks menu is much cheaper, both for the alcohol and for the number of servers needed.

Our plans aren't finalized yet, but I am figuring on beer, wine, sangria, and perhaps a signature cocktail at the "rehearsal" dinner. (I put the quotes in because it's just a big, casual party for all the out of town guests the night before the wedding -- the rehearsal will have been the day before.) We will probably have 150 people (all our many relatives are out of towners).

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 3:04PM
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You don't need to serve alcohol at the rehearsal dinner, particularly if it is a budget breaker. If you do serve it, it shouldn't be much so everyone is at their best the next day. If you have attendees that feel they need a drink, perhaps a group could get together after dinner for drinks.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 11:41PM
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Why not just make it a cash bar? That's pretty acceptible these days.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 9:28AM
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suzique, I know that that is true in some communities, but definitely not in all, so, OP, you need to consider your own community's and the bride's family's way of doing things.

I never see cash bars, and I think they would be considered very bad form here. Even a tip jar on a hosted bar is a no-no (the hosts tip the staff) -- anything that requires or encourages the guests to open their wallets is out. But a limited bar and even a dry party would both be okay.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 4:58PM
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Where I live, cash bars are the norm because of the state's host liability law. If the person purchases their own drink, it removes some of the liability from the host because the person made a conscious decision to purchase a drink. I know that is not true in many states.

In my area, we must use the services of either an on-site bar or a beverage catering service at most venues. Bringing your own alcohol is no longer allowed. If that is the case for OP, the beverage caterer is probably charging a hefty set-up fee to bring the alcohol, glassware, servers, etc. and set up the bar. That cost would still fall on the dinner hosts even if they have a cash bar to cover the cost of the alcohol consumed. If potentially only a small amount of alcohol will be consumed, it may not make sense to pay the fee.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 5:13PM
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Our future DIL has a family friend with a winery. They have offered the wine for the reception as a gift, but the location has an $18 corking fee per bottle. Makes it prohibitive.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 7:50PM
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Wow! That sounds really high. I would try to negotiate a better price, especially as you are giving them a very good booking. You will be surprised at how much is negotiable, but you do have to ask.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 11:09PM
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Well, all I can do is talk to the bride. The wedding is taking place in an area that is popular but there are only a limited few places to do so. As a result, they gouge and get away with it. They want to sell us all the wine, not have us bring it in.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 2:13AM
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