Cash Bar/ Open Bar

OshkoshBrideJune 27, 2004

How is everyone doing this for their reception? I am originally from St. Louis and evgery wedding that I went to was cash bar, with beer and soda and maybe wine free. I know live in Wisconsin and a cash bar seems to be the norm here also. My mother went to a wedding for the daughter of one of our towns more affluent couple and they had a cash bar, so she thinks it fine for my reception. On other wedding boards I have been to there is such a debate betwen the two options.

What we are doing for ours is a cash bar with free beer and soda and wine and then for our bridal party, their guests and our families have open bar.

Just want to know what others are doing...

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I am in Savannah Georgia. We had a cash bar and no one minded one bit.
We attended a wedding in New Hampshire last summer with a cash bar as well.
Seems to be the norm any more.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 8:12PM
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I live in Vancouver, BC (Canada) and cash bar is totally normal here. I've been to a wedding where only the wedding party got unlimited drinks. Last year when we were in our friends wedding each table got a bottle of wine and everyone got two drink tickets (including the wedding party) and after that it was a cash bar.

A few years ago we went to a small backyard wedding and wine and soda was available but it was BYOB beyond that, no one minded at all. That it what we will be doing (most of the guests will be the same so we know nobody's going to mind). I'm sure some people wouldn't like it that way but we're having a small casual elegance (yes, I realize that's a complete oxymoron) atmosphere and I think it will fit just fine for us.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 9:39PM
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Small casual elegance is as much as an oxymoron for my simple elegance! On a $5000 budget I am putting the groom and his men in cutaways, grey vests and ascots to go with my Jackie Kennedyesque dress...with a wildflower theme! But I just love the phrases casual and simple elegance dahling!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 10:36PM
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Never seen such a thing. Around here (mid-South), guests are treated as guests and don't pay. Often, the bar tab is picked up by the groom or groom's family.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 11:33PM
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I live in California (Bay Area) and had my wedding in Santa Cruz, which is over an hour from where most of my guests lived. Our wedding was at 11am so we had an afternoon reception. I opted against a full bar because I didnt want people to have an easy opportunity to get drunk on hard alcohol and then drive home through the mountain for over an hour. Too dangerous. So we had an open beer/wine bar, also with soda, water, etc. There was several kinds of beer and wine and just downstairs was the lounge (wedding was at a hotel/resort) so anyone could go get a real cocktail and bring it back up if they wanted. Nobody did. Worked perfectly.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 12:13AM
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Here in New York, an open bar is the norm. But so are large cash gifts to the wedding couple. As a guest, it would annoy me to write a $250 dollar gift check and then pay for my own drinks on top of that.

My son is getting married in May 2005 and DH & I will pay the open bar tab at the reception.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 7:23AM
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I'm in upstate NY and have been to weddings in Vermont, NH and Massachussetts as well. Years ago they were all either one or the other (open or cash bars) but now I've seen a trend toward both in one reception, which is how our site set us up.

The first hour at our reception (cocktail hour) was open bar and the rest of the time (after dinner) it was a cash bar, but wine was served with dinner. That's the basic package for the hotel (Marriott) where we had our reception, but you can do any combination, including a totally open bar of just soft drinks and beer if you so choose.

I think it's perfectly acceptable to do either, but be sure the guests know it's a cash bar when they get there. A few times I was caught running back for my purse as a guest at friend's weddings!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 10:33AM
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In Ohio where I grew up, it was always an open bar paid by the groom's family. In Massachusetts, where I have lived for more than 20 years, it's almost always a cash bar. I still often forget to bring money, though.

All the etiquette books would tell you that a cash bar is just awful, as a host is expected to provide all food and drink. It seems to me, though, that whatever is usual in your community is fine. If it's a cash bar, I'd definitely warn out-of-town guests, though. When I was living in Ohio, it never would have occurred to me to take cash to a wedding, other than the gift.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 12:09PM
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I'm in MA and have been to both kinds, but a la the Southerner's post, traditionally a host provides everything, so some people would be surprised.

If anyone is having a cash bar, I would find a way to tactfully post that at the bar, because I still always assume an open bar when invited to a wedding. It is embarrassing to order a drink and then be asked for money, when you don't have it on you.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 1:45PM
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I live in Seattle and have never attended a wedding with a cash bar. The opinion here is that it is fine to have no alcohol, or to just have beer and wine, or just a "signature drink" or two rather than a full bar (that's what we did). But your guests shouldn't have to pay for anything.

If cash bars at weddings are typical among your family & friends I don't see a real issue in doing one though. But I wouldn't do open bar for some (family and bridal party) and not for others. I think that would be likely to make some guests feel like they were not very important to you.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 2:14PM
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My first question is how to do you manage to only give an open bar to select people? It seems rather confusing and difficult - and it gives the atmosphere of having some "preferred" guests.

We also had this dilemna and question for our wedding. We opted to provide wine, beer, champagne, and soft drinks. There was a cash bar outside of our reception (the restaurant's bar) that people could go to if they really wanted a hard alcohol drink. It worked out well. I would recommend making sure you have enough drinks for everyone - we had about 130 guests, and 70% were light or non-drinkers, the other 30% were heavier drinkers. We went through 2 cases of red wines and 1.5 cases of white. The beer was of unlimited supply from the restaurant as was the soda - we brought in our own wine because we could get a better quality wine for the price and pick what we wanted - they only offered chardonnays and cabs, we wanted to have syrah, merlot, reisling, and chardonnay.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 5:39PM
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Oh good Lord! I just reread my original post and noticed all the typos! I apologize...I think I was half asleep when I wrote that.
Anyway...I would love to be able to afford a full bar for our guests, but money is so very tight for us. My fiances parents have not offered to help with anything for the wedding, my mother is footing just about everything. My fiance and I are paying for our DJ and harpist for the ceremony.
The idea about family and wedding party members and guest drinking free came from a wedding that we went to last year. Basically everyone who wore a flower, in a tux or bridesmaid dress drank for free. The bartenders were aware of this before hand.
Our reception hall does not allow carry ins of any kind, so we can't save money that way.
I really don't want to be a bad hostess...and I feel so guilty about this!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 6:19PM
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I am a coordinator in the Northwest. The norm here is hosted beer, wine, and soft drinks and sometimes champagne if the couple want it. If hard alcohol is served, it is a cash bar. It reduces liability for the hosts if guests purchase their own drinks and over indulge.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 6:41PM
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Where we live, both are acceptable. It depends on the parties involved, whether it's affordable for them or not. No one judges, it just is what it is. Some people determine their gift or donation with respect to whether they'll be spending more on a bar tab, but personally I don't do this. There's often no way of knowing if the bride and groom 'control' the bar receipts or whether the club does. Do whatever you feel you can do, open bar or not. Hopefully people don't judge weddings by that criteria.
Our wedding will be open, because it's 'expected', but I've attended some that were cash bars, but carafes of red and white wine were placed on the tables, and soda pop was also free. Do what you can afford to do...I don't think there are any hard and fast rules, and I certainly wouldn't be put off by a cash bar if that's what the couple feels is the right choice for them. HTH...

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 6:55PM
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I live in CA. We are also doing a cash seems to be the best choice because it allows you to have full controll over the wedding...this way guests have to be responsible for themselves...

we are buying one round of drinks for the wedding party!


    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 2:08AM
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I am from Upstate NY as well - and I have seen it done all the ways mentioned above. I think its more a prefernce of the bride and groom (or hosts) than tradition - at least among the weddings I have gone too.

We started the reception with a cocktail hour where it was an open bar. After dinner, beer, wine and soda were free - with a cash bar for liquor. We did run a tab for the bridal party. I think it was easy for the bartenders to distinguish the bridal party - any guy in a tux (included fathers)...a girl who was wearing the same dress as 5 others girls...or someone with a corsage (grandparents). As far as another guest getting offended - or thinking those people seeming "preffered"... aren't they? They are in your bridal party. To us it was just another way for us to thank them - they had done so much for us and meant so much to us that I thought we could buy them drinks for the evening.

We opted out of the cash bar for everyone for a couple reasons. One is that it was rediculously expensive. Two, I thought it would be very wastefull, people wouldn't hesitate to just go get another when they left their drink at that table "way over there" :0). Third, I didn't want to encourage people to get falling down drunk- and yes I had some of those guests!!!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 10:58AM
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If money is too tight, why not forgo the liquor and just offer your guests some wine and some non-alcoholic alternatives. You can buy case lots of decent Australian and South American wines for $5 or less a bottle, so it shouldn't cost much, and your guests will feel like guests, not customers.

If someone invited me to a reception and then expected me to pay for my drinks, I'd leave.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 2:28PM
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We're in the suburbs of DC. We had an "open bar" of soft drinks, wine, and beer, but not hard liquor. It was an afternoon reception, when hard liquor is less likely wanted, plus, we knew our guests and what they would want.

I've never attended a wedding with a cash bar. If we couldn't afford the alcohol, we just wouldn't have served it.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2004 at 10:53AM
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I live in Connecticut. We will have an open bar at our wedding. I have never been to a wedding with a cash bar. It depends on where you live I guess. I have never seen it around here.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2004 at 8:45PM
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This subject comes up on the Wedding Forum at least once a year. It really boils down to what is usual in your geographic region and what you are willing to pay for, I think. Personally, I don't like a dry reception, but I also don't like to see a lot of people getting drunk on somebody else's dime. Too much alcohol rarely enhances behavior. The idea of providing SOME drink: wine, beer but no hard drinks or providing tickets for a limited number of drinks seems like a good compromise between hospitaliy and bankruptcy.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2004 at 9:51PM
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Just attended my cousin's wedding this Saturday. It was open bar all night. As was my reception when I got married. My husband's parents paid the bar bill. Traditionally that is what is supposed to happen. Now a days it seems anything goes. Open bars are the norm for that area (western Mass.) and for our family weddings. Guests just shouldn't have to pay for anything when attending a wedding. I have been to cash bar receptions also But if you think having people pay for their drinks will slow down their drinking, Think again. People are going to drink no matter what. That's just the nature of a party. And a wedding reception is a party. I would probably not opt to pay for only certain people. If you are going to pay all guests should be included. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   July 4, 2004 at 9:51PM
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Cash bar, yuck. You wouldn't invite people to your home and then ask them to pay for drinks! Cut your guest list by 10, you'll have enough money for a beer and wine bar.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2004 at 3:33AM
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Maybe I need to clarify a bit...we are hosting beer and wine at the reception, just not hard liquor.
My fiance has been reading the posts and has asked me to ask all of you with open bar, paying for everything, what the tab costs. We have run this by members of our wedding party and family and all understand that it will be very expensive and maybe you have to live in Wisconsin to understand the amount of liquor that is consumed by people. Here you can have a town of 500 people with 4 bars.
The drinking culture is very different here than anywhere else I have lived. And drunk driving is a major issue here too...I would be devestated if something like that happened to a guest or innocent bystander at my wedding...

    Bookmark   July 5, 2004 at 10:31AM
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One reason that cash bars have become increasingly common is that your liability is reduced in the matter of drunk driving or any other behavior associated with drinking. A person doesn't have to get into a car accident for the host to be liable. If a guest gets drunk and hits another guest or pushes them down a flight of stairs, the hosts can be held liable. If you hire a professional bartender or use a bartender associated with a hotel or restaurant, they are supposed to check for inebriation before serving guests. That, combined with making guests purchase their drinks, reduces your liability if something happens.

I would definitely limit the amount of alcohol that you allow to be served if you are concerned about the amount of drinking that may occur. At my wedding this weekend, the hosts agreed to provide 3 cases of wine. The caterers came to me to say that they had served 7!!! plus nearly a keg of beer and they wanted to know if they should continue to provide more. Guests were also able to purchase mixed drinks, though the beer and wine were hosted. We had to cut it off for the safety of everyone concerned. If you allow mixed drinks as well as the beer and wine that you plan to host, you may need to set some limits as well.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2004 at 11:51AM
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People can get just as drunk on beer and wine as they do drinking cocktails at weddings. So I don't really understand the reason for having these free to your guests if you are concerned about drunk driving. Having a "dry" wedding is a way to stop your fears of drunk driving, bad behavior,etc. but it may put a damper on your guests fun and enjoyment. Have you talked to your future in-laws about paying for the bar bill? As I stated before, my in-laws paid the bar bill. That is the only thing they had to contribute money wise for the wedding so they didn't mind a bit, and it was traditional for the parents of the groom to pay. My parents and myself and hubby footed the bill for the rest of the wedding costs. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   July 6, 2004 at 6:26AM
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Not everyone has inlaws that can pay for their bar tab, though. I know mine couldn't. In fact they could BARELY afford the airfare to come to our wedding so I'd never have asked for money to pay for liquor. My own parents generously paid for the reception with the first hour of open bar and the rest cash bar in addition to their gift to us. Money was pretty tight for us, as my husband and I paid for everything but the reception.

Not one guest complained about it and all I've heard (or any guest who's talked about it ever heard) were compliments on what a nice reception and wedding we had, so I don't think it will ruin anyone's 'fun' if they have to pay for some drinks or if you choose not to offer the alcohol for whatever reasons you have.

I don't I the only one who thinks the reception is to celebrate the couple's new life together and not just to get sloshed? LOL I could have as much fun at a reception with no booze as one with alcohol provided. In fact at a few of the open bar receptions I've been to, I didn't even have any alcohol other than the champagne for the toast.

I guess in the end it's really a question for the bride and groom to decide which way they want the bar for their reception. Anyway, I'd say if you have reservations now, then you might be even more worried on the day of your wedding and extra stress is definitely something to be avoided if you can manage it! :)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2004 at 3:30PM
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As a guest I wouldn't pay much attention to the cash bar, but I think I might be troubled by the idea that SOME people get all their drinks for free, but I'm not in the "IN" group.

If you want to pay some of the costs of drinks for a few select people, I guess that's your prerogative. But pls don't let it be something anyone can tell.

For one thing, it'll be confusing, If the guest is on line behind the bridesmaid, and is watching to see how things work--the guests may end up feeling embarrassed if she walks away without paying (just like the bridesmaid did) only to be called back to pay.

Personally, I'd just go w/ simple drinks in pitchers at the tables, and skip the bar idea altogether--people don't need mixed cocktails, they really don't. I bet a pretty small percentage of people would even notice.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2004 at 11:59AM
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Having the groom's parents pay for the alcohol is done in a few areas of the country, but it isn't the norm. Usually, the bride, groom, and both sets of parents contribute to the costs of the wedding, with the bride's parents often paying for both food and drink at the reception.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2004 at 7:18PM
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We decided on a cash bar because we felt that if ppl want to get alcohol they should be responsible for themselves...we also will have champagne available free of course, but i wouldn't leave just because i' have to pay for one drink...if you don't like having to pay then don't driknk, but if getting free drinks all night means so much to you that you'd want the bride and groom to go broke while seeing you get drunk at their expense then go ahead leave!

I'd rather know that my guests pay for their hard liquor and that way they control the amount they have.

Is this about getting a free ride to get drunk or providing your guests wiht a great experience of seeing the happy caouple celebrate...and do all celebrations have ot involve!

I say, go with the cash bar, that way its less stress on you and if those guests who have nothing better to do than complain about shelling out a few bucks for drinks,, they might as well not even come...obviously getting free drinks is the most important thing for those guests instead of the celebration.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2004 at 2:38AM
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I think it's better to not have a cash bar. Just serve what you can afford and feel comfortable with. If you are worried about people being irresponsible, don't serve any alcohol. I do think it's a little strange to invite people to be your guests, but than charge them for drinks.

If you do go have a cash bar...PLEASE don't offer free drinks to selected guests while the others pay. I went to a wedding once where the wedding party was served champagne for the toast but the less special guests (myself included) were given tap water for the toast. I think all guests should be treated equally.

I don't go to a wedding to get drunk and am perfectly content not having any alcohol at weddings. It is a slap in the face when you aren't viewed as important as the other guests.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2004 at 10:57AM
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I agree with alicia. I know that this varies a LOT by community, but in my Ohio community, I have NEVER seen a cash bar, and I've probably been to a hundred weddings here (and several in my native Wisconsin, too). Guests are never asked to pay for anything here -- even a tip jar on a bar is taboo. If the hosts can't afford or don't want to pay for a full bar, then they serve just wine or just wine and beer or no alcohol at all. I know that cash bars are the norm in many places, and I'm not saying they are wrong, just that it really varies a lot. But as one who is not used to them, I have to tell you it has always puzzled me. I don't think anyone would dream of charging guests for food -- why is liquor any different? The theory seems to be that people prefer hard liquor, so you have to make sure they can get it, even if you can't afford it. But people like steak and lobster, too. So if you only want to spend enough for chicken, or even for just cake and coffee or a light buffet, does that mean you have to provide a cash buffet for those who want something else? It seems to me almost insulting to the guests to imply that they can't make it through an evening without hard liquor.

I also agree that if you are really concerned that you have some guests who will drink so much that they will endanger themselves or others, maybe you shouldn't be serving any alcohol at all (or maybe just limit it somehow, like wine at the tables only). If a catastrophe occurs involving one of your relatives or friends, it it will be just as tragic no matter who paid.

Oshkosh Bride, tell your fiance that unfortunately there is no way we can help predict the cost. Some groups drink a LOT more than others; you know your guests, and we don't. And the brands you provide can vary in cost a lot, too. Ask the caterer what is typical in your community.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2004 at 1:08AM
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I also agree with Alicia. Just pay for what you can afford and what you are comfortable with. All guests should be treated equally at the reception. If you want to give something special to your wedding party, helpers, and close relatives buy them a nice gift. I threw a bridesmaids luncheon and gave gifts to all of the bridesmaids, the flowergirl, ringbearer, helpers, and parents. My dh gave gifts to all of the groomsmen. All of our wedding guests were special to us, and I preferred to honor them all equally by providing a nice meal, beverages, dessert, and entertainment (in addition to sending a prompt handwritten thank you note).

    Bookmark   July 13, 2004 at 4:56PM
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In response to a post above, I don't attend a wedding to "see the couple celebrate." I attend a wedding to celebrate *with* the couple. And I don't give a rat's ass about whether they serve any alcohol at all--I'm there because they matter to me. Assuming that people are there to get drunk on the couple's dime is a horrible way to view one's friends and relations.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2004 at 2:15PM
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Well, this is a hot topic! I have posted my intentions on a wedding board in my local area (Wisconsin) and recieved tons of replies. I would say about 99% of couples went with the cash bar but provided beer, wine, soda, coffee, tea and milk (!) free of charge. That is how we are going to do it. As for the wedding party and their guests, if they want other drinks that we don't provide we will run a tab for them. That seems to be the trend where I live. I have done an informal poll of people that will be attending our wedding and asked if a cash bar is offensive to them and all said no. I guess the mentality towards open bars/cash bars in this area is very different from other locales. People in Wisconsin drink and drink a lot. Our guests will still be well taken care of with dinner, cake and the other festivities.
And, yes, our wedding party is special, that is why they are in the wedding. If I was to treat everyone the same I would be having 50 bridesmaids.
Thanks for everyone's opinions.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2004 at 4:20PM
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Well OshkoshBride, I wish you the best of luck at your wedding. I think you make excuses and I'm not sure why you asked us for help, because you are going to do exactly what you wanted to do in the first place. Maybe it is different in Winconsin, even though I've spent loads of time in you home state and I didn't find you locals to be any different from the rest of us. Maybe you have different traditions and expectations.

My wedding, my husband and I payed for. We're "Roadies", band crew. If you don't think my crowd are drinkers, rent "Spinal Tap." I could have had 300 guests, but would have found myself pinching too many pennies. So, I limited to 100, had a keg and few cases of (Costco) wine, and Lemon Drop Martini's. We also paid a licenced bar tender to be the resposible adult on duty. He was worth every cent.

Sorry Oshkosh, don't mean to attack. I just followed this post and kinda feel like my times wasted. But I trully wish you all of the joy and happiness a wedding can bring. Cheers to you.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 2:18AM
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Well, because we can't ask the hotel to close their bar during our reception just in case our guests are not satisfied with their dinner, free beer, wine, milk, tea, soda and coffee we have decided not to get married because we can't afford to foot an entire bar bill.
This of course is what a wedding is about...not inviting people to share all the happy moments of two (in our case 3 ) people joining together for life and becomming a family.
I didn't understand that a wedding meant we had to go broke paying for extras like more liquer than we planned to serve.
Our guest list is at 100...small you say? Well, we have already had to cut people, both friends and families, to make ends meet.
But, oh well, I guess I will take the leftover wedding budget and spend it on lotto tickets so that I have a chance to win big so that I can throw the wedding of everybody elses dreams.
So sorry to have wasted anyones time with my posts.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 8:17AM
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OshkoshBride, please don't take treehug's post so personally. I think she is probably just reacting to the way sometimes other posters say (and probably truly believe) they are asking for advice, but in fact are asking for support for what they have already decided to do but are worried that some of their guests will not like or will think is "wrong." It's human nature to want support for our decisions.

Of course no one is telling you not to have a wedding if you can't afford to supply everything your guests might want to eat or drink. The posters who don't like cash bars are only saying that an alternative, and the custom in other communities, is just to serve what you can afford or choose to provide; you are not obligated to provide hard liquor, or, if you don't, a way for guests who want it to buy liquor (or other food, or anything else). You're right; you are inviting people to share an important and happy event, which may include refreshments including alcohol and food, but it's not a drinking party or a restaurant.

If the hotel where you are having your reception has a public bar, there's your answer. You are still being the hosts, paying for everything you offer to your guests. And anyone who wants something else you aren't serving can just go to the public bar and buy whatever they want -- and for that matter, they can go buy a candy bar at the vending machines or newsstand if they don't like your dessert. That does mean they will be leaving the reception for a few minutes, but in my opinion, that's preferable to setting up a private cash bar (or buffet) for your guests.

Anyway, it's your wedding and your guests, and this really is not important. A cash bar never hurt anyone. You and your family will -- and should -- make your decision based upon what YOU want to do, keeping in mind what is customary in YOUR community, not ours.

Does that make you feel a little better?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 10:30AM
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Gellchom's right, OshkoshBride! It is your wedding and you know your guests and your limits financially. I'd say it's up to you and you've made a good decision for your situation. :) Don't let the pre-wedding planning phase get you too stressed out. Your day is supposed to be a wonderful celebration of your love and I know it can get downright crazy beforehand, but nothing is as important as the wedding itself and if a guest has to go down the hall for a drink, it's not going to hurt anything.

Sounds like you've got a good mix of refreshments chosen, so go with it! :)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 11:52AM
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I think that you are getting much too worked up over others opinions. I really doesn't matter how you proceed with your wedding plans- someone there will be miffed by at least one thing. You can't please everyone. Of course, you did ask about this hot debate topic so you really should have been expecting a variety of strong opinions! It doesn't seem like anyone is telling you what to do- just offering their two cents about the subject of cash v. open bars. If you don't want to hear peoples opinions...don't ask!!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 9:06PM
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If you go back and read Oshkosh's original post, she wasn't asking for advice...she was just asking what other people were doing for their own weddings.
And, she wasn't upset over other people offering their advice/opinion...she was upset that some people (or, at least, one person) seemed rather snippy that she was going to make her own decision. Actually, I was rather put off by treehug's post myself, and thought about posting a reply even before Oshkosh saw that post, to try to assure her that very few people were going to feel the way treehug did.

The fact is that on almost any given subject, and especially on some, there are strong opinions. And it is also a fact that customs, and what is acceptable, *do* vary by community, and even by social groups within a community. And we simply can't make every decision based on the possibility that *someone* will be offended, because it seems to me that no matter what we decide, there will be someone who *is* offended, or at the very least will wish that we had done it differently.

So, Oshkosh, as has already been said, it's your wedding, and you are doing just fine with your planning.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 10:03PM
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Interesting Thread. If one is invited to someone's home for a birthday, anniversary party, BBQ or formal dinner, are they charged for the beer wine or cocktails provided? How is a wedding any different? I think we can rationalize some things because it is "the norm" in certain areas, but is it right to INVITE people to something and charge them? Why just charge for liquor, why not food? The food is usually more expensive in my area, $40-90 per person depending on what you choose for a 3 course or a buffet dinner. You can get a liquor package starting at $14 per person anywhere up to $20 if you go with brand name. For 100 people that is only $1500-2000, a small chunk of change in the overall wedding budge. Any comments here? Curious.....Also, I think wine and beer is perfectly acceptable, which is what you are already providing. Ditch the hard liquor if it is outside of your budget.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 11:21PM
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If your wedding budget is $5000, then the $1500-2000 isn't a small chunk of change.
Oshkosh also stated that the hotel has a seperate bar. If guests feel they need more than what is offered they can buy it themselves.
Of course we do not charge guests in our home, but then we do not provide expensive liquor becasue someone prefers Glenfiddich over Jim Beam.
Yes, this is a heated topic and I would stop to think that when a bride is planning her wedding the last thing she needs is to be critcized for her plans and ideas.
Sadly, not everyone can be pleased. But I do not think it is her intention to anger her guests in anyway. She did state that what she is providing is the norm in her neck of the woods.
Happy Wedding Oshkosh!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2004 at 12:33AM
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Oshkosh, I'm a Mother of the Bride and our big day is July 16,2005. We are having beer, soft drinks, punch, iced tea, and coffee for our guests. THAT IS WHAT WE ARE OFFERING!!! If our guests want a mixed drink, they can mozy right on over to the cash bar. Period. Out of the approx 250 people we expect to attend, I only expect comments out of a couple of snooty in-laws. (Maybe it will make them leave early. Sorry, that was bad, but they are being invited out of obligation, not because of warm relationships).
You are being a good hostess, and you need to get out of this thread and move on with other plans. You are planning a beautiful day and sharing it with those who are important to you.
This is a more heated topic than I would have anticipated. There is nothing wrong with offering differing opinions, but common courtesy should always be used. Now, Oshkosh, go plan your wonderful day!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2004 at 8:37AM
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I really don't understand why any person would be "miffed" about anything as an invited guest! That just seems absurd. I am sure that my guests wouldn't have done some of the things that I did at my wedding, but I hope they didn't go around being upset about my choices! As a guest, I never think badly of the host(s). I am a guest, and I am just pleased to be invited. I am fully aware that people have different budgets, taste, and come from different regions. They may do something that I am not familiar with or do something I wouldn't do, but that doesn't make it wrong or something that I spend my time being upset about. As a guest it is my job to have a great time and be grateful to the hosts for inviting me.

Oshkosh, this is your wedding - do what you want. I am sure that all of the people at your wedding will have a great time no matter what you decide to do. And, people who love and care about you will not judge you based on something as minor as a cash or open bar.

BTW, I am also of the mind that open bars don't make people drink more - people who drink a lot will drink a lot regardless of if the drinks are free or not (hard alcohol was not served at my reception, but my SIL's BF was able to find plenty of hard liquor and get himself good and drunk). And, people who aren't drinkers aren't going to drink even if the alcohol is free. Adults should be able to monitor themselves - now as hosts we do have an obligation to the society at large to make sure that our guests don't harm anyone else (or themselves). So, that is tempered with making sure that guests don't drink and drive after our parties.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2004 at 1:30PM
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I want to comment on something SweetPea said -- I don't think it's true that if there is an alcohol-related incident, your liability, if any, is affected by whether you provided the liquor free or charged for it.

But that assumes that this is "your" cash bar -- i.e., a bar just for your party, but the guests have to pay, as opposed to there being a public bar somewhere else in the building that people excuse themselves from your party for a moment and go buy a drink (like a hotel bar).

I think actually that is what Oshkosh is talking about -- is that right, Osh? And by the way, I think that the posters who advised against a cash bar were talking about the other, "private" kind. If you mean a public bar outside your own reception, I don't think that it would seem like you are charging your guests for anything. And certainly no one could wonder if you are keeping the profits on the liquor sales! :-)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2004 at 4:32PM
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I attended a lovely wedding a few weeks ago at a resort in Lake Tahoe california. Money was a concern for the bride and groom. They had an open bar (outside) for an hour after the ceremony, then beer and wine at the tables (inside) during dinner. Hard liquor was available (cash) at the resort's bar but not at the wedding. Worked fine. On the other hand, most east coast weddings I've attended at country clubs or wherever usually have open bar all the way through. But those have been lavish affairs and if money was a concern, you'd never know it. Bottom line, it doesn't matter what you do. It's the people that make the party, and as with most weddings, it's a love fest and everyone will go home happy.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2004 at 6:40PM
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I think we should close this thread...its gone far enough!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2004 at 9:38PM
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