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Open Bar vs. Cash Bar

Discussion in 'Bride World Wide & Grooms Grooves' started by SarFarSuperstar, Feb 17, 2006.

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  1. SarFarSuperstar
    Shiny_Rock

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    by SarFarSuperstar » Feb 17, 2006
    So Ebree''s Budget Bride thread made me think about this.

    What are y''alls thoughts and feelings about open bars vs. cash bars? What did you think about any weddings that you went to with either of these options? Would you rather go to a wedding where no alcohol was served at all? Just some things that I''ve been pondering since I''ve started planning. I appreciate any and all thoughts!
     
  2. aphisiglovessae
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    by aphisiglovessae » Feb 17, 2006
    I'm an experienced bartender who worked for a country club for four years. Here's some of the advice I gave to Sweetpea about her bar:

    I've read all over the place that it's tacky to have a cash bar, liquor or all kinds, but I found that it's becoming more accepted. I worked at a country club for 4 years (about 4-6 weddings a week during the height of the season) and we rarely had open bars. If anything was hosted, it was beer and wine. Liquor can be quite expensive and if you have friends and family that are big drinkers, an open bar can lead to nothing but problems. Also, if people get wind that you're having a hosted bar, they'll most likely only show up for the free food and booze, and you might get some extra unwanted guests as well..

    We're having two kegs of Yuengling and about 6 cases of each red, white, and blush wine. The people who are supplying the bar said we will only have to pay for what we use, so I'm not afraid of ordering too much. I'm also having a champagne toast for the guests and a few bottles for the wedding party. It should be a good, safe time, I hope. We do have some idiot friends that don't know when to quit, but everybody's got some.....

    and....

    There's two sides to tally bars. One is that the bartender will keep an awesomely accurate tally and you get those few heavy drinkers that will drink up almost your whole limit before the party's even started. The other is that the bartender gets a little overwhelmed and has a hard time keeping up an accurate tally. It depends on if they are keeping a handwritten tally or using a computer. Back at the country club, our bars were portable for the most part and a computer was not available to use. So we had to keep hand written tallies. When you're serving a hundred people as fast as you can (especially with the hard stuff) it can be a little overwhelming for the less experienced bartenders (not every place has hard core experts like me...ha ha...just kidding...I'm not a pro, but I have over 6 years bartending experience so it's easier for me to handle large crowds) and their accuracy can be off, sometimes by quite a bit! So you end up getting more for your buck, but you really won't know until it happens.

    Here's an idea: how about drink tickets?? We've done that many times in the past and it seemed to work really well with keeping up with a tally. You have so many tickets representing so many drinks and you give each guest a certain amount of tickets. They must surrender their ticket if they want a drink and the bartender keeps the tickets. If a person doesn't have a ticket, they have to pay cash for the drink. If there are people who don't want their tickets, they can always give them away to other guests. I even saw these cute drink tickets at Michaels that would look so much nicer than those ugly colored raffle tickets. Just a thought...

    Hope that helped!
     
  3. SarFarSuperstar
    Shiny_Rock

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    by SarFarSuperstar » Feb 17, 2006
    Some very good points, Aphi, thanks a lot! A lot of our friends are fairly young, as are we, and as much as I love them I''m afraid that an open bar might be their pandora''s box. Also, there are a select few family members on both sides that make me a little nervous. The drink ticket idea could work- I''ll have to see if my reception site would go for (and my fiance). I can just hear his mother now: "Drink tickets are tackier than a cash bar! Everyone does a cash bar! No one does an open bar- you''re stupid if you do an open bar!" She means well, but she has some very set-in-stone ideas about what is supposed to happen at certain events like weddings. I''m kind of afraid to push the envelope with her too far as I am already not having a Catholic wedding (gasp! she is aghast at this, no matter how much she likes me) and I won''t raise our kids Catholic (she has already threatened not to come to their baptisms- even though I''m Protestant! Same religion people! Ok, I went off on a small tangent, she and I really do get a long well but there are some very core issues that we wholeheartedly disagree on- let''s hope the bar doesn''t become one of them. [​IMG]
     
  4. MissAva
    Ideal_Rock

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    by MissAva » Feb 17, 2006
    [​IMG]
    I just posted this in another thread but it seems appropriate to repost it here.
     
  5. cpster
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by cpster » Feb 17, 2006
    Great suggestions aphisiglovessae! None of our guests were heavy drinkers so we did fine providing wine, champagne, and a large variety of non-alcoholic beverages like sparkling apple cider, orange cream soda, old fashioned root beer, and the normal soft drinks.
     
  6. aphisiglovessae
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by aphisiglovessae » Feb 17, 2006
    \
    Sorry, but I can't believe everything I read in bridal magazines. They are trying to give you advice on how to have an inexpensive wedding, but they still have to keep the wedding market high. I've noticed that a lot of the things in these magazines are still hella expensive even though they claim it's super cheap. I just go by good old-fashioned experience.
     
  7. aphisiglovessae
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by aphisiglovessae » Feb 17, 2006
    When I hear stories about mothers like this, one question comes up in my mind: Who''s wedding is this?

    I come to my mother for advice on lots of stuff with my wedding and she makes her suggestions, but she never acts like some of the mothers I''ve heard about. I don''t think I could handle that, the planning is enough stress already! I love my mom for being the way she is and I absolutely love it when she says "It''s your wedding honey, do whatever you like. I already had mine."
     
  8. SarFarSuperstar
    Shiny_Rock

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    by SarFarSuperstar » Feb 17, 2006
    She is a very supportive of our marriage- it''s the nitpicky details that she gets all riled up about- which is why I don''t get too upset about it. Like, she made a big to-do about what she was wearing to the wedding and I was like, "I don''t care- no one''s going to be looking at you!" [​IMG] She''s also been supportive financially so I am very appreciative of that. As far as mother in law''s go, she''s pretty great, when she''s not being stubborn. She blames it on her Irish heritage!
     
  9. ammayernyc
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by ammayernyc » Feb 17, 2006
    Personally, I think drink tickets or cash bar is one thing: tacky, tacky, tacky.

    I''ve been to inexpensive weddings where there was champagne or mimosas passed around during the ''cocktail hour'' and was red and white wine on the table. I just think that when you''re hosting a party that it''s bad form to have other people pay for their drinks or limit how much they can have. You are having a wedding, not a keg party. People don''t (or shouldn''t) come to your celebration just to get drunk. They are there to celebrate your marriage. You call way too much attention to the fact that you are having a low budget wedding or whatever the reason is that you''re not having a bar.
     
  10. SarFarSuperstar
    Shiny_Rock

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    by SarFarSuperstar » Feb 17, 2006
    Matatora: I agree with the sentiment of that blurb but what would you think about a dry wedding? Would that be worse or better than drink tickets or a cash bar? Just looking for some more feedback.
     
  11. aphisiglovessae
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by aphisiglovessae » Feb 17, 2006
    I''m sure she''s very supportive overall and very sweet, but I''m just concerned about the extra stress she''s putting on you or will be putting on you. Wedding planning can bring out the worst in some people without them even realizing it.
     
  12. Tacori E-ring
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by Tacori E-ring » Feb 17, 2006
    Of course this is your wedding so you should do whatever you want but I think cash bars are just plain tacky. It is rude to expect people to pay for things at YOUR party. Often times I don''t even BRING money with me to weddings. I guess the drink ticket is an interesting idea but really reminds me of business networking events. It just seems...I don''t know...silly. I totally understand that you are trying to save money. So, like I said in the other thread serving beer and wine (no liquor) is a great alternative. Even serving nothing at all is better IMHO. If you don''t care how your guests will feel or react then don''t worry about it and go with the cash bar. Since you are asking for opinions I am guessing you are on the fence.
     
  13. Tacori E-ring
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by Tacori E-ring » Feb 17, 2006
    I agree with Amanda's very good point. I hope you are inviting people who want to celebrate your love for each other not get loaded for free.

    ETA: we were writing our posts at the same time but really I agree with everything said.
     
  14. aphisiglovessae
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by aphisiglovessae » Feb 17, 2006
    Yes, people SHOULDN'T come to your celebration to get drunk, but the sad fact is that a LOT of people do. I just think that the bar is kind of a privelege for the guests. You've already spent all this money on their favors and to feed them! And they want you to get them drunk too??? If they really want to risk the problems and liabilities that come with alcohol, they can pay for it themselves, IMO.

    ETA: A dry wedding is an ok idea too, but I hate to say it, dry weddings I've worked ended up ending really early because the guests were bored. It's kinda of like a Catch 22. If you have alcohol, you may have problems and you may be out a lot of money and if you don't, people may think you're no fun. I'm having a beer and wine hosted bar which I think is great for someone trying to save money. It's less expensive than liquor, doesn't get people drunk as fast and they don't have to pay for it. But I have a lot of friends and family that like their liquor (they don't drink the weak stuff. ha ha) so the cash bar is for them. You don't want the free stuff? Then pay for what you want. Like my parents always told me: Beggars cannot be choosers.
     
  15. Tacori E-ring
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by Tacori E-ring » Feb 17, 2006
    Don''t do favors then. You are INVITING people. They come, get dressed up, watch your vows, give you a gifts (sometimes more than one) and you EXPECT them to pay for a glass of wine? Kind of selfish if you ask me.
     
  16. researcher
    Ideal_Rock

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    by researcher » Feb 17, 2006
    I did an open bar, and it was great. In fact, we splurged for the top-of-the-line drinks. But, my hubby and I knew there were only 4 guests we had to worry about drinking too much, and the people in our circles really enjoy a good drink.

    That being said, I think it's COMPLETELY acceptable to have a wedding with no alcohol (I've been to several mormon wedding receptions that didn't have drinks--not even soda at one). If you're not religiously or otherwise against having alcohol, my suggestion to save money would be to serve wine with dinner and pay for a champagne toast. There's no real benefit for having hard alcohol and beer if it's going to pose problems.

    ETA: We only had one person who ended up having a few too many drinks at our wedding, and she wasn't so drunk that she made a scene or anything (she was just hung over in the morning).

    Also, I agree that the ticket idea is tacky. I would prefer a fun, fruity non-alcoholic drink to tickets any day!
     
  17. MissAva
    Ideal_Rock

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    by MissAva » Feb 17, 2006
    My situation is a little different then most, I do not drink and FH almost never does. My side of the family has a few recovering alcoholics and my maternal grandmother was one. I don’t think I ever so much as saw my parents have a sip of wine until I was in high school.
    On the flip side of that is FH’s family which are all big drinkers…and not in a good way. [​IMG]
    I flat out do not want alcohol at our reception because I want to have positive memories only of the event. I also think my situation is extreme. What time of day are you doing your wedding? Brunch type receptions are well suited to a single drink like Mimosa’s or if you have a theme wedding what about serving drinks to go with the theme?
    Personally I do not think alcohol out to make or break your event, and I do think cash bars and tickets are tacky but that is me. [​IMG]
    Having been a guest at one with the tickets I felt miserable because the people who knew me at the wedding knew I would not be drinking and I had people coming up to me all evening asking if I still had a ticket left…that is no fun. [​IMG]
     
  18. lovelylulu
    Ideal_Rock

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    by lovelylulu » Feb 17, 2006
    hello.

    i happen to think that a cash bar isn''t a very good idea and i think that a ticket/person is worse. i understand the cost considerations and nobody wants drunken nonsense at their wedding, but I think that you are the host and you shouldn''t require your guests to pull out their wallets at your reception. however, i have no problems at all with just having house red/white and beer available for guests. i think that is an appropriate compromise on the cost issue.
     
  19. aphisiglovessae
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by aphisiglovessae » Feb 17, 2006
    Well, like I said, my advice is based on my experience in the wedding industry. It may not be as acceptable for you or your area, but I've noticed it's becoming more and more acceptable in my area. Advice is just like suggestions, you can either take it or leave it (don't worry, my feelings wouldn't be hurt or anything [​IMG]). It's just out there for you to consider.
     
  20. SarFarSuperstar
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    by SarFarSuperstar » Feb 17, 2006
    Wow, some very strong feelings about this subject. I am definitely on the fence about this topic. I think my reception venue has the option of putting bottles of wine on the table. At 10 people per table- how many bottles of wine would there need to be for every people to have like 1 or 2 glasses? My fiance is really against the idea of open bar (the cost makes him cry a little) but I feel like some sort of compromise could be made. At any rate, I don''t think anyone I invite would be overly concerned if it were a cash bar- some people are telling me its the norm (for our town at least- I''ve only lived there for a year so I have no idea and I haven''t been to any weddings since I''ve been the legal drinking age). As far as what''s normal up here, no idea. Maybe I''ll ask the wedding coordinator at the site what most couples do- although it is in her best interest for me to have an open bar so she might be biased. But she might be honest- who knows?
     
  21. njc
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    by njc » Feb 17, 2006
    You get drink tickets when you go to fund raisers and company parties, not at weddings. And agree, when do you hand them out? Use them as seating cards?

    I think what Mata posted was great advice. If you want to give your guests free drinks and dont have a big budget for it, stick to beer/wine or serve nothing at all! I actually love cpster''s fun sodas (cream soda, root beer, etc). Being from the south, ive been to more dry weddings than ones with bars... open or not. Ive never gotten upset over it or thought it rude or the worst wedding ever. The first wedding DH and I went to was dry and he thought it was ludicris and actually left the reception to find a liquor store! Being from NJ and Irish and Catholic, alcohol means celebration to him.

    When we were planning our wedding, i told DH he was lucky my grandmothers were still not alive because there would be a *HUGE* fight over having alcohol at the reception. Being Southern Baptist, you dont drink, period. Him and my in-laws thought that was the craziest thing they had ever heard!
     
  22. ammayernyc
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    by ammayernyc » Feb 17, 2006
    You should make sure you use small glasses, that way you get the more bang for your buck. I think 2-4 bottles of red and white each on the table should be fine.

    I think the problem with open bars is that you are basically asking people for money. Unless you make it known in advance, people might be unprepared to pay or might be shocked that it''s not openly offered. I would rather be told that they are not serving alcohol than, ''that will be $5 please.''
     
  23. Tacori E-ring
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    by Tacori E-ring » Feb 17, 2006
    SafFar- there are about 4 glasses of wine per bottle.
     
  24. E B
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    by E B » Feb 17, 2006
    I agree with those that think a cash bar is a bit tacky. I'd much rather skip having favors (which I'm doing) and saving that money for liquor (we'll probably do a full bar but beer and wine is acceptable as well), as IMO adults will appreciate this far more than a piece of chocolate at the end of the night. I won't be having any raging alcoholic family members attending and I'm sure everyone will keep their wits about them while drinking. If everyone gets a little tipsy, so what? It's a party! Drinks will loosen everyone up for the dance floor. [​IMG]
     
  25. selflove
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    by selflove » Feb 17, 2006
    Well, if you were having guests to your home for dinner, what would you serve them? Wine?

    We''re having wine and beer and the standard soft drinks. Cocktails will be available but they''ll have to pay, which means everyone will go with the free wine and beer. Skip the champagne toast, people will leave it after they''ve taken a sip, and you can toast with wine, beer, diet coke, water, whatever for the toast.

    I''m not sure I''ve ever been to a dry wedding. I''ve been to cash bar weddings and I definitely didn''t drink very much. I''ve also been to weddings where you had to wait for the waiter to come around and refresh your wine glass--that was the worst.

    Basically, I want free flowing booze of the wine and beer variety. I want our wedding to be a fun party, more than anything. MOre people will dance, mingle, loosen up after a few cocktails (sad but true). Hotels are right across the street for those who drink too much, it''s right in our neighborhood for my close friends who need to take taxis (I worry about drinking and driving).

    I wouldn''t skimp on the booze, skimp on appetizers or entree or cake or anything else. Just my $.02.
     
  26. MissAva
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    by MissAva » Feb 17, 2006
    Hello! I am a GA peach and my parents are Methodist and Southern Baptist he is from NJ and is Catholic... too funny!
     
  27. aphisiglovessae
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    by aphisiglovessae » Feb 17, 2006
    Asking the coordinator is an EXCELLENT idea, assuming she'll be honest. And a normal sized bottle of wine (750 mL) holds about 4 wine glasses worth. The larger bottles of course hold more. At the CC we used 3-Liter sized bottles (poured into nice glass decanters of course) and they held about 12 - 15 glasses worth, I think.
     
  28. E B
    Ideal_Rock

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    by E B » Feb 17, 2006
    Absolutely. Guests will remember the drinks and food long after they remember your flowers.
     
  29. lmurden
    Ideal_Rock

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    by lmurden » Feb 17, 2006
    There is no way that my family would tolerate a cash bar! Ultimately, it''s your cash and you must do what you have to do. We are having our wedding at a hotel and alcohol is included.
     
  30. eks6426
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    by eks6426 » Feb 17, 2006
    There''s an easy solution. You have the "dollar" dance, but tell everyone that it is really the "tens and twenty" dance. Make sure the song is really looooong so you can collect enough money to pay for the cash bar! It''s best to do it after they''ve drank a bunch and are feeling generous. Make sure you have a dance for the groom too to get the ladies to pony up their money.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
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