Just Said Yes May 2021

Bar input?

Kassie, on September 16, 2019 at 4:16 PM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 0 19
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Hi everyone! I'm looking for some input on what my fiance and I should do on our wedding. (Sorry in advance for such a long post).

We want to have a bar of some sort, but it cannot be open. With preachers on my side of the family, that wouldn't go over well. There is also a history of alcoholism on my side (not coming to the wedding), so some people are wary about drinking in the first place. His side is a different story, and my friends will absolutely expect a bar at the wedding.

I've been considering a cash bar since I don't want to encourage drunkenness and we're on an extremely tight budget (trying to pull this off for less than $15k in an area with few venues/catering services that add up to much less than that). I don't drink much, but when I do it's white wine or a piña colada and fiance prefers beer with the occasional shot of liquor, so there isn't much that can be just left out.

I really know nothing about booking bartending services, so I'm not sure what I should be asking or considering and we move into this step of planning.

Thanks in advance!


  • Amber
    VIP May 2020
    Amber ·

    We're opting to stock our own bar and I'd definitely recommend it (if your venue allows)! Much cheaper than an open bar with more control over what/how much our guests are drinking. An article I read suggested 2 drinks per guest for cocktail hour and 1 per guest each our after until the end of the reception. As we don't expect many of our guests to drink more than a few beverages (if any) and we're having a Sunday afternoon/evening wedding, we're doing a little more than half of the suggested amount (300 instead of 500). We're doing 3 kinds of bottled beer, 1 white and 1 red wine. This will keep our guests who do drink from overindulging and causing a ruckus.

    Hope this helps!!

  • Kassie
    Just Said Yes May 2021
    Kassie ·
    View Quoted Comment

    Super helpful! Thanks!

  • Keri
    Expert November 2019
    Keri ·

    Hosting beer and wine is the way to go. If you can bring in your own for a licensed bartender to serve, great. If not, it is still the more affordable option.

    I'm not sure how having your guests pay for it will appease anyone. People who choose to get drunk will do so whether it is free or they have to foot the bill.

    Maybe cash bars are the norm in your area, but I'm not a fan. I would never invite someone to my home and ask them to open their wallet.

  • Martika
    Expert September 2019
    Martika ·

    We have decided to have an open bar. Most people expect it. However, we will have limited options, because we are on a 10k budget. We have limited the bar too, two beers, two wine and three mixed drinks(most common: rum & coke, vodka & cranberry, whisky). We have the choice to supply our own liquor which we cut down on cost a lot. Sam's Club and Costco gives you the option to purchase a lot for a little money. They also will buy back unopened liquor.

    I also agree with PP, Whether it be cash bar or open bar, people will get drunk. I don't like the idea of cash bars. I personally never carry cash. Also I have a lot of out of town guest I would feel weird asking them to spend MORE money to drink at my wedding, after they paid to get there and most likely bring a gift.

    You know your guest better than anyone, so if you think some may drink and same may not, I would buy limited amount, and shut the bar down maybe an hour before the wedding ends. I am also only having wine and beer for cocktail hour(I don't want people to get too tipsy or drunk too quickly), once the reception/dinner starts I will add the liquor to the bar. This could also save you money

  • B
    Expert March 2020
    B ·
    Can you do drink tickets? Cash bars are EXTREMELY common these days, so don't let people bully you into a bar you can't afford. People on here do tend to get aggressive about this topic so be prepared for some possible rude ones. Personally, I believe soft drinks should always be free and you should offer at least one or two free alcoholic drinks. But that's just my opinion. I'm doing drink tickets because it's much cheaper than an open bar. Basically they get free soft drinks, the champagne during toasts for free, and then 2 drink tickets. So a total of 3 alcoholic drinks for free and it's at least $800 cheaper than doing an open bar.
  • Cher Horowitz
    Rockstar December 2019
    Cher Horowitz ·

    How about a consumption bar? This way, anyone who wants drinks has the chance and you only pay for what's ordered

  • Keri
    Dedicated October 2019
    Keri ·
    View Quoted Comment
    What’s a consumption bar?
  • Victoria
    Dedicated October 2019
    Victoria ·
    Hi Kassie,

    Congratulations on your big day! I'm probably the odd bride out on this one but my fiance and I are having a champagne toast (1 glass of champagne for each guest) then a cash bar. I have many alcoholics on my side and his guest side (friends not family), have a high alcohol tolerance so that was our compromise lol. Ultimately, you will want to do what you feel is best for your wedding. Good luck!
  • Mrsbdg
    Champion August 2017
    Mrsbdg ·
    I had alcoholics and wildly religious people at my wedding but didn’t let their actions or beliefs dictate how I hosted. If you believe a good number of guests will expect an open bar or some type of hosted bar definitely go that route.

    For financial sake (under $15k) I would recommend beer and wine or beer and wine with maybe a signature cocktail or two.

    Also, hosting your guests well doesn’t encourage drunkenness. Well trained bartender know how and when to cut off people who are going over the top.
  • Da Mom
    August 2022
    Da Mom ·

    I disagree that cash bars are common now days. I think it’s more of a regional thing. I’ve literally only been to 1 cash bar wedding in my entire life.....and I’m old, lol. Right now we are in the midst of our nieces, nephews, and our own kids getting married and none have had cash bars. That cash bar wedding a couple years ago was an older couple. If you feel many of your guests will not drink, then a consumption bar might be the way to go but personally I feel a proper host provides the drinks and doesn’t make their guests bring money to their event.

  • Katelyn
    Devoted October 2020
    Katelyn ·
    I’m having a bring you own beer type deal. My fiancé and I just don’t drink that much and there are a few alcoholics in both sides of the family. We have my step-mom who loves to get smashed and then go after me for something that I did that day or two years prior (it’s a long story). Then we have my cousin who is underaged and she has a habit to trick people into getting her drinks, and we just don’t want to encourage that. At that we are also trying to keep it within a budget (under 10k) and we don’t really care to drink alcohol ourselves. So, honestly I don’t want to have a bartender. I can’t speak for his side of the families alcoholics, but he said most of them are docile enough. So, it’s really my step-mom we are worried about.
  • Marissa
    Dedicated October 2019
    Marissa ·
    My fiancé and I are doing a beer and wine bar for 4 hours. We are only looking at about 1400 or less (we have a lot of people not coming, that was the cost with full guest list) with travel fees, tax and bartenders. My fiancé and I are really big beer drinkers and our families both enjoy beer and wine so not having hard liquor wasn’t even a big deal (our venue only allows beer and wine)
  • emily
    Just Said Yes October 2019
    emily ·
    We are just paying the bartender fee and if they want to drink they can buy their own drinks. We also are not big drinkers but our family members love to drink. I just feel you spend so much money on this whole day. If someone wants to drink alcohol it won’t kill them to buy it.
  • Alyssa
    Devoted June 2020
    Alyssa ·
    I agree on the beer and wine plus signature cocktail. It’s enough so people can have a good time without drunk people doing shots. It also makes your guests feel like they are taken care of without having to whip out their wallets for drinks (and put that into your gift instead). Drink tickets to me remind me of a work function where I need to watch my sobriety and that’s not fun.
  • L. Madhak
    Expert October 2020
    L. Madhak ·
    We are having our reception at the hotel my FH works for. We are providing a couple cases of apple ale (My Fiance's fav & goes with fall theme), and a spiked apple cider cocktail. We are also having tea, soda and water. The hotel has their cash bar for anything that we don't have. They also have coffee. Having the cash bar really helped to cut costs.
  • Cher Horowitz
    Rockstar December 2019
    Cher Horowitz ·
    View Quoted Comment

    Basically, it's an open bar without paying an open bar price. Any drinks guests order goes on a tab that you and FH can pay at the end of the night

  • Alyssa
    Dedicated January 2020
    Alyssa ·
    View Quoted Comment

    Same for us! So far a few people who "don't like beer or wine" were upset, but we feel like that beer, wine and craft soda/water are more than enough. We aren't also going to spend to bring in a liquor caterer for just a few people who feel like they need it. We have a limit, and when that limit is hit, people will have to pay. The venue is a brewery, so they require a minimum spend, which is just fine for us.

  • April
    Savvy August 2020
    April ·

    My fiance and I are on a budget too, (10k). Our venue allows us to bring our own alcohol, but there aren't many options for bar service where I live. We're have about 150 guests, and many of our guests drink. We can't afford an open bar, so we're doing a champagne toast, and then BYOB. If you want to drink, bring it yourself. That way we also aren't responsible for people drinking too much, we didn't purchase it and they won't take advantage of the open bar. We will have sodas, water, and lemonade/iced tea for the guests, anything else you're on your own!

  • Elizabeth
    Dedicated June 2021
    Elizabeth ·

    There are a ton of great alternatives to an open bar! This day is about you and your marriage and people shouldn't need alcohol to celebrate that! All suggestions above about soda/beer/wine open bars, totally cash bars, and consumption bars are great things to consider. Just be happy and don't let something as unnecessary as alcohol ruin your day!

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