Susan
Dedicated October 2018

Open Bar?

Susan, on March 30, 2018 at 9:14 AM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 0 67
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So I've been reading a lot lately on open bars at weddings. My FH and I have been together for 8 years and we're finally tying the knot in October. Since we're paying for 90% of the wedding, open bar all night wasn't exactly an option for us financially. Do you think its acceptable to just do Open bar for the social hour only? I don't want to be rude but we just can't afford the open bar all night. And if so do I put it on the wedding website? And for the older people that are invited that don't use a computer, should I put something on the reception card saying cash bar after Social hour? Thanks in advance!!

67 Comments

Latest activity by Susan, on April 4, 2018 at 1:33 PM
  • redhead
    Devoted August 2018
    redhead ·
    • Flag
    Have you checked out pricing to do beer and wine, instead, to be available throughout? That may be an affordable option.
    I definitely would notify in advance if alcohol will require cash, so people can plan accordingly, on a details card maybe for the computer iliterate.
    • Reply
  • J
    Expert June 2018
    Jamie ·
    • Flag
    I'm having a open bar up until the last hour of my wedding. It would have costed a lot more for one last hour... go fig. Not sure how to let people know they have to pay that last hour
    • Reply
  • BoudreauToBe
    Master July 2018
    BoudreauToBe ·
    • Flag

    You must provide some type of free alcohol throughout the night, even if it is just beer and wine. It gets very confusing when you offer it for a certain amount of time and then stop.

    • Reply
  • Mrsbdg
    Champion August 2017
    Mrsbdg ·
    • Flag
    Can you do a modified open bar?
    • Reply
  • Alyssa
    Dedicated September 2019
    Alyssa ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    We are doing the same thing. It's too expensive to keep it open for the last hour but we have 4 hours of open bar plus wine during dinner. I plan to atleast let the bridal party know and friends ahead of time so they can plan on it..
    • Reply
  • J
    Dedicated September 2018
    Jessica ·
    • Flag

    This seems to be common in my circle. Actually cash bar is most common in my circle but a lot of weddings seem to do cocktail hour as open, wine on the tables and then cash bar the rest of the night. If the bridal party and your families know that they can spread the word to people at the reception.

    Is the cash bar actual cash or do they take cards? I haven't been to a wedding in years that was actual cash for the bar, most we just put down a tab on our credit card. Its hard if you don't know before hand and you have to actually have cash, that I might put in a details card or on the website, although I've never seen that done.

    A lot of people here will tell you to host alcohol all night no matter what, but I honestly thing it depends on where you live and your circle. I've been to 1 wedding near where I live (and I've been to at least 10) that had a hosted beer and wine bar, never have I been to a full open bar, and the rest were all cash or cash after cocktail hour.

    • Reply
  • M
    Expert July 2018
    Melissa ·
    • Flag

    I have been to cash bar, open bar, open beer and wine with cash bar liquor or no liquor at all, open bar for a certain dollar amount then cash bar and dry weddings. They have all been just as fun. I have never showed up upset regardless of the drink options (unless it was not told that it was cash bar and there is no ATM onsite) so don't get caught up in opinions that say you have to provide all the alcohol for free the entire night. Yes, the reception is a thank you to your guest, but as long you are providing them with a fun environment, food options, and drinks (in general) you are doing the right thing. You are not being rude by not affording an open bar all night.

    As someone else mentioned, I would look into to see if an open beer and wine bar is in your budget for the night or for a certain amount of hours. If not, then see what you can put towards the tab and go with that. You definitely have to let guest know if they they need to bring cash. It's usually done by word of mouth or on the website. If your guest know that cash is required for drinks and they decide to come then they have nothing to be upset about.

    • Reply
  • Powers2
    Master April 2018
    Powers2 ·
    • Flag

    I'ts not great hosting.


    The wedding reception is the thank you to your guests for witnessing your ceremony. By having a cash bar, you are making your guests pay for their own thank you.

    • Reply
  • Anne
    Master April 2017
    Anne ·
    • Flag

    I think something should be available all night, even just beer and wine. Not hosting your guests properly is the wrong way to budget. To save money you should cut the guest list or find other ways to save besides making your guests pay for it.

    • Reply
  • Alysia
    Devoted September 2018
    Alysia ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    I'm not sure about other states, but I believe in MA, cash bar means physical cash. We have some crazy laws here, though


    • Reply
  • Sarah
    Master June 2016
    Sarah ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Yeah, I also live in MA and I’ve never attended a wedding that was a cash bar that allowed credit cards at the bar. Even a lot of bars in my area won’t take cards.
    • Reply
  • M
    Expert July 2018
    Melissa ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment

    In my area it is very rare that you will find a cash bar that allows cards because they don't want to have to pay the fee for running the card each time. It would definitely be nice if they did especially on venues that do not have an ATM onsite.

    I think you are definitely right that the bar hosting etiquette depends on where you live and your circle. I have been to a full circle of different "bar hostings" at weddings and I have never thought anyone was a poor host if I did not drink for free all night.

    • Reply
  • Ashley
    Just Said Yes May 2018
    Ashley ·
    • Flag

    I would definitely recommend looking into the beer and wine option to see if something like that is feasible. Many of my friends have been doing this because they have found it to be more budget-friendly. My own personal challenge with having the bar only available during the cocktail hour is that the time goes by so fast! I do not want my guests to feel rushed to make it to the bar during that time.

    • Reply
  • stbmrs2019
    Devoted September 2019
    stbmrs2019 ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment

    This is why I'm glad I'm having my reception in NH. Our venue takes cards. Even if it didn't, there is an ATM right outside the ballroom.

    • Reply
  • K
    Devoted February 2022
    Kristie ·
    • Flag
    We are having an open bar but only beer, wine and a signature drink. It is way too much money to have a full open bar.
    • Reply
  • Adrianna
    Expert June 2018
    Adrianna ·
    • Flag
    We aren't serving alcohol at all 🤷🏼‍♀️
    It's your wedding, it's completely up to you.
    • Reply
  • Heather
    Devoted June 2018
    Heather ·
    • Flag

    Can you do wine and beer the whole evening instead of an open bar for happy hour? Most people are happy with wine and beer as a choice and it will be more cost effective for you.

    • Reply
  • Susan
    Dedicated October 2018
    Susan ·
    • Flag

    Definitely going to look into seeing the price of having wine on the tables all night vs. just having open bar for social hour. I think that could be a great alternative!

    • Reply
  • Mrs. Sponge
    Master April 2018
    Mrs. Sponge ·
    • Flag

    FH and I opted to provide beer, wine, and two signature drinks. It was about the same to provide that as what we were going to put down for an open bar until it ran out. Providing beer and wine is fine. Cocktails will be cash bar at our wedding, which is frowned upon but I'm ok with that. I would rather pay for something I will drink than have an unlimited supply of what I won't drink.

    • Reply
  • Bianca
    Super August 2019
    Bianca ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Good idea! I’m sure whatever you decide to go with, it will be the right choice for your wedding ☺️
    • Reply

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