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Alcohol at Weddings – The Open Bar Dilemma

By admin on November 17th, 2006 8 comments

Mn20wine20pour_1 While reading one of my wedding forums recently (yes, I do a lot of that) I read an interesting debate about alcohol at weddings, and, specifically, open bars. Opinion on this one was almost completely split, with half of the participants saying they’d never been to a wedding with an open bar, and didn’t think it was necessary, and the other half saying that they’d never been to one without one, and would find it incredibly rude if they were invited to someone’s wedding and expected to buy their own drinks.

Well, I’ve been to both kinds of weddings – both with open bars and without them – and I have to say that the latter have far outweighed the former. In fact, I think only one of the weddings I’ve been too had a free bar, and while it was a very pleasant surprise, it certainly wasn’t something I was expecting.

If we had a larger budget than we do, we’d probably consider having an open bar. As it is, we just can’t afford it, so, instead, we made sure we picked a venue that doesn’t charge extortionate bar prices, so that our guests won’t feel like they’re being robbed every time they fancy a drink. We will, of course, be providing wine with the meals, and champagne after the ceremony, and we may also put some money behind the bar at the start of the evening reception, but that’s about as far as our budget stretches and, to be perfectly honest, I’m not convinced that’s a bad thing.

At the wedding I attended where the bar was free, things started out well, but pretty quickly degenerated. At the bar, people were ordering as many drinks as they could carry, and then coming back for more: as you can imagine, the behaviour of the guests degenerated too after not very long, and it all struck me as money that might have been better spent on something else.

What do you think? Are you having a free bar at your wedding?

  • Mindy

    You will be held accountable if one of your guests drives under the influence and is involved in an accident. Something to think about.

  • Rach

    We are giving all our guests a drink voucher or two when they arrive for the evening reception so they can enjoy a drink on us. We couldn’t afford an open bar so thought this was a good alternative and have made sure the bar prices are very reasonable.

  • Not where we’re from, Mindy – it’s your own responsibility to not drive under the influence here, as far as I’m aware. The drunk driver would be the one prospecuted, not the bride and groom whose wedding they’d just attended.

  • Caroline

    Free bar all the way – to me after the ceremony the party is the most important thing. I have never had to pay for drinks at other friends weddings and I have to say they have been good do’s with people having a great time without getting too plastered and ruining the day. I would rather spend less on my dress, and forget the pony and trap (not that I was planning one)than ask my mates to buy their own drinks. Saying that my elder sister thinks it is odd and that I should keep costs down by making people pay.(she has mainly been to pay bar weddings) I don’t think it is wrong for a pay bar and I think each and every one of us have our own budget nightmares. Don’t fret too much whatever you plump for, I think we should all remember that the guests are there to help you celebrate and they should be overjoyed to be invited to help you do so, pay bar or not. (Ps Mindy – I will be providing my guests with a coach back to the hotel so if they decide to be stupid @rses then that is up to them)

  • Mindy

    Amber – sometimes I forget there are still places where people are expected to take responsibility for their own behavior and not blame someone else. ;~)

  • I think if people are guests, then you pay for their drinks. But you don’t have to have a full bar. We kept costs down by providing our own wine and beer – we made a trip to CostCo – and not providing hard liquor. It worked great.

  • Jenn

    Every wedding that I’ve been to they provided open bar but there where limits. We are purchasing our own alcohol and because of that our reception hall is requiring that we provide security so that no one gets out of hand.

  • Amie

    I only went to one wedding that had an open bar. It was great! For my wedding, I am doing something different. I am adding BYOB on the inviatation as well as purchasing all kinds of alcohol. This way both parties can enjoy the evening. There is nothing wrong with asking for help because weddings today are so outrageously expensive. Your family and friends should be understanding not condensending.

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