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How to tell guests it's NOT an open bar...?

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23 replies to this topic

#1 angieanderson

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    Posted 15 June 2009 - 11:54 AM

    We have booked our reception dinner at this awesome little restaurant by the ocean and absolutely love it. The food is delicious and it isn't superrr expensive either; the average is about $20 a plate. My mom has offered to pay for the dinner, so long as it did not exceed $500. We were both uncomfortable with that because we were determined to pay for everything ourselves, but she insisted. So we figured we would stay well under that budget with our 18 guests, plus gratuity. Should anything exceed $500, my fiance and I would pay for it.

    So, the group of people we invited are our most favorite people in the world-- they also happen to be the biggest drinkers in the world. LOL. We want them to have a good time, but we don't want to pay out the butt for them to marinate in alcohol either. We figured that we would limit FOUR alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, mixed drinks, etc) per person and anything after that, they would have to pay on their own. My fiance liked this idea, and I know our friends won't mind paying for their own drinks, but a few friends (that weren't invited) have said that it's sort of tacky. I'm sort of stuck in the middle. I see where my fiance is coming from, but I also see how it could be tacky.

    Any advice?? And how would I tell guests what the plan of action was?

    #2 Alyssa

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      Posted 15 June 2009 - 11:59 AM


      i have to agree - i think this is tacky as well. if you are hosting these people for dinner i think you should take care of the whole dinner. what about just serving wine and beer? that is usually much cheaper than an open bar and totally acceptable? that way you are providing 'something' unlimited and if people want drinks and not wine or beer they can buy their own drinks??

      #3 CTall119

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        Posted 15 June 2009 - 12:07 PM

        Originally Posted by Alyssa

        what about just serving wine and beer? that is usually much cheaper than an open bar and totally acceptable? that way you are providing 'something' unlimited and if people want drinks and not wine or beer they can buy their own drinks??
        I totally agree that a wine and beer bar would be a GREAT alternative! You may even be able to reduce the cost by supplying the alcohol yourself. Put wine openers at the table, perhaps, and maybe you could avoid having to pay the corking fee.

        Another alternative suggestion would be to have the OPEN BAR turn CASH BAR after you have exceeded a pre-set limit.

        If you and your Fiance could swing it, you could put X dollars towards the bar and then when your guests reach that pre-set limit the bar turns into a cash bar. I went to a graduation party recently where they did this. I have also went to a wedding recently where it was an OPEN BAR...and of course all the guests - starting at 1pm - were drinking top shelf liquor...and the bar bill ended up almost costing THREE times the amount of the reception itself.


        #4 ~Jessica~

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          Posted 15 June 2009 - 12:55 PM

          I don't really agree with Alyssa that it is tacky, because even though your friends are drinkers and it is nice to have an open bar you also do not want them to drink you clean out of money and also pay to have a bunch of drunk people get even more drunk. Alcohol can get so expensive! But I do think Chantelle has a great idea about the open bar till a certain time and then make it into a cash bar. I was at a birthday party that was like that and I think it worked out great. That way you are doing the best of both worlds.

          I also think it is your day and you do what you feel comfortable doing. If you guys only want to have a four drink minimum your guests will understand, just make sure it is stated somewhere so they know to bring extra money. I know a lot of people don't think to bring $$ to a reception unless they know it is a cash bar. Weddings are expensive and your guests will understand that!

          #5 boscobel

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            Posted 15 June 2009 - 01:24 PM

            Interesting thoughts, but I agree with Alyssa. And I think offering wine/beer is a good alternative. It allows people to make the decision if they want a "special" drink. I am not really crazy about the idea of setting a price limit and having the bar turn to a cash bar after the limit has been met; BUT I think having a time limit is also a good option! If dinner is at 6pm, perhaps it can be open bar from 5:30-7pm; 6-7; 6:30-7. Those are both good alternatives that you might want to check with the place to see how they price out.

            #6 Christine

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            Posted 15 June 2009 - 01:30 PM

            we did wine/beer only, no one seemed to think it was weird. We brought our own. You might talk to the rest. to see if their corkage fees aren't a lot (or maybe you can convince them to lower them for your group) and bring your own. We did that for our rehearsal and reception.
            Christine + Will (married 7/20/07) + Ainsleigh (born 6/25/08) + Nolan (born 11/9/10) + Delaney (born 12/31/13) = One Very Happy Family!

            #7 NaM

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              Posted 15 June 2009 - 01:42 PM

              I don't think it's tacky if that is what you are comfortable with. But I also agree that just serving something that is within your price range would be a great idea. If guests want something above and beyond that they can pay for it but this way your are providing them with something that isn't limited to 4 drinks.
              Either way I'm sure everyone will have fun :)

              #8 Jen_S

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                Posted 15 June 2009 - 02:10 PM

                Are your guests traveling to be at your wedding? If so then I think you should try to have beer and wine if you do not want to do a full open bar as it will be another a expense your guests that they may not of planned for.
                Our Honeymoon In Ireland!!

                #9 Jacilynda

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                  Posted 15 June 2009 - 02:11 PM

                  We are paying for the first drink, which is our signature drink for each person at our cocktail hour after that it is up to them. We just don't have the money for our guests to drink alot and we could do wine and beer but we'd have to pay for each beer which isn't alot cheaper than mixed. I don't know about tacky, it could be depending on the group. How would your group feel about it? I would pay for all the drinks at ours if we could, but we simply just can't so we're not, i hope my guests dont think I'm tacky

                  #10 *Nadine*

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                    Posted 15 June 2009 - 02:17 PM

                    Yah I agree.. I dont think its tacky. Actually most weddings around us here are not open bar, especially when its the couple paying for the wedding themselves. So we are always surprised and pumped when its an open bar Usually it will be a toonie or loonie ($1 or $2) bar.. or an open bar for the cocktail hour then a cash bar. Four beverages per person is a great start and guesture, you have to do what is good for you two. And if these are your fav people in the world, im pretty sure they know you guys adn know that you will be doing what you can for them and not even thinking twice about it. I know I wouldnt if it was my close friends wedding.

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