Hello readers! The fiance and I have been discussing alcohol options. A few weeks ago, you heard that I had decided against having an open bar.  Neither of us are big drinkers and the last thing we want is for our wedding to become one big drunken party (our friends are all in their twenties). Also, people tend to leave half empty drinks everywhere when it’s an open bar.

Image credit: Wedding Chicks

Our main problem is how to conduct a limited bar. We have to go through our caterer when purchasing alcohol, which means it will cost a lot more than just buying it from the liquor store.

The only thing we know we’re doing is having a white wine and a red wine at each table. We have about 75 guests and it is an afternoon reception.

So I need your help! Let me know which option you think is best:

1) Option 1: Drink tickets. This helps us control how many drinks each person gets and ensures that everyone gets to have at least 2 drinks on us. If they want to drink beyond that, it’s a cash bar. I’ve heard that drink tickets can look tacky, but we’ll definitely dress them up to look cute.

2) Option 2: Only have wine at the tables and two bowls of alcoholic punch. This highly limits the variety of drinks there are, but it keeps costs way down.

3) Option 3: Only have a certain number of drinks for free at the bar. For example, we could order 100 bottles of beer and when we’re out, we’re out. There won’t be the negative optics of drink tickets, but it also means that someone could drink 5 beers early on in the wedding, leaving no beers for another guest.

4) Option 4: Open bar for 1 hour. This is the most risky option, as I have no idea what our bill will be at the end of the night. It could mean $1000. Or $5000. This is also my least favourite option.

Please help me decide!

PS: One of my pet peeves is reading/hearing how “rude” it is to not provide unlimited free alcohol for all my guests. They’re there to witness and celebrate our union, not to get drunk! They can get drunk any other weekend!

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Categories: Bride-to-be Blogger5 Comments


Hi Vinnie!
My fiance and I went through the same thing, he really wanted open bar, I wasn’t sure I wanted to risk a big bill and an even bigger mess.
The compromise we came to was to have open bar on beer and wine, but anything else is a cash bar. We also opted to not have bottles of wine at the tables, at other weddings we’ve been involved in, at the end of the night there are invariably half empty bottles all over the place. People get up to dance, and instead of going back to their table to refill their drink they just go to the bar.
Our reception is slightly different from yours, in that it doesn’t start until 7pm but we’ve also decided to “close” the bar during speeches, so that’s one hour less that people will be drinking.

Of your options, even though you like it the least, I think option 4, having an open “cocktail hour” is your best bet, and if you want to mitigate costs, maybe just do beer and wine, and a signature cocktail (if you want a hard liquor option)

Good luck with the planning!

Dawn on November 12, 2012

Option 1!

We struggled with this as well. We finally decided on drink tickets. Each guest was given 2 drink tickets towards any alcoholic beverage. Pop/juices were all free at the bar. If guests wanted more than two alcoholic beverages, they’d have to pay for those themselves at the cost of a cash bar.

We figured that worked out best for us. We could still treat people to some alcohol and ensure they didn’t have to pay for non-alcoholic beverages. Ends up, people who didn’t drink gave their tickets to those who did, so it really just worked out.

Melissa on November 12, 2012

This is probably the biggest bone of contention for me and my fiance as his family tends to drink more then mine, and I would be OK with having no bar at all! I love what Dawn suggested! I think having unlimited beer and wine is a great compromise for those who don’t like cash bars, while still keeping costs down. I’ve been to a few weddings and even though it’s a difficult choice while planning, people enjoy themselves whether its a cash bar or an open one. My least favorite experience was with drink tickets.

Kaitlyn on November 12, 2012

hi vinnie! i personally like the idea of drink tickets. it will limit your guests to have 2 drinks and can get more from guests who don’t drink (or pay themselves :)). in the end, it works best for everyone, you and your guests. and yes, please make them look cute! all the best in your wedding planning!

jenn on November 12, 2012

We had a toonie bar ($2 if you are in the USA). The guest still feel as though they are getting a great deal and it’s a lot easier on the pocketbook. Everyone thought it was great! I don’t think that nowadays people really expect an open bar at a wedding. :)

Jen on November 12, 2012

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