This past week, Miss Powder Puff and I had the pleasure of meeting a number of you through the wonders of BeeTV! One topic that came up was the eternal bridal issue of the open bar. (Dun, dun, dunnnn.)
Alcohol in general can be a touchy subject for many brides throughout the wedding process. Some brides have families that are vehemently against alcohol period, while others may demand it. Of all the decisions that are often harshly criticized by those around us, alcohol can sometimes be the most closely scrutinized. For brides who can afford to offer alcohol at their wedding, the decision can be fraught with stress, especially if you have one or more guests that you know have an alcohol problem. For some weddings, the vast majority of guests do not drink alcohol at all for reasons of faith or culture, which definitely avoids the problems that offering alcohol can cause. In my case, many of our guests DO drink, and I definitely want to have one, MAYBE two glasses of champagne, tops. As Miss Powder Puff wisely pointed out – nobody wants to see a drunky bride. No bueno. (although you are free to disagree, of course!!)
Some brides would like to offer a selection of “drinks” at their reception, but are on the tightest of budgets, and the idea of a cash bar strikes their fancy. Often these brides get the monster smackdown from other brides-in-planning. (Do NOT bring up the cash bar on The Knot Message Boards – especially the Planning & Etiquette board – if you want to escape with your life.) For me – and this is just my opinion – I have no problem with a cash bar. I understand that many brides are on a budget, especially in a difficult economy. In no way do I see a cash bar as a slight. I see it as… the bride and groom are on a budget, and they’d rather offer a way to have a beer or a glass of wine, rather than nothing at all. The whole point of a wedding is to celebrate the creation of a new family, and that should be my focus, not an opportunity to criticize their party-throwing skills. That is just my take though!
In the end, you are the only one who knows your guest list the best. You know whether your crowd would appreciate a glass of wine or a cocktail at your celebration, or whether they would prefer a “dry” reception. It’s easy to get caught up in other people’s judgments of how you should plan your wedding, but take other’s opinions with a grain of salt. Someone who opines from a wedding article in a magazine or on a wedding message board is not your friend, and they see your wedding from a purely technical point of view. Your wedding guests (hopefully) love you and attend your wedding with that viewpoint. They are not going to go crazy because you are offering a cash bar or pull out their Emily Post reference guide. Remember that when you are reading the umpteenth article or message board post on the evils of the cash bar.
On the flip side, an open bar can provide its own set of problems, most obviously intake management. For me, Mr. Dragon and I are offering an open bar – with safeguards in place (hopefully some of you will find these tips helpful!)
- The super-vast majority of our guests are responsible drinkers (we are 30, most people “settle down” on the drinking by that age.) However, when we go in for our final venue meeting, we are going to talk to our onsite coordinator about keeping people from getting sloppy – just in case. We plan to let her know that we FULLY support our bartender in cutting people off who are drinking too much. We are also going to tell her that displaying the standard sign that reads “We reserve the right to deny service” is absolutely ok by us, and we will back up the bartender if he elects to act on that policy.
- We are setting up a soda station separate from the bar, so that my 12-year-old brother isn’t going to the bar to get a Coke!!!
- Although we selected our hotel venue in an effort to make our out-of-town guests more comfy, an added bonus is that our guests that intend to drink more than a glass or two can get a hotel room. No driving required! (Thankfully, Chicago is super cab-friendly, too.)
- Another tip I would offer – and of course you have to play this strategy close to the vest to avoid hurt feelings – is to notify your bartender if “Uncle Sal” is an irresponsible drinker. Then your bartender can especially monitor the problem child’s intake to avoid any embarassing incidents. Although you may feel funny pointing one particular guest out – it’s better than the alternative; and there is no need for that guest to know he was especially brought to the bartender’s attention.
So this was a long blog post – but alcohol at weddings is a touchy subject, with many permutations. Cash bar, wine/beer bar, open bar, etc. etc. My take is… do what works for you and your crowd; be responsible; and don’t let other people make you crazy about it. Anyone have any other helpful tips for navigating this rocky road??