Heather and I are finally planning our wedding (thank you, thank you), but we're stuck on the point of having an open bar. Should we or shouldn't we? She says yes, I say “ehhh...” I'm not trying to be a stodgy host, but there are definitely some pros and cons to consider. If you're planning your wedding or just want some advice for when the day comes, you'll have to think about having an open bar too – and hopefully these tips will help you!
1. Pro: You're a Better Host
One of the biggest pros of having an open bar is that it makes you look like a better host, of course. Guests can resent the idea of a cash bar, because hell, who wants to pay for their own drinks, really? You've invited your guests to celebrate your big day, so it's expected that you'll go all out for them. That's understandable, to an extent, and good hosts definitely do provide plenty of food and drink to their guests.
2. Con: Your Guests Can Take Advantage
Unfortunately, some guests may take advantage of your hospitality. With a cash bar, they're responsible for their own drinks, which means they're more likely to partake less. With an open bar, there's nothing to stop them from over-indulging, which can also present a problem at the end of the night. Whatever you choose, never let your guests drive home drunk!
3. Pro: the Liquor Flows Freely
For the most part, there's no limit on an open bar. People can come back for as many drinks as they like, so the liquor flows freely and everyone has a fantastic time. Enough lubrication, and you can be sure your guests will dance all evening and really enjoy the party. Cool, right?
4. Con: the Liquor Flows Freely
Yeah, kind of. However, again, there's no limit on an open bar. That leaves room for being taken advantage of and dealing with guests who think it's a good idea to get sloppy drunk during your wedding reception. Of course, the good news is that even if you feel uncomfortable cutting off your guests, the staff at your venue and/or the bartender with your caterer will be more than happy to do so.
5. Pro: Most Venues Allow Open Bars
Heather and I are finding that, in our area of Massachusetts at least, most venues are more comfortable with an open bar than a cash bar. In fact, some of the venues we're looking at don't even allow cash bars. If an open bar is a high priority for you, this is definitely a pro.
6. Con: It Can Get Expensive
The thing is, you're covering the costs. While you can negotiate the prices with the liquor stores and vendors you work with, booze is expensive. The more your guests drink, the more you have to pay, and that may have a huge effect on your wedding budget.
7. Pro: Quicker Service and Happier Guests
Still, open bars generally ensure quicker service than cash bars. Your guests don't have to wait long to get their refreshments, which makes them happy. And happy guests make for a more rousing party, right?
Ultimately, having an open bar is up to you. However, you should always think about the people you're inviting to your reception, how they've behaved at similar events, and whether or not you can trust them not to gorge themselves silly. What are your thoughts on having an open bar at your reception? (We're going with the open bar, by the way. Yay!)