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We are planning our wedding with a small budget and plan to have less than 80 people attend. We are trying to save costs where we can and we are talking about having a cash bar. I can see the point of view that you shouldn't make your guests but anything at the wedding. I also see the point of view that alcohol is not a necessity for the wedding to happen. So I'm wondering if a cash bar is really taboo or if we could get away with it? Also if we went the route of supplying our own alcohol how much should we look to budget?
I don't think cash bars are taboo, I just think they are tacky. As a host you should cover all the expesnes for your guests. Coming to your wedding shouldn't become an expense to your guests (since the reception is your thank you gift to them). And I say this as.. someone who doesn't even drink. My husband and I had an open bar at our wedding and neither of us drinks, but we wanted to make sure all of our guests enjoyed their self and for some that includes a drink or 2. There are some lower cost alternatives: alcohol free beer/wine beer/wine with 1 or 2 signature mixed drinks cocktail hour only toast drink only It sounds like you are having your reception at a place where you can supply your own alcohol? Buy 1-2 bottles of the alcohol you will need a week. If you buy too much, you can return unopened bottles. If you have a Sam's club near you, you can purchase alcohol there without having a membership, there or places like costco will usually be cheaper. If you're planning/considering Keg beer. Most liquor stores who do keg beer can also do kegs of mixed drinks as well (like Rum & coke, fuzzy naval, etc). Mixed drinks that have juices in them generally will cost more (because juices are generally more expensive than soda). If you frequent a certain party or liquor store for other things, they may make a deal with you on costs as well. Here is a couple drink calculators that will give you an idea of how much you would actually need for 80 people..
When you say alcohol isn't necessary, this is totally true. But the issue has to do with making something available to your guests that you aren't paying for. It's a slightly different issue. However, are you sure you've covered all the options? For example, if this isn't a formal wedding, and you have a bar area set up, why not get a couple kegs of beer? Or some discount boxes of cheap wine? Many people do enjoy alcohol at weddings, but that doesn't mean a full range of bar options needs to be available. I'm not an expert on this, but I just don't think it would cost that much to serve beer and wine this way.
Have you talked to where you are having the reception? I got an package deal that had 4 hour open bar. If you have not booked your venue, you could look for places that have open bar. I fine that restaurant with banquet halls seem to have the best deals. I went to a wedding with a cash bar, I did not have any money with me. They were charging for non alcohol drinks as well. I found this very rude. If people know to bring cash, it could work. I do not drink. Also some place have open bar to just wine and beer. Have you have a place booked? Not all places like you bring Alcohol, some place you need to have a bartender. A lot of this all depends on what you could find. Some places give discounts on day of week or time of year. This could help you plan around any disounts
Cash bars are tacky. if you're worried about cost, get boxed wine (it tastes just fine) and a cheap champagne for the toast. for 80 guests you would need to estimate about 1-2 glasses per person. if the weather is warm, people tend to go for white wine because it's chilled, so don't waste money on a bunch of reds. get about 6-7 boxes for around $12-$18 per box (depending on your area/tax/brand) also, the later the reception, the more alcohol consumed. mid-day receptions people may have a drink, or just a sip for the toast so keep that in mind as well. hope this helps.
Every single wedding I have been to had a cash bar. They are quite common where I'm from and never heard anyone complain about them until I got on this site. So I think it's regional. Personally, I would rather have the option to buy a cocktail if I want one, than there be no alcohol at all. It's impossible to say what you should do though. Obviously you don't want to offend anyone or come off as tacky, so you are going to have to do more local research and figure out what the norm is in your area.
Would you invite people to your home and then expect them to pay for food and drinks? The same etiquette applies when you invite people to a wedding. Treat them like guests in your home, so you should not be expecting them to pay for anything. If you can't afford a full bar, offer a limited selection that you can afford, or reduce the size of your guest list. There is some cultural aspects of this. I have learned recently that this is often an accepted and expected practice in some rural communities in the Southern U.S., but it is still considered improper etiquette.
Cash bars are tacky and trashy. Offer One toast and leave it at that. Don't embarrass yourself with rude " invitations" to pay for their own fare. People will be offended and talk about it ( my husband's cousin's wedding was 6 years ago and people STILL complaint in family gatherings about the offensive cash bar and how tacky and rude it was ( even though they offered a hosted bar for the cocktail hour). In my opinion, if there is no alcohol, people won't miss it. If it is there for sale, it is not very classy. Have a toast and leave it at that. You are not obligated to buy it and selling anything at your wedding is not a good idea. Please don't.
A cash bar is Saraland is (1) the guests know in advance what to expect, and (2) it is clear that the wedding hosts aren't making any money on this. Can you get some volunteer organization like the Moose or the K of C to host a bar, with any money going to them, not to you?
Yes, it's rude. You should be providing a meal and drinks for your guests. If you can't afford it, lower the guest count.
I think if you serve champagne for toasting and 2 glasses of wine for the meal then thats fine but cocktails etc or extras should be paid for. juice and water and soft drinks should be free though.