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We are in the stages of planning a large wedding for 2011. Before anyone asks I am a wedding photographer and I'm booked every weekend until the end of 2010. My fiance is a surgeon and he isn't really established yet and signed a year contract with a hospital here. His schedule is really funky. Another thing is we both have large families. Our guest list is already at 650 (500 of which are actual family members) and this is right now. Who knows what it will be like in 2011. So we are taking two years to plan everything. Here are my questions. My friend just had her wedding last weekend with 800 guests and open bar. She just text ede and told me her open bar bill was $15K. I almost fainted. She is so upset and thinks the venue overcharged her. We wanted open bar, but now I'm thinking not. My question is this. Do you think it's tasteless have half open bar/half cash? Like we would have two signature drinks from the bride and groom (watermelon mojitos and blue kamikaze) wine, and beer for free and then everything else can be cash? I mean most people drink the above at weddings anyway. I've never seen people doing shots at the bar or at tables. Second question. We originally wanted a very formal adult reception. We came to an agreement because I wanted kids and he didn't want kids there. Now I'm starting to think maybe we should have a cut off time. Like no kids after 9pm or something like that. I have a daughter (not by him) and I would want her there. She will be 5, but then again, I don't think a formal reception with alcohol is a place kids need to be running around. Do you think that is reasonable? The bar is usually open before dinner and after. So I was thinking the kids could be there for dinner, but then when the bar opens again they shouldn't be there. Is that a good compromise? I know my friends and they won't be offended. In fact they might not even bring them because they want an adult night out, but I want my daughter to be a part of the reception. Tell me what yout think! Thanks!
Actually Luv2answer we are on a first name basis with everyone in our family. On my side we have family reunions twice a year and we always see each other at birthday parties, holidays, and I see about 100 of them every Sunday when my mom has her fmous Sunday dinners. His family is the same way. He knows everyone on the list and see them all the time. We just went to Tennessee to visit a lot of them on his dad's side for a weekend. I don't think it's impersonal when my side of the family are use to these big events. My uncle and aunt have 13 kids together. It's nothing major. Plus, "if you ca afford a reception for 650 you can afford full open bar is crazy" There is no way I am comfortable spending $15k on alcohol. I guess you guy are right about the kid thing. Maybe we can have kids and hope that some parents will have enough sense to leave them home or make arrangements.
My older sister isn't a big partier so she said she could already take my daughter to her hotel room after a certain time. I'm just so torn. I want kids, but I want alcohol. I don't want kids running into people with drinks or picking up half empty glasses from tables. As a matter of fact my first brush with wine was at a wedding reception when I was 7 and someone left a wine glass on the table. We snuck it under the table and passed it around.
Exactly Monty! THat's what I'm afraid of. I'm not materialistic. I'm trying not to offend people. My fiance makes much much more money than I do, but I am independent. I can take care of myself without him and I wouldn't feel comfortable spending all that money on alcohol. Even if one 1 person has a Jack and coke, they charge you for the whole bottle!
Thanks again for the answers. I thought I wanted a very formal black tie wedding 100%. Then I start talking to my MOH who has kids and she said I couldn't have an adult reception because I had a child. Then that just led to other thoughts. I've actually talked to my fiance about the open bar thing and he said it was all or nothing. So I guess we are doing full open bar. I'm not too happy about it, but he told me not to worry about the costs. And to the people who call me snobbish and selfish can go somewhere. You don't know how hard I work for my money and I should spend it how I please.
We had a much smaller wedding (55 people) with a limited open bar and the cost still came to nearly $3000. How can people drink that much in 4 hours? Holy Moly. Especially as the bar was limited to softdrinks, certain beers, certain wines and champagne. Glasses only - no bottles (i.e. wine) and no spirits. So yeah, its a tough call. People tend to go crazy when it's free. We also had a no kids policy except for immediate family - our son (10 months), my partners little brother and sister (8 and 12) and his sister's son (2). We had a couple of friends who persisted in trying to get us to allow them to bring their kids, but we were firm and said no. If it meant they weren't going to be able to come because they couldn't get a sitter or something, than we probably would have let them bring their munchkins. We weren't being nasty or rude - we wanted them to relax and enjoy the day without having to worry about watching what their little ones were getting up too, and we were also a little selfish in that we were trying to do things on a budget. I'm sorry, but kids meals cost the same as adult ones. Funnily enough - the same friends who had originally persisted actually thanked us at the end of the day for being so strict - they had really enjoyed themselves cause they could just relax! Suggestion about the open bar - either set a cash limit, or give everyone say '4' drink tokens. That way everyone's even and a few don't get rip-roaring drunk and use up the cash on the bar whilst other's are lucky to get one drink. If we had our way again, we would have done it that way....I still can't believe it.....$3000 in 4 hours.
Honestly, Where do you live? That's what really matters for this question. Where I'm from, a cash bar is a big NO-NO, completely inappropriate and not polite to do. In addition, I was personally raised to provide my guest with everything they need while I'm hosting them, so I'm always Pro-Open Bar. However, I've learned at in some areas of the country Cash Bar is complete acceptable and open bars are actually quite rare. If you happen to live somewhere like this, then go for it. It's what everyone is use to and it's what people expect. But, if you know that it's not acceptable in your region, then don't do it. In many cases, having an cash bar is seen as poor planning and a bit greedy. Again, depending on where you live. Some people would say, it's rude because you don't charge people drinks at your home, so why would you at your wedding? But, ultimately, this is up to you and what's customary in your region, social circle and family. Also, have your thought about a limited bar? Maybe just beer and wine. I think that's appropriate, since many people have no problem with only beer and wine. P.S.-The location sounds lovely. Fall is such a gorgeous time of year.
About the open/cash bar thing. I live in australia and whenever you go somewhere that has a bar tab (meaning host is paying for the alcohol) its only ever really beer and wine, spirits or anything else gets paid for by the guests if thats what they choose to drink. I've never been anywhere where i've been supplied spirits, and if i was, i would actually feel rude because they're so expensive compared to beer and wine!! As for the children thing, obviously, having a daughter you want to have kids there at some point! Even though she is your daughter if you say no to other kids, really you're gonna tick someone off if you have her there. I think the curfew thing might be alright but be prepared to loose those guests who do have kids. I have a son and if there was a curfew set on him i probably wouldn't bother making other arrangments it would be too hard, i'd just go home as well. I've been to plenty of weddings with kids, including my own son, and theres never been a problem.
Hi. On the kids, my take is that the alcohol isn't the issue. Most kids are around alcohol all the time. It's more that they completely change the tenor of an event if they're around. It will be more whacky, more informal, etc. For an evening event like the one you're describing, it sounds much nicer to make it kid-free. Never, ever rely on parents to do the sensible thing with their kids...LOL. Seriously, that would be a mistake. And your daughter isn't an issue because...well, she's your daughter. But if you do this, the way to avoid trouble is not complicate it by allowing exceptions. Your daughter is the only child there...period. Don't give in to Cousin Mary who says she can't come unless she brings her kids, etc. On the alcohol, etiquette is pretty clearcut on this: Don't make something available to your guests that they have to pay for. Beer and wine, plus champagne for the toasts, should be plenty. And if you serve those signature drinks, you're just asking for trouble with an event this large, because I guarantee people will assume they can order what they want and least a few will be annoyed that if they want hard liquor, they have to have a mojito. I'd also think more popular venues wouldn't offer this type of thing as an option (the sig drinks, I mean).
I'm not reading through all the answers, and I agree that it's NOT tacky not to have an open bar, but I don't like the idea of a cash bar, either. Either do beer wine and soda, or an open bar - don't make people pay for their drinks. HOWEVER. If your catering hall has the gall to charge you for an entire bottle for one drink, you need to seriously reconsider your venue, because that's extremely shady dealing. I've been in catering for quite a long time, and have friends who work at other catering halls as well. That is FAR from a common policy; a bar tab is run by the drink in terms of pricing (i.e., $4/house liquour drinks, $5/top shelf drinks, etc), and open bottles are used for other functions. They're certainly not opening up brand new bottles for you and discarding the remains, or sending them home with you! Please double check that facet of your bill with your venue, because that's very suspect.
I know that it might be a lot of money.......but look at it this way, how would you feel if you went to a wedding and you had to pay for your drink. My sister is getting married in October.......and i dont mean to sound sexist, and im not sure how traditional you are but the grooms parents pay for the bar.........so just to let u know. Any way i think that it is really important to have an open bar. ITs what ur guest expect. 2nd question--- My sister is having this exact problem right now as well. But her solution is to have no kids at all at the reception. And how would the kids leave the reception? You would cut ur guest in half by then. And your daughter is different....if u want her there for the second half than she should be there ! She is the brides daughter, people would totally understand if she went and no other kids could. ITs only right. And i think that it makes prefect sense to have no kids there.........people want to have fun!!!!! And honestly.....thats not gonna happen as easily when there are little kids running around. But ur daughter is diffrent.
For anyone to say it's "TACKY" to have a cash bar is being a little pompous. Especially for the size of your wedding! I'm sure your extended family realizes that a wedding should not put you into debt for your first few years together. No wonder so many newlyweds break up in the first few years. :) I think it's great that you will be offering signature drinks and wine and beer. That's more than enough, and for those with more expensive tastes... well they can just treat themselves. I've never been to a completely open bar.. I've been to drink ticket bars, toonie bars and full cash bars.. and never once did this offend me or anyone else. as far as the kids, I went through this same dilemma as my "F's" family has loads of kids... my side, not so many. We have decided to leave it up to the parents on whether or not they want to bring their children, and for those who do come, I will be supplying activity bags for them to distract the little ones. The parents will hopefully have enough sense to keep an eye on their children during the reception and remove them if they start to fuss or misbehave. You could also opt, depending on your venue, to hire an on-site nanny or two and have a games room near by. A lot of parents are nervous to leave their children alone with a stranger, but if they are close by, and the parents can check on them frequently, then that should satisfy their anxiousness, and allow them to enjoy the party. good luck and have fun planning! my wedding is in 2010 and I have already changed my mind so many times!
1. Anything with over about 300 guests is just so impersonal for your guests. There is no way, whether you are family or not, that you are on a first name basis, see them at least once a year and are in contact with 500+ people. 2. You either have kids or you don't. You can't have them for a certain amount of time and then ask them to leave. Where will they go? Their parents will have to leave early with them. 3. Either have open bar or don't but I think that the best thing to do it cut your guest list in half and provide open bar to guests. *Well, I guess if you really are on a first name basis with them. Yikes, that kind of family is my worst nightmare. Honestly. I have two parents, a sister, a few uncles and some cousins I can't stand and never have to see. We spend weekends and holidays with just our kids and sometimes grandparents and that's how I love it!!!
I think that it's a sensible idea. By providing some drinks for free you're catering to your guests needs without sending yourself into debt. Nobody can fault you that. IMO, if anyone is going to be offended then that's their problem. You're doing what you can afford and you are providing some drinks, if they don't like it then too bad. With the kids, I would wonder about how you'd get the parents to remove the kids. In the end I think that you would have guests leaving at 9pm. Why not hire a babysitter to take the kids to your sister's hotel room after 9pm? But as for the alcohol vs kids issue, ask the wait staff to keep their eyes open and if they see kids taking alcohol then they can step in and remove the glass. You could also announce (e.g. along with the "The bathrooms are over there" announcements), that because there is alcohol could everyone please keep an eye on the kids. But, at the end of the day if the kids are going to steal a glass of wine and pass it around then they're going to do it whether or not you send them to bed at 9pm and regardless of whether there's an open bar or not. I was a kid at both open and cash bars and in all honesty it never crossed our minds to steal a glass of wine, we were having too much fun with all the cousins. (Then again, we were raised with a strange attitude towards alcohol, we knew that it was for adults but our parents didn't mind if we had a sip or a small amount at fancy occasions, so it held no "thrill of the forbidden" to us). In the end you do what you can but you can't worry about everything because it's going to lead to a nervous breakdown! Good luck with everything!
I've been to weddings where there were 4 sig drinks and beer and wine and Champagne freeno other drinks, if you can have a wedding that big then you can foot the bill for their drinks, as far as there only being 2 sig drinks, well i guess that works too, and it sounds crazy with the kids half the time and the other half not, some parents will leave when their kids do. and they have to find a sitter, very odd. but it is your day.