Now We Dance In Our Own Picture Where The Rules Have Changed

Happy New Year!  I love thinking of a new year as a blank slate.  Sure, most things will stay the same … But there are 365 days to work on changing the things you can and bettering yourself in various ways.

Don’t worry, I’ll do a New Year’s resolutions post later in the week.  (Not that anyone was actually worried about that!)  Today, however, is Wednesday … And that means I’ll be sharing a wedding-related post.

As I’ve mentioned before, I initially wanted to blog about the planning process in chronological order … As we completed a task (or were in the midst of doing so), I’d write about it.  That didn’t really happen, though (as is evidenced by the fact that I’ve been married for almost two months and am still writing about wedding planning).  Despite the fact that these posts are often all over the place, I hope someone out there might find them useful (or at least a little entertaining).  And, in all honesty, I also enjoy writing them for myself because it’s nice to look back and remember the good (and bad!) parts of wedding planning.

I’ve discussed our menu (that post can be found here: I Can’t Pretend I Don’t Need To Defend Some Part Of Me From You) and our cake tasting experience (that post can be found here: But It Was Only In My Head Because No One Ever Says What They Really Mean To Say).  Today I want to discuss the final food-related aspect of wedding planning: the bar.


Image courtesy of

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from frequenting wedding-related forums during the planning process, it’s that people have really strong opinions when it comes to bars at weddings.  For some, cash bars are the norm, while others opt for cash bars due to budget restrictions.  Some women find cash bars incredibly tacky (their word, not mine), and would rather offer nothing than ask guests to open their wallets for a drink.  While some people can afford a premium top shelf open bar for their guests, others choose to offer less expensive liquors in order to offer an open bar on a budget.  Still others will offer beer and wine only (or beer, wine, and a signature cocktail).  There’s also the fairly unpopular option of offering drink tickets so that each guest can at least have a drink or two on the hosts.  Finally, there are those who choose to offer no alcohol at all (a.k.a. a dry wedding).

I kid you not, women will literally spend hours debating cash bar vs. open bar.  (If you don’t believe me, just Google it.  I promise you’ll get a bunch of results.)

The thing is, every budget is different.  Not only that, every couple is also different.  Some couples  (and their friends and family) may not be big drinkers, so offering a premium top shelf open bar may be pointless even if they can afford to do so.  Other couples may decide that food and drink isn’t what they want to splurge on and allocate more money to other aspects of the wedding.

As I’ve said before, Eric and I felt like food and drink was very important.  We wanted our guests to have a great time, and we wanted a big part of that enjoyable experience to be tasty appetizers, a delicious sit-down meal, moist cake, and free drinks.

We didn’t have a strict budget while planning, but we also didn’t have a completely unlimited budget.  We aren’t rich, after all!  We just had a general price range in mind while planning and tried to stay within that range.  This allowed us some flexibility (instead of being stuck on a specific number as many brides and grooms seem to be).

At first, we didn’t think an open bar would be feasible.  We initially thought we’d have close to 200 guests (if everyone was able to come), and that adds up quickly!  (We ended up with a final count of around 112, so it was a much more intimate wedding than we initially anticipated … And that was exactly what we wanted anyway!  That definitely helped lower costs as well, though.)  We thought we might have to give a specific amount to go toward the bar (similar to the drink ticket idea) so that each guest could have a couple of free drinks and then would have to pay if they wanted anything else.  Neither of us really liked the idea that much since it could potentially get confusing, some people may not have cash with them, etc., but an open bar just seemed so ridiculously expensive.

After making some changes in other areas, though, and doing a lot of number crunching, we discovered that it actually wouldn’t be significantly more expensive to offer a mid-tier open bar option for our guests.  This option would allow unlimited coffee, tea, soda, wine, beer, and well drinks to all guests (21 and over for the alcohol, of course!) for 5 hours.  While we didn’t have the money for a premium top shelf bar, we could at least offer a lot of options … There would definitely be something for everyone!

(Side note: Our venue did not allow us to buy the alcohol ahead of time and bring it in ourselves.  Everything had to be purchased through them, and we also had to pay for a bartender … No self service allowed!)

Was it the cheapest option for us?  Well, obviously not.  But I don’t regret spending a little more on the bar.  I know our guests really appreciated it, and it made us feel good to be able to offer them unlimited drinks in addition to delicious food and cake throughout the reception.


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