Although a wedding reception is an event designed to focus on the marriage of two people, it’s important to maintain a lively party atmosphere in which your guests can socialize and enjoy themselves on their own. Good food and good music are essential ingredients in an evening for all to treasure, but a little social lubricant in the form of beverages doesn’t hurt either. However, some couples find it difficult to decide whether they’ll set up an open bar at their reception venue or if a different approach is more appropriate for their celebration.
Why An Open Bar?
The obvious appeal of an open bar is that your guests will be thrilled. Providing free access to drinks is a means of keeping your guests cheerful. Enjoying a drink or two can mean the difference between someone being a silent wallflower and being the life of the party on the dance floor. Particularly if you are expecting a small, manageable number of attendees, the joyous mood fostered by an open bar may make the expense worthwhile.
The obvious downside to an open bar is the expense. Depending on the number of guests you have and how inclined they are to imbibe, you could be looking at a hefty bill at the end of the night.
Alternatives To An Open Bar
A cash bar, on the other hand, is not at all the party killer that you may have been led to believe. Especially if you have a huge guest list or you’re operating on a tight budget, defraying some of your expenses by asking that everyone pay for their own drinks is perfectly acceptable, and your guests will understand. They’re your loved ones, after all! (Another advantage of a cash bar is that it is more likely to keep the guests’ drink consumption at reasonable levels, which reduces the likelihood of Uncle Earl improvising a lengthy musical toast.)
Another option to consider is a limited bar at which the guests will not have to fork over their own cash, but at which the selection of drinks is pared down from the smorgasbord of liquor an extensive open bar offers. Allowing guests to choose from a small but high-quality variety of beer, wine, and soda, for example, can be an ideal compromise that will keep your guests happy but will keep your own costs down.
If you’re still feeling unsure, a conversation with the staff of your reception venue will help you determine what type of arrangement is right for you. A popular event venue will have held hundreds of receptions, and is likely to have seen open bars, cash bars, and everything in between, so take advantage of the staff’s experience and ask questions; with their assistance, you can ensure that your wedding reception is both affordable and as special as possible.