Apart from the wedding ceremony, the wedding reception requires the most planning on the part of future bride, groom and their families. Location, the number of guests, what food to serve and how to serve it, and whether or not there will be dancing are some factors to take into consideration when planning one’s reception. Something else to take into consideration is whether or not to serve alcohol at the reception.
According to theknot.com, setting up a bar or other way of serving alcoholic beverages, takes planning. The site lists three options for serving alcohol at a reception – through an open bar, a limited bar or a cash bar. Couples with more low-key receptions could choose to have alcohol on hand for guests to serve themselves, using something like a punch bowl, or even a keg.
The open bar is the nicest way to go, according to the site. Guests are free to choose whatever suits them and having an open bar follows good etiquette for hosting a formal event. The open bar, however, also is the most expensive option, as guests can order whatever they want without limit.
When considering an open bar, the site says, one should keep in mind how much of a budget they are on, how many guests are attending and whether heavy drinkers will attend.
The next option the site lists is a limited bar, which it says is the most popular option.
With a limited bar, one purchases a selection of drinks, such as beer, soda, wine, and maybe some liquors to make a mixed drink, the site said. Then have the drinks available only at specific times, such as when the toasts are given or an hour after dinner.
The other option is to have a cash bar, which, according to the site, is the worst option because, “when you have a wedding, you’re inviting people to a party, and they shouldn’t have to pay for anything while they’re there.” The site says you should only consider a cash bar if you have a very good reason.
Erica Hutfless, senior in microbiology, said the groom’s parents traditionally take care of the bar, but for her reception, they will opt for a mix between a limited bar and a cash bar.
“I know I want to have alcohol served there,” she said. “I would like to have some free liquor provided, like a bottle of champagne at each table, and then have other things available at the bar that (guests) can pay for. That way it’s not as expensive, and people can still have something pretty traditional. ‘Cause I know if we had a free-for-all, I’d be picking relatives up off of the floor.”
For those who don’t drink alcohol, or many of their family members and guests don’t drink, another option the site lists is to have a dry reception. If only the couple doesn’t drink, they could consider having champagne available for the toasts, so guests can take part in that wedding tradition.
Britta Pederson, sophomore in animal science and industry, said she and her fiancee decided to have a dry reception.
“We decided that because we’re having our wedding at the Methodist church, and the reception is included, and it works out better for us to have a dry reception,” she said.
Pederson said she knew of a couple who had an open bar at their wedding, and the groom ended up getting drunk and ruining the night for his bride. She said she wouldn’t want her wedding to end up like that.
One concern Pederson said she had before deciding upon a dry reception was that their friends and family would think it was strange, but after talking to some friends about it, she was no longer concerned.
“(My fiance) asked one of our friends if he thought it would be weird to have a dry reception, and his friend said ‘half the world has dry receptions,'” she said. “And we’re having an early-afternoon wedding, and to get drunk that early kind of seems weird to me too.”
No matter what you choose when deciding how you want to serve alcohol at your wedding reception, the most important factors to consider are what you and your future spouse would like the most, and secondly, how much of a budget is available.
To help decide what option is most cost-effective, theknot.com recommends consulting the bartender to estimate how much the first choice will cost.
The reception can be the most fun part of the wedding, and planning ahead can make sure everything will be in place to make it unforgettable.