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I'll Toast to That!

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Guest blogger Christina Montoya Fiedler: As a wedding-goer, I've been on both sides of the drink-debate fence. I was once part of a dry wedding (as a bridesmaid with an incredibly ugly dress and ill-fitting shoes), and the apple cider in my champagne glass didn't seem to cut it. To be honest, the night just got real ugly from there. Don't get me wrong: I'm not a raging alcoholic, but it just seems that things are always a bit more festive with bubbly. Am I right? Also, remember how Jesus turned water into wine? Even he wouldn't attend a wedding without it! 

women having a party
I've also been to open-bar weddings, where people get ridiculously sloppy and someone ends up in tears or a fight sometimes breaks out (between sloshed grandmas, no less). As for my own wedding, we had two hours of open bar, complimentary wine and champagne and a cash bar for the rest of the evening. People seemed happy.

Personal anecdotes aside, CNN recently conducted a poll of 37,000 wedding attendees, who all seemed to agree that a little bit of libation at a wedding goes a long way -- and that no one should be forced to schmooze with Aunt So-and-So sans glass in hand. Here are the startling (yet laugh-worthy) results:

Are you irked if there isn't an open bar at a wedding reception? 

  • "Beer and wine are fine, so long as they keep flowing freely" -- 38 percent.
  • "A full, open bar is a must, but I understand if that's too pricey. Cash bar is fine" -- 23 percent.
  • "I get annoyed if there isn't a full, open bar. No excuse for that" -- 15 percent. 
  • "Dry weddings are just fine with me" -- 8 percent.
  • "I don't mind paying for beer and wine" -- 8 percent. 
  • "No booze, no me" -- 5 percent.
  • "A dry wedding is a pain, but I'll deal" -- 3 percent. 
Bottom line: If you want your guests to remember one thing about your wedding, don't let it be that they didn't have a good time. (We'll let you decide what that means ....) 

Moms, what is your stance on the open-bar debate?


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16 comments so far | Post a comment now
Heather September 16, 2010, 7:59 AM

When first planning our “wedding”, as we got married by the justice of the peace (for reasons i wont explain), I initially was going to have a dry wedding. After looking into options and locations recently, I will most likely have a cash bar. As the hosts of the event, should someone drink and drive, and injure or kill someone, we could be held liable. Guests could get so sloshed they ruin the event, and, quite frankly, we’d be lucky to be able to afford the affair as it is, we can’t afford to pay just as much for others to get wasted. I would hope we mean more to our friends and family than some free drinks! If you need a drink that badly, 1) you might have a problem, and 2) just be happy if someone has a cash bar! It’s the bride and grooms day, not the guests. If they need to drink that much, maybe they can foot the bill for the open bar.

Aprilcot26 September 16, 2010, 8:39 AM

When my husband and I got married we footed the bill for beer and wine along with a bottle of champagne at each table. Other than that we had a cash bar. We also rented a shuttle to take people back and forth between the reception and the hotel so we wouldn’t have to worry about drunken driving.

Robyn September 16, 2010, 8:57 AM

We were young when we got married, but still of drinking age. We provided a couple types of beer and a couple of different wine options. We did not do a cash bar. My dad was concerned that some of my now husbands friends would just start doing shots, and honestly it was our wedding, our reception, not theirs. I wanted a fun atmosphere, but not a drunken frat party. The beer and wine were a nice compromise, and everybody was complimenting what a great time they were having. Everybody seemed fine with the options we provided. The thing to remember it is your wedding day, if you want to pay for the extra hard liquor go for it. Think about the tone you want to set for your wedding as well as the guests that will be attending. If you are going to have a mature guest list then go ahead provide hard liquor or do a cash bar. We had a lot of young straight out of college and some still in college attending our wedding. It was kind of a toss up as to what could happen if people started getting to messy, so we just opted out of the hard liquor route. If providing just beer and wine alone isn’t going to cut it for some of your guests, then oh well. I think we were gracious hosts because of the options we provided and nobody complained, if they had I would have sent them on their way…. to the bar down the street. This was our wedding day.

Julia September 16, 2010, 10:48 AM

Rude and inconsiderate to invite people to a party in honor of yourselves, expecting gifts and not provide alcohol. Cash bars/no bars - selfish and tacky. If you can’t afford a wedding then just get married. But no, most people feel entitled to gifts so they throw cheap tacky parties as a gift grab for themselves

Anonymous September 16, 2010, 10:52 AM

“It’s the bride and grooms day, not the guests”

WRONG -the party/reception is for the GUESTS. If the bride and groom want to do it their way then they should do it alone!

That quote was clearly written by a bridezilla

Leah September 16, 2010, 11:11 AM

You wouldn’t host a dinner party and ask your guests to pay for beverages! You certainly should not do so at a wedding either! Plain Rude!

I’ve been to one wedding with a cash bar - so I kept the wedding card w/the cash I intended to give as a gift to use at the bar. I refuse to pay to attend YOUR wedding. If you can’t afford guests don’t invite them!

anonymous September 16, 2010, 11:13 AM

Grow up already! The point of a wedding is to celebrate that a couple is getting married. Go, give them your love, and enjoy whatever kind of party works for them - whether it’s a picnic in the park or a ballroom full of caterers. They shouldn’t ask you to pay for anything, but if they can’t afford a lot of alcohol, enjoy whatever food there is. Don’t forget, they may be going dry to prevent a problem with someone in their family who is an alcoholic. As my kids’ preschool teacher used to say: you get what you get, and you don’t get upset.

Ana September 16, 2010, 11:17 AM

“you get what you get, and you don’t get upset”

Brides and Grooms - please keep the above quote in mind when planning your reception. Keep in mind the comfort of the guests you are honoring and expecting attendance/gifts from. DO NOT DO CASH BARS/NO BARS - TACKY!! You don’t need top-shelf liquor, beer and wine are acceptable. Otherwise, you may be upset but the lack of guests

Robin September 16, 2010, 11:17 AM

We had a dry wedding as I and several members of the wedding party were not yet 21. We were also concerned with how much some of my new inlaws might choose to imbibe. Moot point. They brought flasks and drank in the parkinglot. Ugh.

Carrie September 16, 2010, 11:30 AM

As an adult who paid for my own wedding I could not imagine being so uncouth as to have a cash bar - why not just charge admission?

Anonymous September 16, 2010, 1:22 PM

I live in Saskatchewan Canada. My wedding and any that I have been to are always cash bar. Two bottles of wine on every table for free for toasting. All of the wedding party including ushers, mc ect. have free drinks. We had at our wedding 2 kinds of beer, white and red wine,rum,rye,vodka,and rum and vodka coolers.We only charged $1.00 per drink just to almost cover the cost, thats still very cheap as its cost $4.75 at any bar here a beer. We also had free drinks during our meal. Most people here don’t even feed their wedding guests, only family and wedding party.We feed 200 people but most don’t!

Krista September 16, 2010, 1:38 PM

We had a cash bar and only charged $1 a drink.We also had family walk around and hand out drink tickets to any guests that were drinking it up and to guests that weren’t drinking very much as maybe money was short.Any wedding I’ve ever attented has been cash bar and people don’t ever complain.We also handed out extra to people that were staying for clean up.

E. September 16, 2010, 2:42 PM

As a photographer who attends around 25 weddings a year, I have some advice to those planning weddings: cut the ceremony programs (nobody cares about the order of the ceremony as long as it’s under 30 minutes!), cut the cutesy favors, cut the personalized napkins (gross), and use the money you saved to give your guests a drink! At least make wine & beer available. ESPECIALLY if you are making them stand around and wait FOREVER while you finish pictures!

If you want a lot of people to dance, you need: low light & alcohol. The end…stepping off my soap box now.

CL September 16, 2010, 8:59 PM

Part of it is regional, too. Here in the south, I’ve Been to more dry weddings than wet ones.

Having been a wedding bartender at a very high end venue, I absolutely do not regret having a nearly dry wedding. Every open bar I’ve tended has had embarrassing drunks, often including the bride and groom.

I only had a chamagne toast at mine and it was otherwise fine. We’re not big drinkers, most of our family aren’t either, there are enough family alcoholics to be wary, and I didn’t want people driving drunk. As a host, it’s my job to feed you, but I consider alcohol optional.

MollyMcB September 16, 2010, 9:42 PM

I get irked when it’s a cash bar. Especially if I had to travel for the wedding. If you can’t afford an open bar (and it doesn’t have to be ‘fully stocked’ stick to a small selection of inexpensive options) than don’t but choose an appropriate plan to fit that option; a lunch or brunch wedding where you can have an open bar but people don’t drink as much so it’s cheaper.

Maman A Droit September 17, 2010, 3:25 AM

Hubby and I don’t drink at all, neither do our parents, and only 1 member of our wedding party was 21. Plus there were dozens (maybe even 50) under-21 friends and cousins also in attendance. So we had a totally “dry” wedding that reflected the tastes of us and our close friends & family-an early afternoon wedding with deli sandwiches, fresh fruit, a chocolate fountain, and fruity but non-alcoholic beverages. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. When we go out to eat or have people over for dinner we don’t have alcohol either. So I don’t think it was at all unreasonable to not have it at our wedding either.


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