Wedding Bar Help!

One of the decisions that Jordan and I made early on was how we wanted to handle the liquor at the wedding.  We are going to have a bottle of red and white (Copper Moon) on each dinner table and a single bottle of champagne (Segura Viudas Brut - maybe)  for toasts. So there will be lots of free drinks for supper.

We talked about having an open bar, but after this conversation with my cousin on Facebook, we decided to go with a twoonie bar.

Having every drink available for $2 will pay for the cost of the liquor.  We will still need to subsidize juice, pop and ice for the bar - but we're guessing (based on an invite list of 150 with about 120 of those that actually drink) that it will cost about $250.

I'm wondering though - if anyone reading this has either hosted a wedding or a party as big as this has some advise on running the bar.  I'm not sure what and how many types of mix we need and what core alcohols we need (keeping in mind any booze this is un-opened, we can return).

The other debate is whether we should ask the bartender to deal with all the money (and then give us the cash  less their tips at the end of the night) or ask someone else to handle selling drink tickets and then the bartender only has to deal with their tips.  My Aunt has volunteered to sell drink tickets but I think we'd need at least two people doing this.  I like the drink ticket idea because then, if we wanted, we could give our attendents a few free drinks on us relatively easily.

So - what are your thoughts?


  1. I'm not sure about how much of different liquors you need, but I know I have seen it around on the internet or in magazines - recommendations re: which kinds of liquor and how many bottles based on the number of people. I'm sure someone will be able to help you out there.

    As far as payment, I would say have someone you trust selling tickets (and maybe not a guest or have several on a schedule so they can enjoy the evening), then the bartender doesn't have to worry about making change and you don't have to worry about the bartender potentially "stiffing" you.

  2. Personally, the selling drink tickets at the wedding does not go over well at all. Makes people uncomfortable, causes you to have to pay someone or a group of someone's for their time to be there, and if it's a guest, it is like asking someone to come to a party and then not partake in the party. If you want to do a toonie bar, then talk to the venue/bartender about doing it and let them handle that.

    You could leave one ticket at each person's seat for a free drink, and then have the toonies start after that. If you do something different for your wedding party, the other guests will catch on and get them to buy drinks with their freebies for everyone else.

  3. Give everyone two drink tickets, then have them pay cash for anything else. Don't involve family in collecting money, that is kinda tacky.

  4. In my neck of the woods a toonie bar is very common and doesn't offend anyone. At my nephew's wedding there was wine on the table for the toasts. We were not allowed legally to sell the tickets AT the bar itself. A table was set up nearby and a few of the friends took turns sitting at it. Perhaps that is just a SK law though?

  5. I have a great list from my venue on the type of booze you need for a wedding (by number of guests). I've found it more helpful than most of the ones on the internet. If you'd like to see it, email me at admin@everylittlekiss.com and I'll send it to you :)

  6. I'm in Sask too and at my daughter's wedding in May, she had a toonie bar. It worked out great.. Usually your corkage charge covers all mix, ice etc. When you go to buy your liquor license, the liquor board gives you good advice on how much hard liquor and beer to buy based on average age and # of attendants. You can return any unopened bottles or cases for a refund too. All the best.

  7. I'm of the opinion that a wedding bar should be open. I've never attended a wedding where I had to pay anything for drinks.

    Personally, I would cut down the guest list to accommodate an open bar financially.

  8. If you're having a bar at your wedding get yourself to your insurance broker and ask them about a PAL policy (Party Acohol Liability). If one of your guests drives drunk & has an accident you will be included in the lawsuit as the liquour hosts. Not a great way to start you married life. The policies are a one time event policy and pretty cheap (between $100-$200 depending on number of guests). You have to purchase them BEFORE the event. You should really look into this.

  9. if you can't afford to have a wedding, then why have a wedding?? make is smaller. to ask people to come to your wedding, where they are already traveling to, and providing a gift, is stupid.

    maybe you should just do without the bar if you can't afford it or maybe make cuts elsewhere, like have an ipod play the music instead of a DJ, and then you will be able to afford the bar.

    no class is how it comes off as!!

  10. At my friend's wedding, we had to buy tickets and the drinks were $4.50 or something. There were two bottles of wine at each table. Nobody complained, that I know of.

  11. Also, the only other wedding I've been to, drinks were also full price. But yeah, places with tickets, usually the tickets are separate from the bar, so it's probably a legal thing.

  12. I know for my wedding that our parents were absolutely dead set against a cash bar. They claim it's tacky. I don't necessarily agree but I also don't necessarily disagree. So, what they agreed upon to keep costs down is they selected the liquor and beers that would be available. That way they were able to contain potential costs.
    I know that personally, I don't want to pay full price for liquor at a wedding. Mostly because I would have already bought shower gifts and wedding gifts and the outfits..etc. It seems rude to be invited to a party only to have to pay for it. But hey, most people do it so it is becoming more common

  13. Just to throw out some other alternatives, I have been to weddings where the following were done:

    (1) At one wedding, there was an open bar for a portion of the night (during the cocktail hour), wine/champagne were provided at dinner, and then it became a cash bar after dinner. This was not well advertised at this particular wedding, so it caused annoyance, but perhaps if people knew this was how it was going to operate, it could work. I think this also prevented the 20-somethings from getting as sloppy as they might have.
    (2) At another wedding, beer and wine were free, and liquor and mixed drinks were available for a price. This obviously diverts people toward drinking beer and wine, but it is another cost-saving alternative, different from drink tickets.

    Ultimately, I think the cash bar vs. open bar vs. some hybrid thereof is a very personal choice and your close friends and family will understand your decision. Do not let anonymous comments with wide, sweeping generalizations get to you!

  14. Please don't ask close friends or family to handle the drink tickets. That's either a hired person or a bar tenders job, not your invited guests. You wouldn't invite a friend over to a party, and then make them clean your house while you socialize, so why would you invite them to your wedding to sit at a table and work while everyone else has fun.


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