What do do about bar tab?

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  • Posted: 18 Jun 2018 9:21

    What do do about bar tab?

    Hi guys,

    My very kind mum and dad have said they would pay for the bar tab at our wedding (Along with already offering to help us out with the cost massively!)

    They are very old school when it comes to this...I have said that people don't expect for their drinks to be paid for all night now...

    They said they can't possibly expect for the guest to pay for their own drinks...

    I am trying to think of a way we can offer people free drinks at the bar but maybe until a certain time/ using tokens?! Maybe offering free soft drinks all night but if people want alcohol they have to pay for it after 10pm?! 

    What are you all doing and what would you expect when attending a wedding?! 

  • Posted: 18 Jun 2018 16:14

    Re: What do do about bar tab?

    Aww that's very sweet of them!

    Personally, I wouldn't expect anything when I go to a wedding, but typically you get a welcome drink either before/after the ceremony, or both (!), plus wine on the table and fizz for toasts. That's what we will be providing. 

    I thought about putting money behind the bar, but we just don't have the budget for it. If we can stretch to it, I'm going to try and arrange for evening guests to have a welcome drink. 

    The issue with putting money behind the bar, is there's always that one person who knocks back 3 double GnT's, before your teetotal friend can get her first diet coke in! 

    If they are insistent, maybe see if they can cover/contribute to the costs of the welcome and table drinks? 

    I considered drink tokens too, and it is do-able, I just couldn't be bothered with the faff! X

  • Posted: 18 Jun 2018 17:49

    Re: What do do about bar tab?

    At our wedding we had a pay bar, and we didn't put any money behind the bar. We did provide sparkling wine and a glass each of red or white. At the vow renewal, my mum has said that people expect to pay for their own drinks nowadays, so all we will be giving is a drink for arrival. Mum assures me that's what happened at a recent golden wedding party she attended. If you think about it, what other occasion would you expect to get a free meal and free drinks?! If you can easily afford it without sacrificing anything else from the wedding, go for it, but I would be surprised if people expected it. 

  • Posted: 19 Jun 2018 6:52

    Re: What do do about bar tab?

    I wouldn’t EXPECT to get free drinks at a wedding but can appreciate when things have been provided (although I rearely ever drink myself). We aren’t going overboard will supplying alcohol and will be providing a welcome drink after the ceromony, wine on the tables during the breakfast (that will work out at around 2 glasses per guest) and that’s it for alcohol, but we are also putting tea/coffee on for after the meal. 

    ‘There will be a cash bar which people can use should they want anything else/different. 

    So, in short, I don’t think you need to provide an open bar as well. It’s kind of them to offer, but I’d perosnally ask for the money to be spent elsewhere. 

  • Posted: 19 Jun 2018 9:35

    Re: What do do about bar tab?

    How sweet of them! I think the reason it isnt the norm is just cost, and probably the fact theres always one person that goes too far. 

    If they're adamant, and your happy to, ive seen you can buy reams of vouchers (a bit like you win in an arcade) and if you havent sent the invites you could pop 3 or so in there for each guest? 

    If you have sent them, you could attach a few to the order or service? That way people get a few, which is a lovely gesture, but you arent letting it turn into a free-for-all that ends up in auntie may dancing on a table

  • Posted: 20 Jun 2018 9:04

    Re: What do do about bar tab?

    Exactly!!! I definitely know there will be a few people that will take the P*** with the free bar tab and I don't want my mum and dad to be taken advantage of as they don't have lots of money as it is!!! I am thinking of maybe getting my mum and dad to tell people who they want to have free drink a bar tab number...then that way family and family friends who my mum and dad have invited will have free drinks and friends will have to buy their drinks!!! 

    It's so hard to decide...we already have table drinks included in our package which is great :) Maybe we should have soft drinks included on the bar tab so people can have a drink but not get absolutely sloshed! Haha :) Thanks for the advice xx

  • Posted: 20 Jun 2018 22:45

    Re: What do do about bar tab?

    At my daughters wedding next year, we are providing free wine and beer along with soft drinks....Anything outside of this is down to the individual...



  • Posted: 21 Jun 2018 10:57

    Re: What do do about bar tab?

    We are providing a free bar at our wedding next year but will restrict it to beer, wine, single spirits and no shots. If people want a double then they will have to buy that themselves :) 

  • Posted: 22 Jun 2018 17:50

    Re: What do do about bar tab?

    I’m in the same boat!!! My parents think you can’t invite people if you expect them to pay!! I just don’t want people to take advantage! I have said to our venue no doubles and no shots! We have also come up with 3 cocktails/mixers (gin and tonic slice of cucumber - prosecco and elderflower and spiced rum, coke and lime) our fav drinks - which we have named after us that are going to be served and settled on a price! So will just be those 3 drinks, beer and wine! Hopefully will keep the cost down!!

  • Posted: 26 Jun 2018 21:28

    Re: What do do about bar tab?

    Like you say, I don't think people expect a free bar at all these days, but they certainly wouldn't be sad if there is one. 


    I was at quite a posh wedding a few years ago where they put a certain amount of money behind the bar and when it ran out it ran out. That's not 100% ideal, because, as you've already mentioned, some people will take advantage.. but then again I don't think it's possible to find the perfect solution here. So that could be a good compromise - your parents get to contribute as much as they feel comfortable contributing, people get some free drinks, but it doesn't get ridiculous. 

    I've also seen places where only beer wine and cider are covered by the "free bar", which you could also consider - that would stop people (such as my teenaged self and my cousins!!!) ordering two triple vodkas at a time Confused

  • Posted: 7 Aug 2018 14:01

    Re: What do do about bar tab?


    i've worked over 100 weddings and there are various approaches as other people have mentioned

    * the best way is to stop at a certain amount of money- all the bar staff are briefed and a tab is left open so they can all see the total

    * there is a "standard" in mot of the places i've worked where guests are allowed certain measures: small glass of wine, pint of beer, single shots with mixers and no rounds of shots like tequila and sours etc. 

    * tokens can be a messy approach - people think if they have two they can have a double of something, or if they pool them all together they can have a bottle of wine or prosecco or whatever 

    * if not a cash limit on the bar then a time limit is also good. 

    * make sure guests know what they can and can't order at the bar - after a few drinks i have had SO MANY arguments with guests who DEMAND a bunch of drinks at once. you can get the MC to announce it as part of the wedding speeches if you wanted them to. 

    * don't worry too much about it all. in the end, the majority of people are respectful and grateful for even one free drink! 


    hope that helps!

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