The costs involved in a modern day wedding can be pretty painful and one of the more expensive options is to have an open bar at the reception. An open bar is one where all the drinks are free, with the tab being picked up by the bride and groom, or the parents if they are paying for the wedding.
Thankfully, most people understand these days just how expensive this can be and come prepared to buy their own drinks. You are still likely, however, to want to supply a drink for the toast and wine to accompany any food being served.
Take the time to shop around. Check with the venue what their policy is regarding this. Some venues will insist that you use their supply, but others may be prepared for you to supply some of the wine, for instance. In this case, they may charge a fee for opening and serving the wine, known as a corkage fee, but it may still be much cheaper to go for this option.
As far as bar drinks go, if you still wanted to make a contribution, you could offer the first drink, or even the first two drinks free and then ask the guests to pay. Or, you may decide to put a time limit on the open bar, say, for the first hour.
If you think your guests may need to be told the drinks policy for your wedding, make sure you do it right from the start so there is no confusion. Perhaps on your wedding invitations you could put “Open bar for first drink” or “Open bar for first hour”. Your guests should automatically infer from this, that after that they will need to pay for their own drinks. Always try to make the wording positive rather than negative. For instance, putting the word “only” at the end of these statements, turns them from positive (hey, you get a free drink) to negative (you only get one free drink).
Whatever policy you decide, clear communication and proper planning will ensure a smooth, happy and trouble free time for your big day.
Jessica Short is a full time writer, wife and mom. She lives with her husband, Jack and daughter Freya. She writes mainly about home life and issues facing the family in the world today.