Ask the Expert: Charging Your Guests

We have to admit, we will never cease to be surprised when this particular wedding issue comes up: the not-open bar. (Or, when a friend regales us with a story of having recently attended a wedding where word got out that only the first hour of the following reception would feature an open bar — after which, the party would play out like any other Saturday at a pay-for-your-drink establishment — which resulted in people speeding from the ceremony to the reception, tripping over each other to get to the bar, and general double-fisting and chugging (and not surprisingly, getting bombed), all in the name of not missing a single minute of the one hour of free booze.)

Thankfully, Philly has some very level-headed and experienced experts who are out there to set these brides on the path of least guest hatred — and we think this is one worth revisiting from time to time. Here, ladies, is the final verdict on charging your guests for their good time, no matter how tight your budget:

Question: Our wedding expenses are really adding up, and my fiancé and I are looking for ways to cut costs. Would it be ok to set up a cash bar at the reception?

Answer: To sum up: No, it would not be okay to set up a cash bar at the reception. “For the gracious hosts, it’s never a good idea to invite guests to share in your celebration — with some guests traveling great distances to get there — and then make them pay for a martini at the party,” says Melissa Paul, wedding planner with Philly’s Evantine Design. If you really need to cut alcohol costs, there are always other solutions, like reducing your hosted bar to serving beer and wine only, she says. Or, if you can, do beer, wine, and then one fun item, like one specialty cocktail or special station offering something like Sangria. Just don’t ask your lovely guests to shell out coin in order to toast to your happily ever after.

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