You know the old saying; “You can lead a drunk to water, but you can’t get him to drink it… or maybe it’s a horse.” Either way, moral of the story is whoever came up with that saying definitely did not use this as a proverb to describe a wedding crowd. A wedding is a celebration of a marriage between two individuals. Alcohol is a source of courage in physically expressing your excitement for that marriage through incoherent dance. If you have never been to a “dry wedding” before, they are nice but they do miss that tingling sensation in your frontal cortex that tells you anything is possible tonight.

When it comes to your wedding day, what you spend on your guests in terms of complimentary refreshments should be up to you. Now in some venues, this is not the case as they do require a certain minimum spent at the bar and it is part of their contract. This is a way to guarantee additional revenue per wedding for the venue owner. At the end of the day, it is something that you have to consider when booking a venue.

There are many ways that you can gift your guests with the nectar of the Gods. Below are some options when it comes to complimentary alcohol at a wedding:

  1. Open Bar: You as the wedding couple pay for your guests all night long, or at least for a certain length of time. Keep in mind here that even though the guests are your family and friends, they have been waiting for you to buy them a never ending bar tab for the entire time you have known each other. In other words, this will rack up your tab with the venue in a hurry as there are no holds barred in this drunk fest.
  2. Cash Bar: Your guests pay for what they want to drink. This is a very cost effective option as it is no additional cost to you. Double check with you venue on if this is allowable though. One slight caveat though; your family and friends may see you as a cheap ass and bounce to the next party earlier than expected. This is your wedding, but this is their celebration (at least in their selfish little minds).
  3. Happy Hour / Time Limit: Open Bar until a certain time and then it is cash from there. Keep in mind though that a time limit is just a deadline with a loophole. The loophole being see how much alcohol ones body can sustain until time is up. Do not use this as a method to anticipate what your alcohol bill will be as your friends and family may surprise you.
  4. Prepaid Kegs, Cases of Wine or Selected Dollar Limit: You as the couple let your wedding know how much alcohol or how much money you are willing to give out to your guests. Once this is amount is drank, it is a cash bar through the rest of the night. This is a great give and take when it comes to your gift to your guests. After so much alcohol that you paid for, most of your drinkers will not care if they have to pay to keep that buzz going and will carry out the party regardless their bank accounts. I’m sure all venues will allow you to add on during the night of your wedding but at least you know what to expect in terms of a bar bill.

Those are the main categories you can expect. Now some venues may offer tickets you can give out, some may offer items by the bottle or by the case or keg but for the most part, the above categories round out the ways to booze or not to booze.

When you visit with your venues and talk about alcohol service, be sure you know and understand their requirements. Some venues allow you to bring in your own alcohol, some venues only have 5 cheap liquors to choose from, some only carry keg beer and no craft options, and some charge extra for bartenders. Not all wedding venues are equal when it comes to serving refreshments so be sure to ask about all of the details. The biggest thing you have to ask yourself though is if you think doing the “Cha Cha Slide” is more fun with alcohol or sugar water. You be the judge.