Is it just me or do the words “open bar” instantly make you think of “Super Troopers” too? As a Wedding DJ I have mixed feelings when I hear that there is an open bar for the reception. Here are some things to consider when planning your wedding reception and you get to the part about alcohol in general.

First thing I think of when I hear that there is an open bar is, people are going to be loosened up. A loose crowd like that makes for a GREAT time, usually, for me because people are in party mode. But with an open bar there is the potential for your guests to get a little “too loose” if you know what I mean. There is one in every crowd that takes full advantage of the fact the booze is flowing freely. Those are the people that make a scene, or ruin the fun for the people around them, either by being obnoxious, or taking people away from the party because now they have to tend to that person.

If you want your guest to have a good time and are afraid that having to pay for beers will not have them stay as long (might want to look at your friends list and reevaluate if that is the case?) then there are ways to approach that. First, maybe you can do a time frame for open bar? You can say during cocktail hour drinks are on us, but after dinner then it becomes a cash bar. Another solution could be to subsidize the bar, work something out with the venue that you will pay for half or something. That way inexpensive drinks are available, but there is still something keeping the guest responsible. You could also make beer no charge but mixed drinks are normal price, which will tend to lessen the amount of harder drinks consumed. Whatever way you go, I would talk to the bartender and be very specific on how alcohol is dispensed, if you don’t want people doing shots, be very clear with him. Maybe limit your liquor choices to ones with a lower proof, so mixed drinks are limited and not as intoxicating. Eliminating higher end drinks will save you money in the long run if you decide to have an open bar after all.

While we are on the topic of alcohol and cost saving tips, maybe forget about the champagne toast? I am not saying not to toast the new bride and groom, I am saying, let people toast with whatever they want. A fair amount of people don’t like champagne, I see a LOT of it get wasted after people take a sip to toast and then the remainder of the glass is left on the table. Not to mention its just one more thing to worry about it… caterers have other stuff going on and give me a hard time about it (they won’t tell you because you are the customer… but behind the scenes they are never happy about having to interrupt dinner preparations, or serving food or cleaning up etc. to pour champagne) and if you are having your wedding party or anybody else pour it, it’s taking them away from the party. There is always the option of leaving a bottle on the table and letting your guest pour it themselves, but that opens up a whole can of worms with underage guests getting served, or the same “open bar enthusiast” taking it upon themselves to not “waste it” and finish off a bottle. My suggestion, save your money to tip your DJ, skip buying champagne and have me make an announcement for people to get something to toast with a few minutes before the toasts happen.