This weekend we finalized the menu at our reception locale. Not a big deal, we were strong armed into having prime rib (apparently wedding guests get to demand what free food they get) and who doesn't like a baked potato and corn? After that came a question that had been major discussion for us and every bride and groom for many a year, the booze.
I come from a non drinking family. Some of it might be because I am Methodist (long live the grape juice!) but I think a lot of it is just my grandfather doesn't really drink so my dad doesn't and therefor I don't. My fiance on the other hand is catholic and I've been just floored by how often they will have booze and mixed drinks or even beer for every day get togethers (to be fair we only had wine for Thanksgiving and Christmas).
Everyone loves to tell you how tacky it is to have a cash bar, you would never have guests pay for a party you throw at your house blah blah blah, but a lot of parties I've been to the pop has been free (which we get unlimited fountain drinks) and they'll have beer (we got a keg) and that's it. Maybe I don't run in the right (rich) circles but I've never been somewhere where a guest can get a $4 mixed drink that they'll just take a sip of and then leave sitting out because they didn't like it and go and get a $5 one. (No wonder open bars are so damn expensive)
Cost isn't the only issue with having an open bar, there's also the joys of a totally smashed guest. They could do anything from flashing the mother of the groom to brawling with the officiant to vomiting on the wedding cake. As if that isn't bad enough, there is also the issue of drunk drivers and the possibilty they could come back and sue you for damages.
Luckily there are millions of options for those that want to get their guests liquored up but don't want to encourage or pay for binge drinking. The first is to have as limited bar. Get a keg or two, offer up some bottles of wine for each table and then maybe make a signature cocktail. It's apparently become so popular there have been horror stories of the cocktail turning guests lips blue.
For those who don't want to come up with a signature cocktail you can also limit how many mixed drinks the guests get free by giving each guest a drink ticket (or 2 or 3) and they can get whatever they want but won't waste their drinks either (we went the drink ticket route though for a few special people we're gonna get some fancy fake booze). In the end it's also for the best to cut everyone off a good hour or two before the end so no one wraps their limo around a tree.
This huge fight about how this and that is tacky is really a pain in the ass. It does seem like anymore a lot of people view weddings as an excuse to just get really drunk on someone elses dime, and if they throw a fit because we'll only let them have a few drinks and then all the beer and pop they want well I don't think we'd really want them at our super cool reception anyway.