Open Bar at an Irish Wedding: A Recipe for Craic or Catastrophe?

Open Bar at an Irish Wedding: A Recipe for Craic or Catastrophe?

You've probably got a million things on your mind. The dress, the venue, the guest list... and of course, the age-old question: should we have an open bar?

Let's chat about this, shall we?

The Irish Wedding Bar: What's Normal?

First things first, if you're from abroad or have attended weddings in places like the US or Canada, you might be expecting an open bar as standard. But here in Ireland, things are a bit different. We Irish do love our drinks, don't get me wrong, but we also have a different approach to wedding bars.

Typically, at an Irish wedding, you'll find:

  • A welcome drink when guests arrive
  • Wine served with the meal
  • Maybe a drink for toasting during the speeches

After that, it's usually a cash bar. Now, I know what you're thinking – "But won't our guests be disappointed?" Trust me, they won't be. It's what most people expect at an Irish wedding.

The Open Bar Option: Counting the Cost

Let's say you're considering bucking the trend and going for a full open bar. Well, grab a cup of tea (or something stronger) because we need to talk about costs.

Here's the thing: alcohol in Ireland isn't cheap, and we Irish, bless us, can drink quite a bit at a wedding. One couple I know ended up with a bar bill of over €30,000! That's a deposit on a house in some parts of the country!

But what can you generally expect to pay for an open bar at an Irish wedding? Here's a rough breakdown:

  • On average, you might be looking at €50-€70 per guest for a full open bar.
  • For a wedding of 150 people, that could mean a bar bill of €7,500-€10,500.
  • Some venues might offer a flat rate per hour for an open bar, often ranging from €15-€25 per person, per hour.
  • Remember, these costs can skyrocket if your guests are particularly thirsty or if you're offering premium brands.

Keep in mind that prices can vary widely depending on your venue, the types of drinks offered, and how long the bar is open. Some couples have reported spending anywhere from €5,000 for a smaller wedding to upwards of €20,000 for larger affairs.

It's also worth noting that many Irish venues don't typically offer all-inclusive packages with open bars, unlike some places abroad. This means you'll often be paying for each drink consumed, which can make budgeting tricky.

So, before you decide to go all out with an open bar, it might be worth having a heart-to-heart with your bank account. After all, you don't want to start your married life with a financial hangover!

Pros and Cons of an Open Bar

Now, I'm not trying to scare you off the idea completely. There are some definite upsides to an open bar. Your guests will certainly appreciate it, and it can create a really festive atmosphere.

Plus, you won't have to worry about people holding back on the dance floor because they're watching their wallets.

But there are downsides too. Besides the cost (which is a big one), you might find that some guests overindulge. Nobody wants their beautiful wedding memories tainted by That Guy who had one too many and thought it'd be a great idea to do a striptease to "Galway Girl".

Creative Compromises

If you like the idea of being a bit more generous with the drinks but don't want to go full open bar, there are some great alternatives:

  • Limited open bar – free beer and wine, but guests pay for spirits
  • Drink tokens for each guest
  • Time-limited open bar (e.g., for the first hour after the meal)

The Bottom Line: It's Your Day

At the end of the day, remember this: your wedding is about celebrating your love with your nearest and dearest. Whether there's an open bar or not, people will have a fantastic time.

My advice? Do what feels right for you and your budget. If you do decide to go the traditional route with a cash bar, just make sure there's plenty of music, dancing, and craic. Because let's face it, that's what really makes an Irish wedding special.

So, what do you think? Are you leaning towards open bar, cash bar, or something in between? Whatever you choose, sláinte to you both, and here's to a wonderful wedding day!

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