Wedding Wednesday – No Alcohol, No Gift, No Boyfriend

by admin on September 7, 2016

I attended the wedding of a good friend this evening. I’ve just gotten home and absolutely HAD to send this story in.

My friend Mel works and her husband Grant work in IT and design fields. They are incredibly talented, producing some gorgeous work between them and because of this they decided to do a bit of a DIY wedding. It was an absolutely magical event and I could not imagine a wedding being more beautiful than theirs was. They had delicious buffet style food ranging from vegan meals, fish, chicken, beef and there was so much of it that no one went hungry, most people could fit in dessert which abundant and once again completely delicious.  Their wedding had live music and they made sure to personally thank everyone in person for attending. I’m only outlining these things to say that the wedding was wonderful and no one could complain about anything, they truly went above and beyond to ensure their wedding was enjoyable for everyone.

Now, here lies the problem. Mel and Grant tend to not drink alcohol, it’s not a secret and most people are well aware of it. Even leading up to the event Mel made sure to call every person invited and explain to them that while her and grant don’t drink that there would be a cash bar available for people who wished to drink. Everyone was happy with this level of transparency, and brought cash for the bar if they wanted to drink alcohol. Soda, alcohol free wine,  juice, coffee and tea were all available for free.

Skipping forward to the reception one rather obnoxious guest (who I later find out is Mel’s brother’s girlfriend.) is NOT amused by the idea of having to pay to get “wasted” and was heard more than once during the reception complaining loudly that the only reason she came to this crap was to get drunk on someone else’s money. She was constantly trying to get the bartender to give her free drinks or that the bride requested the bartender set up a tab that the bride will pay later. Fortunately they bartender was not foolish enough to believe it.

Then about halfway through the evening I witness this woman telling the bride it was a pathetic evening and “who ever heard of a wedding without alcohol, that’s the only reason people go to weddings.” Then she says, “I’ll be taking my wedding gift back too considering I had to buy my own alcohol”.

The bride just shrugs and walks off to enjoy her evening.

About 10 minutes later I saw the rude guest leaving, with her wedding gift in hand.

As I logged into social media upon returning home, I noticed Mel’s brother updated his relationship status to “single”.   0903-16

{ 146 comments… read them below or add one }

Just4Kicks September 7, 2016 at 4:22 am

Wow…just wow.
How classless and disrespectful!
To complain to others is so rude but to say those awful things to the bride just blows my mind.
Good for the bride who didn’t let this brat ruin her day, as well as the boyfriend who dumped her.

In my early 20’s I worked in a very small office with about ten other people.
One of the ladies was very young, and didn’t have alot of money.
I found out one night, after a few glasses of wine, she moved out of her home at 17 due to sexual abuse.
She was really nice, and was really struggling to make ends meet.
We would all bring “extras” to work for her, she was too proud to accept handouts.
As in “I made WAY too much chili!” Or “My mom gave me this sweater and its not my style” things like that.
She would every few months have home goods parties, and we all made sure we at least bought a little something.
One lady, would come to every party, and never bought a thing.
After a few of these parties, the office manager gave her a “come to Jesus” talk, and even offered her twenty dollars to buy something at “B’s” party.
Her reply? “I don’t need ANY of that CRAP “B” sells…..I come for the free food and booze, and to get the HELL AWAY from my kids and hubby for a few hours”!!!!
Okay, then….sheesh….

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stacey September 7, 2016 at 9:26 am

It was a really kind gesture to help this young woman in so many practical ways! Hope she is now living a MUCH happier life!
That said- even under these extenuating circumstances, your boss was way out of line. People who “lean” on others to buy always believe that it’s for a good cause. But you only get to decide how to spend your own money.

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Chigrrl September 7, 2016 at 9:39 am

Agreed, completely inappropriate for the manager to lecture an employee on not participating in a non-work related (e.g. optional) sales pitch. Also inappropriate of the manager to pass along what happened during a private conversation with an employee.

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Cleosia September 7, 2016 at 10:25 am

If the party is thrown to help this girl out and you don’t want to buy, then don’t attend for the “free food and booze.”

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Cass September 7, 2016 at 11:11 am

I think it’s a lot tackier to go against the expectations of a group like this, honestly. And in any event, the rude coworker didn’t plan to spend any money in any event, so she was deliberately taking food and time from the hostess when she could have achieved the same result by going to the library for a few hours.

I agree that no one is obligated to buy at those parties. But I think you are obligated to be willing to do so, and this woman wasn’t, even when the boss offered to stake her to buy something.

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Ulla September 7, 2016 at 2:28 pm

I agree with that, but if you know somebody is struggling badly and trying to make ends meet, you don’t use that kind of person to receive free food regularly. That is, if you are decent person. It’s one thing to attend party or two and realize you don’t like any of the products. But if you regularly attend the parties without any plan to buy a single thing, in this kind of situation… you (obviously general you) are being an ass.

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Betsy September 9, 2016 at 8:39 pm

Don’t you think after a couple visits if she didn’t want to buy anything, she should have declined the invitation? Maybe that is what the boss was trying to communicate. “Here’s $20 to buy something next time or if you’d rather, just stay home.”

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Becca September 7, 2016 at 1:54 pm

Oh wow, everyone could have handled that better! I think that nobody should be pressured to buy anything and tbh if the manager was going to front her $20 to buy something, just make up for the mooch the classy way, pad your own order by that much. B already knew that one lady was just a lurker, no need to pay for her to look better in the end.

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Just4Kicks September 8, 2016 at 3:21 am

Thanks to all for the comments!!! 🙂

Let me add a few things:
It was a small office, there were four of us in one room and four in the room right next to us.
There was a third room for the owner and warehouse manager.
The eight of us were in very close quarters, so if any of us weren’t getting along, our manager squashed it real quick.
We all kind of took this young gal under our wing, but I was closest in age to B and we would do things outside of the office once in a while.
I don’t know if B told anyone else about the sexual abuse, and I never said anything to the others, but everyone knew it had to be something awful for her to leave home at 17.
No, our boss shouldn’t have “forced” the rude gal to buy anything, that’s why she offered money on the sly, to buy a little something at her next party.
B always had wine and snacks at her parties, and although she never said so, we all figured she probably went without food for a few days in order to be a gracious hostess.

Side note: I have B to thank for meeting my husband of twenty years.
Our manager and her hubby, who moved from another part of the state, invited B and myself out for “the best Cheesesteaks they’ve found” in a little bar and grill after work one night…their treat.
My husband was good friends of the owner of this place and would stop in for a beer after work a few times a week.
B went up to the bar to get a soda and started a conversation with my husband.
He asked who she was there with, and after B left, came over to ask my name and if he could buy me a drink. 20 years and four kids later, we are still together.
In B’ s wedding shower card, she wrote a cute note that her gift (along with a nice gift card) to me was “the groom”!!!

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Sachie September 8, 2016 at 1:32 pm

B sounds like a lovely woman! I hope she never got wind of the mooching coworker.

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Just4Kicks September 9, 2016 at 3:14 am

B was a very smart girl, I’m sure she knew what was going on with “The Mooch”.
There was a very nice young man who worked in the warehouse that last I heard, he and B had gotten together.
I also hope she is living a happy life, she sure deserves it.

David September 7, 2016 at 5:41 am

I’m glad the bride was able to shrug it off. I’m glad her brother realized what a horrible person his GF is and broke up with her.

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Stephbwfern September 7, 2016 at 6:01 am

Wow.
What I wouldn’t give to have been a fly on the wall when that couple got home.

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DGS September 7, 2016 at 6:17 am

How awful. And how gracious of the bride to shrug it off. Thank goodness her brother dumped the witch

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FoxsPaws September 7, 2016 at 9:06 am

We’re all assuming he dumped her – she may have left of her own accord once she discovered “getting wasted” wasn’t going to be a regular component of celebrations with his family.

Somehow, I expect the bride was not entirely surprised. Anyone who would PLAN to get sloppy drunk in front of her boyfriend’s entire family had probably let her true colors show at least a few times before then.

I

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DGS September 7, 2016 at 11:09 am

Great point! She may have dumped him, although, clearly, that is for the best. Good riddance to bad garbage.

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Tara September 7, 2016 at 5:48 pm

Usually when people update their relationship status that quickly, it’s because they’re the one who did the dumping. People who have been dumped usually still hope they can patch things up and get back together, so aren’t as likely to quickly update their status. Of course, that doesn’t prove anything, it’s just more likely the brother dumped the girlfriend.

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Anonymous September 8, 2016 at 6:36 am

Or, third option–Mel’s brother and his girlfriend had a fight after the wedding, and mutually broke up.

Green123 September 7, 2016 at 6:21 am

I’ve just relayed this story of woe to my office mate and cringed at the horror of it. We have just calculated that between us, we’ve been to about 45 weddings over the last 15 years or so, and neither of us can recall more than one or two that had a free bar. It’s just not the norm in the UK, and if I am a guest at a wedding I assume there MIGHT be a welcome drink and/or a glass of wine with dinner and/or a glass of fizz for the toast, but I never assume there will be a free bar (even for soft drinks) and so I bring cash accordingly.

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Willynilly September 7, 2016 at 7:01 am

I think its regional. I worked in the party industry for over 10 years, plus have attended at least a dozen if not 2 dozen weddings in my life. Only once have I seen, as employee or guest, a cash bar.

I have seen very limited drink offerings (one wedding was soft drinks and a keg – that you had to pump yourself) but drinks are always hosted in my area.

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E.H. September 7, 2016 at 7:59 am

It’s definitely regional. Where I grew up in the NYC Metro area, open bar is king. In New England, where I got married, cash bar is the expected way to go. When my NYC Metro parents wanted an open bar, the hotel in downtown Boston where we had our wedding didn’t quite know how to handle it. I just told them to tally up what people drank and we’d pay the bill. 🙂

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Annon September 7, 2016 at 10:41 am

Yes, NYC/NY people “expect” open bar. In Boston/MA/New England – from what I understand it is very expensive to host an open bar as I think it has something to do with insurance purposes – so the hotels/wedding venues have to charge an exorbitant amount. The wedding I do go to up there – the Bride and Groom put up $2000 – and when that ran out, guests had to pay. With the crowd they had, it went fast, but guests didn’t mind. My wedding (we were married in NY) – they all came from Boston area, and were shocked to see the open bar. They all enjoyed it – no one got rip roaring drunk, and we all had a blast that night. People who go to weddings to “get hammered” are there for all the wrong reasons! What a piece of work that girl was…….but to continue to complain and then take the gift. It’s true we don’t know if he dumped her or vice versa – but either way – good riddance for him!

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Maria September 7, 2016 at 11:43 am

I live in NY and have never seen a cash bar, not even at professional events. . I hope the brother’s awful ex didn’t get into too many pictures.

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Jo September 8, 2016 at 8:31 am

I think it’s regional – London and the south-east is rare to see a cash bar, whereas up North it seems to be the norm to buy your own drinks. The only time it feels a bit stingy is when the bar seems super expensive – £8 for a spirit and mixer is expensive but I’ve had to pay it at weddings!

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Aleko September 8, 2016 at 11:51 am

“It’s just not the norm in the UK”

I don’t think that’s true at all. Not where I live and with the people I know. Apart from a few weddings given by people who just didn’t drink at all and whose family and immediate friend didn’t, and who provided soft drinks only, I’ve *never* been to a wedding where drinks at least before and during the meal and for the toasts weren’t provided as a matter of course.

What is provided during the dancing etc afterwards is a bit more up for grabs. I think anyone in my family would rather be shot than invite people to a celebration and make them pay to drink; if they’re strapped for cash they’d rather cut down on guest numbers, or fal-lals like floral decorations or wedding favours. But other people – especially people who suspect some guests may get sozzled if they can drink all evening for free – may limit the free booze, e.g. by providing beer and wine but letting people pay for spirits themselves, or just putting £X behind the bar and saying that when that limit has been exceeded anyone who wants to keep drinking can start buying.

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Louise September 9, 2016 at 8:22 am

The UK standard is to have a ‘cocktail hour’ – usually champagne/prosecco immediately after the ceremony, then wine on tables for the wedding breakfast (usually half a bottle per person, both red and white), plus champagne/prosecco for the toasts. After that you pay for yourself at the bar – also if you wanted anything different during the cocktail hour or meal (beer, spirits etc.) you would be expected to go and buy your own.

That’s how it’s gone for every wedding I’ve been to (four or five in the past four years – including my own!) All of them have been in the south of England, things may be different up north?

My understanding of American weddings is that you can drink anything you want at the expense of the host? I may be wrong, but that’s what I think when i hear ‘open bar’.

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NostalgicGal September 9, 2016 at 8:34 pm

It depends on what the HC pay to have it stocked with. Open bar is usually negotiated with the price of things and the HC pay the money amount which will cover what they wish to have stocked and the amount of alcohol. Here in the archives someone had paid for an open bar in NYC, they were both in theater, and invited friends and coworkers. They had put up enough to totally cover everything they thought ($8,000 to cover a few hundred guests). Four of their coworkers installed themselves as soon as the bar opened, drank very heavily of hard liquor, and were instrumental for the bar to shut down before the champagne toast… and nothing left to pay for the champagne. Some guests passed the hat to pay for the champagne for the toast and didn’t tell the HC until after; and the four complained loudly and bitterly about being cut off before the toast, and didn’t want to pay for any more, and were ejected finally for the fuss they made over their free booze ending.

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Liz September 7, 2016 at 7:30 am

Wow. I just have no words. Where I’m from, open bar is pretty much a requirement 🙂 as in everyone expects it, and unless any religious or other reasons preclude it, its never a question whether or not to have one, the B&G just do it, and that’s that. It would be unusual to NOT have one.

But that being said, if I were to attend a wedding with no alcohol, no big deal. I’m going to celebrate the happy couple, and hopefully have a nice time. I don’t need to drink to have that!

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Deb5521 September 9, 2016 at 10:02 am

Same thing where I’m from.

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Coralreef September 7, 2016 at 7:36 am

Seems the brother dodged a bullet. I wonder what goes on in people’s mind, I mean, “getting wasted on someone else’s money?” And I bet she can’t understand why she lost her boyfriend.

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Emmy September 7, 2016 at 7:39 am

This story makes me wonder why she was Mel’s brother’s girlfriend in the first place and why he didn’t see it coming. I would have a hard time imagining she is a person of class and manners in any circumstance. She shows herself to be a user (only cares about the wedding for what SHE can get out of it), immature, a liar, and a selfish twerp (even if she was disappointed about the lack of free booze, who would complain to the bride on her wedding day). I’m glad to hear he dumped her, I read too many stories where the family member is dating a rude SO and defends that person.

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cattlekid September 7, 2016 at 8:55 am

You wouldn’t believe the stuff that I had to hear about on my wedding day. Apparently some of DH’s family members didn’t get the memo that if something isn’t to your liking at a wedding you keep it to yourself and if something is a true problem, you get someone else to take care of it, not the bride.

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Annie September 7, 2016 at 10:37 am

I did only vegetarian food at my wedding. We spent a lot of money to make sure it was REALLY good food, and we had an open bar. About 20 people told me it was the best food they had ever had at a wedding. Aaand one person said it was terrible and refused to even try anything because he was so offended that he had to go for a few hours without eating meat.

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Ernie September 7, 2016 at 1:27 pm

I’ve been to a few weddings where I have seen people bringing up issues that they are having with the happy couple, or somethimes bringing them up with just the bride.

It is one of those things in life that make me feel like I must be from a different species. I could never imagine doing this, short of something that absolutely could not be avoided, and to me, there are almost no things that would fall into that category on someone’s wedding day.

Can’t eat the food? Tell the hosts everything was lovely, then go get a bite afterward. Don’t like the dance music? Go have a conversation with someone away from the dance floor. A hotel staff person forgot your extra pillow? Go talk to the front desk. Leave the busy, worried, stressed, happy, newly married couple out of it.

The way some people behave at weddings make me wonder if they are six year olds, and that might even be an insult to some six year olds.

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Anonymous September 8, 2016 at 10:20 am

Yeah, most six-year-olds are pretty easy to please at weddings. I mean, to them, it’s a big party where they get to dress up, maybe dance, stay up past their bedtimes, and have cake. They have simple tastes when it comes to food, they won’t care whether there’s an open bar or not, so yeah, I can see a lot of six-year-olds being better wedding guests than a lot of adults in the stories that we see on this site.

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Dee September 8, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Anonymous – Agreed. That’s why I always do an inward eye-roll when the wedding couple say they want to keep it to “adults” only, no children (except for the performers in the wedding party). They don’t want the children to ruin their sophisticated party. I have never seen children or babies ruin an event like that; their enthusiasm and joy make an often boring event much livelier. I have never been to an event, however, where at least one adult didn’t at least come close to ruining things for others. I miss the old family weddings that we used to have, instead of the glamourous red carpet affairs we see now.

NostalgicGal September 9, 2016 at 8:43 pm

And there are people with rude, ill mannered, and not taught anything different ‘speshul snowflake’ kids that are a major disruption; no matter where they go. If the HC know there’s children like that in the invite list as possible attendees they may make the wedding adult only. Else refer to the E-hell annals for the antics that can and have happened.

Just because someone has kids doesn’t mean someone else wants to have them there. For whatever reason. It’s their wedding, and their right. Respect it.

Shoegal September 7, 2016 at 7:49 am

I can believe that there are quite a bit of people who would behave so shamefully. I just recently went to a party and had to check myself. There was quite a bit of alcohol available including wine – it was a really nice party – lots of food – friendly, talkative and fun hosts. The only glasses there were these small, little, paper cups – like Dixie cups. I was eyeing up the little cup with disdain when I thought I should ask for a real wine glass. Then, I thought – no, no, no ….what are you doing – use the paper cup and be happy. I shouldn’t question what my hosts had provided. I used the cup – I lived.

In my area, there are few cash bars at weddings. The alcohol is normally provided. I know that there are different versions of this too in other areas. At my cousin’s wedding the beer and wine was provided but mixed drinks you had to pay for. It is a shame this girl went out of her way to make a complete spectacle out of herself in her quest for a free drink. It’s a wonder the brother of the bride didn’t just tell her that he’d pay for all her drinks to keep her quiet. Or dumped her sooner to get her out of there.

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Lerah99 September 7, 2016 at 1:35 pm

My parents used to do that at house parties and bbq’s.

The sodas and water were set up at one end of the house or back yard with the big red solo cups.
The beer, wine, and liquor were set up at the other end of the house or back yard with the little dixie cups.

People who drank beer just took the whole can out of the cooler. But wine and liquor went into the dixie cups.

They felt it helped people keep better track of what they were drinking so they could responsibly moderate their intake. That way, hopefully, no one would find themselves drunker than they intended at the end of the night.

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Aleko September 8, 2016 at 12:08 pm

“I shouldn’t question what my hosts had provided. ”

I couldn’t agree more. A couple of years ago one of my aunts here in the UK died, and it fell to her only daughter, who married an American and has lived in Pittburgh for more than 50 years, to deal with her affairs and organise her funeral.

Well the whole clan turned up for the funeral and to the reception afterwards, for which my cousin had booked the rooms of a local cultural society, and laid on a cold buffet. Now, we all drink as a matter of course at ordinary family get-togethers, and after quite an emotional send-off everyone was looking forward to buffering their feelings with a nice glass of wine or beer. But when we arrived in a body at the drinks table it dawned on us all that my cousin, bless her, after being away from us for so long had innocently provided a lovely selection of soft drinks only…

Nobody was going to complain to her of course, but there was a pub halfway along the street, and some quiet discussion of whether it was feasible to send a party along there to get some beer. But there was no way that Cousin Allie wouldn’t have spotted people drinking stuff she hadn’t provided, and nobody was prepared to allow her to realise, on that day of all days, that she had fouled up. So we all poured ourselves a lovely glass of elderflower pressé and made the best of it. As often before, I was made to realise how blessed I am with a thoroughly decent mob of relatives.

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barb September 7, 2016 at 7:51 am

I have been to weddings with both free bars and cash bars. What I see when the booze is free – people get a drink, take a few sips, get to talking, ice melts – oh well, get a new drink. Lots of abandoned drinks (wasted money) around.

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AnaMaria September 7, 2016 at 3:21 pm

This! I worked catering for a summer- soooooo many drinks to clean up at the end of the night.

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MississippiJoel September 7, 2016 at 7:54 am

Good for the brother. I like how a broad range of experiences can one way or another bring out someone’s true character. Good on the bride too for shrugging it off. I hope it didn’t seed in her mind at all.

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Huh September 7, 2016 at 7:54 am

I don’t drink, so I don’t pay huge attention to how often it’s at a wedding, but I would say I only really remember it being at one wedding I’ve attended, and beyond the toast it was a cash bar.

I didn’t serve alcohol at my wedding and didn’t have a big elaborate reception -it was very casual and I didn’t expect everyone to stay all afternoon – and the guests somehow survived.

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chipmunky September 7, 2016 at 8:13 am

Wow…..Mel’s brother dodged a bullet there.

I normally would side eye a cash bar (my feeling is you pay for the reception you can afford, you do not ask your guests to pay for their own food/drinks), but it appears bride and groom provided plenty of drink options free of charge, and provided an opportunity for those guests who wanted a little something extra to obtain it.

Regardless of my personal feelings on the matter, I would NEVER go around at someone’s wedding complaining that I had to buy my own drinks, alcoholic or not. My only comments to the bride would be to tell her how beautiful she looks, how happy I am for her and her new spouse, and how I’m having a wonderful time, NOT commenting on what I think of a cash bar!!

For the record, my husband and I had a luncheon reception following a morning wedding. We offered beer and wine at our reception, plus soda, juice, coffee, tea, and water. We have a couple of family members who prefer hard liquor to beer or wine. Guess what they did? They got a glass of wine to nurse, drank champagne during the toast, and if they chose to go get something stronger to enjoy at their hotel/went bar hopping later that evening, we never heard a word of it.

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OP September 7, 2016 at 8:31 am

My favorite part of the story is this line:

As I logged into social media upon returning home, I noticed Mel’s brother updated his relationship status to “single”.

That makes a happy ending!

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LadyV September 7, 2016 at 8:32 am

If the only reason you’re going to a wedding is “to get drunk on someone else’s money”, you should just stay home. If you think that the only reason OTHER people go to weddings is for the alcohol, you are at best delusional, and at worst an alcoholic. Most NORMAL people go to a wedding because they care about the bride and groom.

I do have to ask, though – where was the brother while all this was going on? And if it was a joint gift from both him and the girlfriend, why did he let her walk out with it?

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Cattra September 7, 2016 at 10:40 pm

>>I do have to ask, though – where was the brother while all this was going on? And if it was a joint gift from both him and the girlfriend, why did he let her walk out with it?

I was thinking the same thing? Did she only pay for the gift and he brought another?

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Marie September 7, 2016 at 8:56 am

Cheers on the bride for ignoring the guest, and cheers on the boyfriend for dodging a bullet.

Since a lot of people are posting what is common in their area, is there a place to share such information? I’m always curious to customs from different countries. I’m from the Netherlands myself, so a lot of American concepts such as bridal showers or baby showers are literally foreign concepts to me.

As for what is common regarding drinks in the Netherlands: a cash bar is highly uncommon. Most people offer something we call “Dutch drinks”. That means that drinks are free, and the drinks served are: soda, orange juice and apple juice, white/red whine, beer (with or without alcohol), coffee, tea and Dutch gin. Stronger drinks are not served, and are usually not brought out or the guest is informed they are not serving that drink tonight.
Usually you can also pay a fixed fee based on the amount of guests and the length of your party. This usually also includes some typical Dutch finger food, such as “bitterballen” (deep fried meat balls) with mustard, and other Dutch delicacies. You can also opt for the luxury package, that doesn’t mean cocktails, but you get the fancy finger food, for example smoked salmon on toast.
Almost all venues in the Netherlands offer this package, as it’s most commonly used and appreciated by guests. Getting drunk at a wedding is also something that’s not really appreciated. You can get drunk, but not “I’m blacking out and can’t even call a cab myself oops there goes dinner drunk”.

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Dee September 7, 2016 at 11:04 am

Marie – It’s a general rule that an invited guest is never expected to pay for anything. Cash bars might not give guests pause, depending where they live, but probably only because people have gotten used to them and not because they are acceptable. I doubt there is any culture that has, as part of its traditions, the expectation that guests pay for anything. The idea that hosts can ask guests for remuneration of the offerings is a fairly recent trend that is not approved by etiquette advisors.

The OP says that the guests were perfectly happy with the cash bar. I don’t know how she would know that, if the guests were polite (as they should be) and didn’t express their distaste for the practise.

It is only necessary to provide alcohol at an event if it is a cocktail party or a wine tasting party. Otherwise, the host(s) should only provide what they wish to and can afford. And guests should be polite and accept that with grace and gratitude, whether or not they are disappointed with the fare. The rules are very simple – host(s) provide what they can without expecting guests to pay for anything, and guests are polite and gracious in return.

I can’t speak for Canadian customs because there are so many that originate with the “home” country of the host, who may be a recent immigrant or five generation Canadian who has rarely been exposed to cultures other than their own due to their community’s singular cultural influence. Or a Canadian could be someone whose family long abandoned their roots and accepts popular culture as their influence. I grew up with family weddings with little to no alcohol ever served, every family member invited, with those inadvertently left out free to attend without an invitation. Hundreds of people at every event. The mothers and aunts made all the food days before (enough to feed an army), cold hams and turkeys and fresh buns, salads, cakes, a wedding fruitcake, coffee, tea and punch, no dancing, opening the gifts at the reception, and so on. The last 30 years most of the weddings I’ve attended have felt like hollow affairs of hot catered food, alcohol, some cash bars, no kids, and just a general showing off of money spent with little thought to family and togetherness. I suspect the old ways are gone for good, in favour of the new wedding show.

And many of those more recent weddings have been staged by Dutch immigrants. Your country’s original customs, as you describe them, sound much more appealing to me.

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AnaMaria September 7, 2016 at 3:30 pm

I come from a religious background where many weddings are alcohol-free, but the reception venue just has a public bar somewhere where guests can get a drink if they really want one. When my best friend got married, she had been abused by her alcoholic father as a child and did not want ANY intoxicated behavior at her wedding. The hotel offered to put security guards between her reception hall and the bar so that no one would sneak drinks in or come back drunk. Given the trauma in her past I think that was fine, but many people would feel that was extreme. As long as the bride and groom provide plenty of non-alcoholic beverages (soda, juice, milk- NOT just coffee and water), then I don’t see anything wrong with leaving a public bar open to the guests. Actually bringing in a bartender and set-up to a venue where it normally wouldn’t be and then charging cash is another story- huge waste of the bartender’s time!

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ALFIA September 7, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Seems I need to move to the Netherlands…fried meatballs and SMOKED SALMON!!! I’m from the USA, southern states….BBQ is the most common and norm thing here for weddings.

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Sel September 7, 2016 at 9:40 pm

Australian, and but all the weddings I’ve been to provide limited alcohol – two bottles of wine or a case of beer per table – and after that you have to pay for your own.

So you can get happily tipsy, but not drunk.

Still, a wedding is for celebrating the couple’s union, not for getting drunk for free. Some people…

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Tracy W September 8, 2016 at 12:23 am

I’m Kiwi and my experience is that non-alcoholic drinks, wine and beer are available, and bubbly is served for the toasts. There’s a full meal with tea and coffee served at the end. The meal might range from a casual BBQ to a full service four course formal affair.

There are venues that do packages like you describe, venues that let you bring in your own food or caterers, and businesses that will come to your own house/farm/etc and roast a whole lamb or even do a Maori tradition called a hangi which is a very slow way of cooking food in a hole in the ground.

An Italian friend who visited NZ noticed something I never did: that with food we generally drink either wine or beer or water, virtually never soft drinks or juices.

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Michelle September 7, 2016 at 9:06 am

Wow. Brother should have put her in a cab/taxi home when she first started complaining.

I wonder if the girlfriend is any nicer when she’s “wasted”?

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abby September 7, 2016 at 9:14 am

I will admit to always being a bit disappointed by a cash bar…generally because I don’t have cash with me ever anymore. But if I had gotten the heads up, I would have been prepared. Certainly I’ve never loudly complained about the lack of free booze, attempted to steal from the bride (telling the bartender that the bride wanted a tab opened in her name is most definitely stealing), and then confronted the bride over her “faux pas” of not providing free alcohol. I feel a bit sorry for Mel’s brother who probably got a lot of flak for bringing her.

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Chigrrl September 7, 2016 at 10:56 am

Right, I’ve been in situations where there was not a heads up about the cash bar and it was a pain as I don’t carry cash either. I think it was good to give the guests advance notice about the bar situation and hope they allowed payment by card as well.

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stacey September 7, 2016 at 9:18 am

Cash bars really ARE a DON’T. Hosts provide refreshments and whatever they select and can afford is usually well thought out and sufficient. There is NO requirement for alcohol, though wine or champagne for toasting is normal and expected. I think I get the bride’s attempt to both provide for guests and not incur a category of expense that she didn’t support. By her logic, however, couples who didn’t care for vegetables on the buffet could offer them to guests a la carte and with a small charge. Or those who dislike coffee could bring in a vendor with espresso machine and a barista who would charge for a caffeine fix. My point is, if you offer anything at a hosted event, a fee should not be paid by the guests. If you don’t offer anything (such as an open bar), that’s within your purview. (And considerate, conscientious guests would not complain, so definitely understood the brother’s decision to end things!)

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abby September 7, 2016 at 9:53 am

You have a point, but as a potential guest, I’d take a cash bar over a dry wedding, at least one that took place over the evening. A daytime wedding, on the other hand, is different.

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Chigrrl September 7, 2016 at 10:55 am

I tend to agree with you here. While it’s not appropriate for a guest to throw a fit or criticize the host, it’s in poor form to effectively charge guests.

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Lacey September 8, 2016 at 11:08 am

This exactly. Girlfriend was horrible, but cash bars will always be tacky.

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Green123 September 7, 2016 at 2:02 pm

They may be a DON’T in some places; here in the UK they are absolutely commonplace.

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Mustard September 8, 2016 at 3:35 am

Yes! We are not being rude, it’s just the British way…

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Amanda H. September 7, 2016 at 6:24 pm

As others have pointed out, some venues in parts of the US may require the cash bar option if alcohol is going to be served due to insurance or licensing purposes, too. I wouldn’t know myself as I don’t drink at all, and can only recall maybe three weddings I’ve been to (relatives who do drink) where a bar was even present, and I have no clue what kind they were.

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SamiHami September 12, 2016 at 1:15 pm

If that were the case, I would either find another venue or not serve alcohol at all. I find it hard to believe that there are insurance or licensing reasons that require a cash bar anywhere. I seriously doubt that they care who pays the bill as long as it gets paid by someone.

I agree with PPs that it is absolutely incorrect and tacky to expect your guests to pay for anything. You host the event that you can afford. If that’s a deli tray, cake and lemonade, so be it-that’s what you offer. But what you don’t do is give your guests partial hospitality. Would you give a dinner party and tell your guests they can have iced tea for free but hand them a price list for anything else? Of course not. When you are the host, your host. I know it’s become commonplace in some areas to have a cash bar, but that doesn’t make it polite.

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Lenore September 8, 2016 at 3:00 am

My wedding was a combination of cash bar and drinks provided by myself. I paid for table wine, soft drinks, juice and coffee/tea, and if guests wanted beer or hard liquor, they would go to the cash bar. The guests were informed about the cash bar though, as I also don’t carry cash and they would have had to drive 30 or so minutes to find an ATM.

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Lenore September 8, 2016 at 3:01 am

Also need to add: My wedding was a lunch time affair 🙂

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Rod September 8, 2016 at 11:00 am

Nah, completely related to the accepted etiquette of the locale. Unless you think your own way is the only right way.

I’ve attended about 3 dozen weddings in 3 continents, with very diverse people. The most potentially awkward one was the union of a raucous East Coast family (i.e. lots of drinking) with a family of Indian Muslims, most of which abstained. They made it work and was super fun. That was an open bar. I also attended a massive Italian wedding that had an open Sushi bar pre-dinner. And a Dutch Reform wedding with absolutely no alcohol served but guests were allowed to bring if desired. A couple of destination weddings with cash bars, and a few in hotels and normal venues that would run a tab for you.

They key? Clarity. The well-run ones clearly specified this in the invitation, along with other helpful items (e.g. kids allowed, type of meals available for those sensitive, etc.).

My own was kinda fun. Open bar but short on drink service (you gotta where choose your budget goes) – there was an arrangement of wine and spirit bottles at a central table where the guests were encouraged to pick their choice and take to the table. This works because it was a relatively small affair where everyone is trusted to not be a jerk. Your mileage may vary!

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YouHadMeAtBar September 7, 2016 at 9:24 am

Whether or not you drink, someone at your wedding does and providing alcohol (Free!) is proper hosting. You wouldn’t invite anyone over to your house for dinner and then charge them for a glass of wine. Same thing. You are hosting and thanking your guests with the reception and should provide alcohol. While I do think the leaving the of the wedding with the gift was a little harsh, it’s not too much to expect some drinks at a wedding for free.

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Devin September 7, 2016 at 10:12 am

Proper hosting does not require the service of alcohol. If you are invited over for dinner and the couple states we’ll be serving a multitude of NA beverages, they are being proper hosts. If you desire to have a glass of wine, ask if you can bring it and be prepared to share it with the party. The couple may have religious beliefs or health reasons to abstain or even wish to not have any alcohol in the house.
Im not 100% behind the cash bar concept, but hosting a wedding reception does not require any alcohol to make it a celebration.

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Lisa September 7, 2016 at 10:34 am

You think leaving with the gift was a “little” harsh?

Wow.

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Kate September 7, 2016 at 10:48 am

But if you don’t drink wine or almond milk, or eat caviar or what have you, you wouldn’t go out of your way to buy it for your guests. It is absolutely too much to expect free liquor at a wedding.

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Chigrrl September 7, 2016 at 10:59 am

Yeah, the guest’s behavior was really bad, but I tend to agree with you otherwise. If the couple’s beliefs prohibited the consumption of alcohol altogether, they just shouldn’t have served any.

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Anon September 7, 2016 at 11:13 am

Honestly, with someone like “girlfriend” I would never want to go to a wedding ever that provided free alcoholic drinks.

If they want to be a drunkard at a party they should pay their own way for it.

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Daisy September 7, 2016 at 11:22 am

Proper hosting may include alcohol in your circle, but it certainly doesn’t in everyone’s. At our daughter’s wedding brunch we served coffee, tea, a lovely fresh strawberry punch, and white wine spritzers. No bar was available, cash or free. At the after party in our home we served soda, wine, and beer. There were several guests who were more than capable of knocking back a 2-4 on their own, but we never heard one complaint or criticism, only compliments on the meal, the setting, and the gracious bride and groom.

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Gill September 7, 2016 at 11:30 am

So, by your logic, a dry wedding is unacceptable? If I don’t want to pay for alcohol, I don’t have to as long as I provide refreshments of some sort (which this couple did!).

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Michelle September 7, 2016 at 12:05 pm

I don’t think I have ever seen/heard of an etiquette rule that states you*have* to provide free alcohol to guests. If you are just coming for the free alcohol, why not decline the invitation and spend the cash you would have spent on travel or accommodations on alcohol?

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Amanda H. September 7, 2016 at 6:28 pm

I don’t believe there is such a rule. In fact, I seem to recall that the mailbag section on the old version of Etiquette Hell frequently had letters from people calling out the story submitters who whined about dry receptions.

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Kaykay September 7, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Absolutely agreed

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stacey September 7, 2016 at 12:59 pm

If alcohol is always requiem for proper hosting, what would you advise for Islamic,Mormon and other couples whose faith may prohibit alcohol?

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stacey September 7, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Requied, ha! Though if guests miss it’s presence, a requiem could be penned…

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stacey September 7, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Sigh… I shudda just quit… “required”

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Amanda H. September 7, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Presumably YouHadMeAtBar also thinks moral vegetarians should still provide meat dishes at their receptions too? And people who follow kosher/halal/etc. diets should provide non-kosher/halal/etc. options?

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Lerah99 September 7, 2016 at 1:48 pm

No one OWES their guests alcohol at a reception.

If the Bride and Groom don’t drink, they can simply offer non alcoholic refreshments.

If someone is unable to white knuckle it through a reception without alcohol, that’s a little concerning. That person should probably take it as a red flag if they can’t enjoy a couple of hours celebrating if alcohol isn’t in the picture.

Cash Bars have arisen as kind of a truce between “We don’t drink so why should we shell out a couple thousand dollars on an open bar?” and “Uncle Jim will have a fit if there’s no alcohol available.”

Technically, Cash Bars are a faux pas. You are correct in saying that guests shouldn’t pay for hospitality. But you are wrong in your assertion that alcohol is an integral part of hospitality.

I have been to 3 weddings where no alcohol was offered for various reasons:

One was a very simple “punch and cake” reception held in the church hall directly following the wedding.

One was a small reception in a side room at a restaurant. The fixed menu for the reception did not include alcohol. Though they did offer a choice of champagne or sparking grape juice for the toast.

One was a large reception held in a banquet hall. In that one some distant relation made a loud “What do you mean there’s no beer?” comment when he got to the drink table. But he was quickly shushed and corralled by his wife.

Each reception was really lovely and fun. There was no actual need for alcohol to make it a party.

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Amanda H. September 7, 2016 at 6:31 pm

Agreed. I may be a bit biased as I don’t drink for religious reasons, but I do worry about people who feel it’s not a party if there’s no alcohol. Plenty of people have fun parties with no alcohol all the time.

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Aletheia September 8, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Agreed as well. I abstain from alcohol for personal reasons (mainly because the thought of being drunk/not in control of my words or actions is a weird phobia of mine), and I do worry about people who think parties = alcohol. My extended family is like that, and… let’s just say family gatherings were “interesting,” to say the least.

If I ever get married, my wedding will most likely be a dry one unless the groom has strong feelings otherwise… but since that’s unlikely to happen, I won’t have to worry about it, hah.

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InTheEther September 9, 2016 at 11:23 am

I’m with you so far as the cash bar goes. It might bother me in other circumstances, but two things really take away the sting.

A) You don’t have to get any. It’s an optional extra, though with a charge. You can always forego alcohol and just enjoy the nice atmosphere, free food, free nonalcoholic drinks, music and dancing with no cover charge, company of family/people you’re familiar socially with, etc.

B) Alcohol’s expensive. Like, offering free alcohol can easily double food and drink costs. So following the rule of hosting a party you can afford, if your budget for food/drink is $xxx, you can either have 100 sober guests or 50 who are imbibing. And even then the cost may skyrocket higher than intended. With the food you can pretty accurately determine how much you need and once it’s gone people aren’t really going to complain so long as everyone got one good meal’s worth. But if you have some frat-boys that never grew up or miss’s I’m-not-an-alcoholic-cause-they-drink-beer/hard-liquor-and-I’ve-got-wine then they and others can keep drinking all night.

I’d just as soon have a dry wedding, which all the ones I’ve been to were, but there’s always that small but loud contingent that’s going to freak out and whinge incessantly at the possibility of being out past dark without at least the option of drinking.

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Huh September 7, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Really? I cannot wait to tell my friends that I drink expensive coffee drinks (‘Bux at the very least) and that I expect it to be provided to me for free from now on at all weddings and possibly at dinner parties as well, irregardless if they like coffee or not. That’s what I drink, I’m a guest, and it’s not too much to expect to have my drink of choice!

Why is that expectation any stranger than alcohol at a reception/dinner party being an absolute must, even if the host doesn’t drink? The OP said they provided soda, alcohol free wine, juice, coffee and tea. Guests had plenty of drink options, even if it wasn’t their option of choice.

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Green123 September 7, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Really? As a guest I don’t think you should ‘expect’ anything, and one’s gift is certainly not in exchange for a free feed and as much as you can drink.

I repeat – here in the UK it is *commonplace* to have a cash bar at the evening event of a wedding. It’s also commonplace for people to bring their own alcoholic drinks to a family and friends BBQ, or for people to invite people to join them for a birthday meal at a restaurant or bar and expect the guests to pay for their own food and drinks. We never expect the host to pay for absolutely everything – if that was the case, no-one would ever be able to afford to host anything at all!

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Shoegal September 7, 2016 at 2:26 pm

I too prefer an open bar but I don’t agree that just because some of the guests do drink alcohol that it should be provided. A sure bet is that all of the guests would also drink the free stuff: soda, coffee, tea, water, etc. I like the option to pay for it but I also understand that if it’s not there or available to buy – a good guest should be able to enjoy themselves without it.

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SamiHami September 12, 2016 at 1:33 pm

It is absolutely, without question, too much to expect some drinks at a wedding for free. It’s nice if the hosts choose to provide alcohol but in no way whatsoever obligatory, ever. If you are at a wedding, presumably you are there because you are happy for the couple and want to celebrate their marriage with them, not because you think you are entitled to something. If you can’t enjoy a wedding reception without scoring free booze, then you probably don’t care that much about the HC to begin with and should probably not have attended.

The only obligations the hosts have are to provide a meal if the celebration is happening during normal meal times or snacks/refreshments if it is not. And it is obligatory that whatever they choose, they pay for all of the expenses themselves, including alcohol if they do choose to make it available to their guests.

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livvy17 September 7, 2016 at 9:24 am

A host provides what the host wants to provide. That’s the rule. Guests who expect the host to provide them anything specific, whether it’s a vegan option, or booze, are rude and entitled. End of story.

Sorry that the bride had to deal with any unpleasantness on her wedding day, but on the plus side, at least she is rid of a very unpleasant potential SIL.

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Pat September 7, 2016 at 11:50 am

I agree – there is no requirement that alcohol be provided – and no explanation is necessary either. I enjoy a glass of wine myself, but it’s certainly no hardship to sip some water, a soft drink, or any other non alcoholic beverage for an afternoon or evening.

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livvy17 September 7, 2016 at 3:31 pm

Certainly, I really really like an open bar, but like you, I can live without. But if I felt I couldn’t go without…well, perhaps that’s why flasks were invented. I do think that it’s nice (though not strictly required) to let guests know, especially if what the hosts are offering is quite different from what’s common or customary.

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Susan. Haverland September 7, 2016 at 9:35 am

Really obnoxious and rude . Why was she not escorted out of the wedding earlier ??? Being rude, at start of the reception, brother she have literally taken her home and dumped her . Sounds like a wonderful expensive wedding reception. I can see why no open bar . Classy bride to shrug it off
If I don’t drink alcohol no problem with
A cash bar

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Dippy September 7, 2016 at 9:49 am

Open bar is usually the norm in my area. A few years back we went to a wedding with a 100% cash bar, including soft drinks. There was no indication on the invitation and we were not prepared with cash or an ATM card.

That made for a thirsty evening!

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Green123 September 8, 2016 at 3:04 am

Wow. So you assumed you’d have drinks provided and turned up with NO contingency plan? You’ve learned your lesson now, though.

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Queen of Putrescence September 8, 2016 at 6:15 am

I always carry cash at a wedding but I do think it’s reasonable to assume some type of beverage be provided, even if it’s just punch. But I learned my lesson early on in my early twenties going to two weddings where I was actually charged for ice water. I don’t even drink alcohol so I don’t care about the bar situation. But I think it’s at least polite to provide your guests with a beverage such as punch, lemonade or soft drinks.

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LadyV September 8, 2016 at 9:01 am

Green123: read the posting again. There were NO free beverages of any kind (except perhaps water)- even soft drinks were part of the cash bar. I don’t expect free alcohol when I go to a wedding reception, but I certainly would expect that non-alcoholic drinks would be provided for free.

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Mafdet September 8, 2016 at 12:47 pm

If an open bar is the norm in Dippy’s area, why should she have made contingency plans?
Do you think it is usual to invite your guests to a feast and provide food but no drinks, not even soft drinks?
In my opinion this is highly unusual. If a host doesn’t want to provide no beverage at all, the guests should be told so in the invitation.

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Cora September 7, 2016 at 10:07 am

Good thing she took the wedding gift with her. Who would want to write and thank you for that?

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AppleEye September 7, 2016 at 4:54 pm

^^^ this comment made me happy.

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Becca September 7, 2016 at 10:37 am

I wonder if she had gotten into a giant fight with her BF and saw the end, so she melted down in such a spectacular manner *_*

I’m glad the bride was like “LOL whatever” and enjoyed her day. I hope that the exGF grows up some day and realizes what a nasty human she was being and makes up for it in life.

Sounds like she really should not be getting drunk or was already toasted.

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NostalgicGal September 7, 2016 at 10:43 am

Mel’s brother probably knew about his GF’s need to get hammered, and knowing the bride and groom didn’t drink, have some words with GF first about reeling it in. When she continued to be a pill and tried to do things like start a tab and complain to the bride; he should have cut losses and gotten her out of there. After all GF was his +1 and GF was causing problems.

In the end, the fact the relationship didn’t last past probably the trip home in the car, Mel’s Bro is the one that dodged the bullet. Too bad GF had to be Debbie Downer at the wedding, but it sounds like things went well despite her, which is the good part.

There’s one in the wedding archives about a theater couple saving up to toss a wedding and invited their friends and acquaintances from work, and paid about $8k towards the bar for a few hundred guests. Four of these fellows bellied up and drank hard booze and drank heavily and were the main reason the bar-fund got drunk dry. So dry that when the champagne toast came around a hat was passed to pay for it, by some of the guests. The four meantime complained loudly and bitterly that they got cut off from the free booze, before the toast and that after no more booze was forthcoming unless they paid for it themselves. So much so they had to be evicted.

Also from the archives, some have been so upset about there being a cash bar instead of free, that they indeed went home with their gift in hand. So it is not only region but ‘family traditions’.

Still Mel’s brother apparently bought the clue, or ex-GF decided that there weren’t going to be more ‘funtimes’ on someone else’s nickel, that she thinks she deserves.

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Ashley September 7, 2016 at 11:01 am

This reminds me of a wedding I went to where the venue just straight up didn’t serve alcohol (I forget the reasoning behind it, something to do with the type of venue), but it actually lead to some guests leaving the wedding, going to a place that sold alcohol, and sneaking bottles back into the venue. The whole time I’m thinking to myself “holy heck you’re going to get the bride and groom in so much trouble” because the venue LEGALLY could not serve alcohol.

In the story from the OP though, I’m curious why the boyfriend didn’t like, reign it in sooner, why was she even allowed to get close enough to the bride to voice her complaints directly to her? I’m not blaming the boyfriend for his girlfriends actions for a second, but literally the moment she started I would have walked her out to the parking lot and asked her to go home.

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Cat September 7, 2016 at 11:13 am

I think that, had I been the brother, I would have escorted my date to my car, driven her home and told her our relationship had not worked out. If she lived with me, she could start packing.
I would then have returned to my sister’s reception.

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lakey September 7, 2016 at 11:14 am

First, I don’t care for cash bars. I feel that it is up to the hosts to provide whatever refreshments they choose. I would prefer a reception just have no alcohol. But that’s just me. I’ve been to receptions where there was no alcohol, and I’ve been to receptions where there was a cash bar. Both kinds ended up being lovely events.
Being at a reception where you have to share a table with people who criticize the food, availability of alcohol, or whatever, is awful. I’m glad the bride was well adjusted enough to ignore the idiot. The bride’s brother dodged a bullet on this one.

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Kaykay September 7, 2016 at 12:30 pm

While her behavior was entirely rude and in poor taste and in now way excusable, so again is having a cash bar at your wedding. The mere fact that you do not drink alcohol does not mean your guests do not. Don’t have any alcohol at all then-the cash bar assumes you are too cheap to pay for your guests to enjoy and is absolutely tacky. Outside of religious exceptions, there is absolutely no reason for this. The cash bar indicates that the exception is indeed not religious.

I’m sorry this is just not done.

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Anon September 7, 2016 at 9:59 pm

Except in places where it is done regularly, like many others have pointed out.

“It isn’t like that where I live! So it MUST not be like that anywhere else in the entire country!”

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Adereterial September 8, 2016 at 4:34 am

Exactly. In the UK cash bars are the norm – I actually think I’ve only been to one wedding where there was an open bar, which was so unusual guests were trying to hand over cash to the barmen for drinks, and several queried it with the Best Man to be sure the barmen were correct. I had a cash bar at my wedding, no one thought anything of it. Guests expect some sort of drink on arrival, something during the meal & something for the toasts, as a maximum. Weddings are expensive and it’s not considered polite, at least in my circles, to expect to be able to get trashed at someone else’s expense.

What may be an absolute no in the USA is not an absolute no everywhere. I find it extremely rude and arrogant to suggest that the USA is the sole arbiter of etiquette and manners.

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Green123 September 8, 2016 at 3:07 am

Again, just because you, personally, in your area, think cash bars are wrong or tacky, they are the norm in other parts of the US, other countries, and especially here in the UK, and I (and many others I’m sure) find the suggestion that providing a cash bar is ‘cheap’ as very offensive indeed.

To suggest that the dreadful behaviour of the woman in this story is acceptable because you think hosts should pay for every last drop of drink is astonishing.

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Kaykay September 8, 2016 at 8:22 am

While her behavior was entirely rude and in poor taste and in now way excusable…is what i had said.
Again, if you re-read what I wrote never did I say EVER this was acceptable. It is not.
In the US cash bar is frowned upon.
If you are going to hold an event like a wedding, you should take care to provide the same courtesies you would want for yourself.
In my mind hold a smaller event if you cannot or do not wish to pay for certain amenities. I don’t think it is right to shortchange your guests. The cash bar is in poor taste and better to eliminate alcohol altogether then set up a cash bar.
Alcohol is by no means required at any event. However setting up a cash bar at an event you are hosting is rude. Would you charge guests for vegan or gluten free options? Of course not. Forego the alcohol part altogether. My point is, no fees should be paid by the guests.

Many others have pointed out this is in poor taste and I tend to agree.

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Rod September 8, 2016 at 11:11 am

Nah, I’ve been to a few weddings in the US. At least one had a cash bar. Still a fun wedding.

You read, travel, and learn the world and notice that while customs may change, some people still want to be happy, some just want to complain. Some are adaptable, some can’t have a shower if they don’t have their own towel.

No fee “needs” to be paid by the guest when there’s a cash alcohol bar – you simply drink the cost-included options. I’ve done it many times simply because I’ll be in driving duties.

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Anon September 8, 2016 at 11:36 am

Again, plenty of people in the U.S. have posted that in their area cash bars are perfectly acceptable.

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magicdomino September 7, 2016 at 12:38 pm

If Mel’s brother’s girlfriend is like that when she’s sober, it’s good that she wasn’t able to get drunk. It’s even better that Mel’s brother became “single” that night.

Cash bars don’t bother me any more than “dry” celebrations do, probably because I don’t drink much myself. In other circumstances, like office parties where participants pay part of the cost, I resent open bars because that’s money that could have been spent on better food. (My division’s holiday parties would have two or three hours of open bar and just a few token platters of appetizers.)

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Amanda H. September 7, 2016 at 7:08 pm

I’m kind of with you on cash bars. I don’t drink at all, so that’s a large part of why, but it seems to me that cash bars also help people who would otherwise go overboard and get wasted to manage their drinking, because it’s on their own dollar (and to anyone who says that sodas should then be charged too, I would point out that sodas don’t have the same effect on people that alcohol does). Plus Mel made sure to let all the invitees know in advance that there would be a cash bar, which gave everyone fair warning, and provided non-alcoholic beverages for free.

I have a problem when receptions have absolutely zero beverages outside of the cash bar (as evidenced by several stories in the archives). Charge for soda? Fine, those things do cost (albeit not much). But charging for water? Especially when free tap water isn’t an option. The archives have quite a few anecdotes where the only source of beverages including water at the reception was the cash bar, meaning people who had no money on them went thirsty the whole time. That’s where it crosses the line.

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NostalgicGal September 7, 2016 at 9:47 pm

Or the cash bar is charging MORE for the soda than the booze. I’ve run into that.

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Dippy September 8, 2016 at 8:08 am

This happened to me. I was tempted to fish my envelope back out of the pile to get some cash! LOL

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NostalgicGal September 12, 2016 at 9:28 pm

In the e-hell annals, some have done that. They had a card with cash, retrieved the card, took some or all of the cash out of it to buy drinks.

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Steph September 7, 2016 at 12:52 pm

We had our wedding in the church basement (Episcopal so they allowed alcohol and dancing) because we didn’t want to go the hotel route where you have to use their caterers (at $25 a person for a generic chicken breast and steamed tasteless vegetables) and for their bartender. We got to choose our caterer (an amazing Mexican restaurant) and bought about $150 worth of alcohol at the liquor store. We asked a college kid to serve as bartender (basically just pouring drinks) and paid him $20 per hour which was a lot back then, but miniscule compared to what a hotel would have bled from us. Offering free alcohol was important to us, but I grew up in the Midwest and been to several teatotaler weddings and you just accept it and move on. Personally, I would do no alcohol or limited alcohol (like just wine) instead of a cash bar which I find to be tacky.

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stacey September 7, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Go, YOU! Sounds like your creativity prevailed over inflated wedding pricing practices!

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Pamela Love September 7, 2016 at 1:08 pm

I’m not surprised the bartender wasn’t taken in by the girlfriend’s attempts to get free alcohol. S/he has probably seen/heard them all before.

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Becca September 8, 2016 at 9:53 am

Oh yeah, anyone who’s serving knows all the tricks in the book and knows that if you give things away, that will be covered by you and in the event of a caterer situation, most likely they’d be sacked!

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Ernie September 7, 2016 at 1:10 pm

I’m not a huge fan of a cash bar either, but…

Some couples have one in an effort to save money, and some have one in an effort to keep some guests that they know are prone to this sort of thing from over-indulging. This wedding sounds like it may have been a little of both, and in the end, it looks like the happy couple was proven right. The brother’s girlfriend is obviously not someone you would want around an open bar.

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Skaramouche September 7, 2016 at 1:23 pm

Wow, OP, what a perfectly horrible guest. The ending to the story is the icing on the cake 🙂

My husband does not drink. While he is not religious, his mother is and because it’s important to her, he chooses to follow this tenet. As a result, we chose not to serve any alcohol at either of our receptions. I should note that we didn’t have a cash bar either as it was our intent to keep the events alcohol free.

The first reception was quite small and consisted of our close friends. All our guests were gracious and no one complained but I know that quite a few sneaked upstairs to get their booze fix. They did it in an unobtrusive way and there were no disruptions.

The second reception was much larger and consisted mostly of my parents’ friends. My parents were the hosts but at the request of my husband, once again there was no alcohol. Unfortunately, a guest who had invited his (not invited)girlfriend along (a story for a rainy day) decided to sneak off to the bar for some happy juice. Great…if he’s that desperate for it, it’s his prerogative. Turns out he didn’t know how much he could handle, drank way past his tolerance and made a perfect nuisance of himself through the evening.

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mm September 7, 2016 at 1:47 pm

In general I’m not a fan of cash bars at weddings. Hard liquor, fine. But wine and beer or champagne toasts should be provided. That being said, the polite thing to do is complain about it at home like a normal person. Doing it at the event (and to the couple’s face!) is really crass.

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livvy17 September 7, 2016 at 3:41 pm

Hahahaha! Complain at home like a normal person. So true. So appropriate for so many things.

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AppleEye September 7, 2016 at 1:58 pm

WTH is WRONG with this woman?!

At one wedding I attended, my husband was the best man and was seated at the head table, so I was seated at a table with a large group of single twenty-somethings. Shortly after sitting down, they realized there was no bar. Not meaning there was a cash bar; there was no bar at all. The couple’s families both included recovering alcoholics, alcohol/bartenders are expensive, the bride’s family was very religious and didn’t approve of alcohol. For these reasons they just decided to have a dry wedding. (Didn’t matter to me, I was pregnant anyway and even if I hadn’t been, hey, it’s their wedding.) The group at my table found this completely unacceptable, and two of them went to a nearby liquor store and brought back several bottles of wine and hard alcohol. Everybody at the table proceeded to get drunk and made absolute spectacles of themselves. I was so embarrassed! Later on the bride told me how people talked about that table for months, and not in flattering terms. She apologized over and over for seating me there.

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Devin September 8, 2016 at 8:10 am

I thought dates of the wedding party, especially wives, should be seated with their date. Either at the head table or at a nearby ‘backup’ table? Twice I’ve been the live-in gf of a groomsman and was seated at the head table with my date. In both cases the bridesmaids also had their non-groomsmen dates seated with them. Is this not the norm?

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wren September 7, 2016 at 4:23 pm

The girlfriend was blatantly rude. The bride handled it very well. Personally, I wouldn’t have a cash bar at a wedding reception any more than I would have a pay buffet or issue guests checks at the end of the reception! A wedding guest is an honored guest and they should not be paying for anything at when they are celebrating with me at the reception. If I can’t afford to provide it for them, I will not get around the problem by having the guests pay!

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Sally September 7, 2016 at 5:52 pm

Neither my husband nor I drink alcohol. So when we got married, we decided we didn’t want to pay for alcohol for our guests. Weddings are expensive enough without paying for drinks. So we opted for a noon wedding with a sit down dinner. There was sparkling cider for the toast. We never heard a complaint from anyone.

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kingsrings September 7, 2016 at 6:46 pm

I’ve known of many people who would find a dry wedding completely unacceptable. They’ve bragged to me about how they snuck in alcohol to wedding receptions on their own to make up for the “rudeness” of the couple not providing alcohol to their guests. It’s beyond me why anyone requires alcohol at festive events unless they’re alcoholics.
I do wonder how this works regionally. My family is from Wisconsin with some residing in Milwaukee. I can’t imagine a dry wedding there, guests would be very befuddled by that! Especially by a lack of beer!

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NostalgicGal September 7, 2016 at 9:59 pm

My Dad’s side are from an area settled by german and polish settlers. Massive amounts of alcohol was the norm. Wedding was done about 10 am, then they partied until the sun came up at least and the big heads got propped up for church. There was a small town of about 300 people, SIX bars and a lovely city/community hall in the area. If you held your reception there, the bars would pay for the hall. One I attended in the mid 1970’s was a traditional 3 day blast… they started with the wedding Friday morning and continued nonstop until the sun rose Monday. The Bride and Groom couldn’t leave either until the party was over. Only thing I can say, some of the old fashioned polkas danced they way they SHOULD be danced, will burn off a lot of alcohol… and yes, food kept getting put out, and kegs were at that end of the hall, as well as all the bars being open and FULL. Now that was old style and cultural, not a norm!!!!! I have no idea if weddings are still the same there now.

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iridaceae September 8, 2016 at 3:46 am

I’m a Wisconsinite. I have been to a dry wedding-it had something to do with the venue not being able to serve booze-and it was fine.

I work at an upscale hotel here in Arizona and cash bars are common. So are really drunk wedding guests.

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Hopeful4 September 7, 2016 at 7:55 pm

Glad the brother got smart. Too bad he did not get smart before the wedding.

As for what is required on the part of the hosting couple, if they are providing food and drink, I don’t think they are in the wrong for not providing free booze.

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Karen September 7, 2016 at 8:03 pm

I went to a vegan wedding last year. Not my favorite food, but a wedding isn’t about getting a free meal, it’s about celebrating the couple being married.

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Em September 7, 2016 at 11:00 pm

I don’t drink all that often but I have to admit that I like to indulge (in moderation) especially at weddings when everyone is riding a wave of happiness. Having said that, I see wedding invitations as someone wanting me to be part of their special day. I take that as a n honour to be part of, whether there is an open bar, cash bar, dry wedding whatever. As a guest, I don’t presume to dictate how someone should or shouldn’t honour their love, I just go along for the ride ?

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AJ September 7, 2016 at 11:34 pm

Where I’m from, if its not a cash bar, it will generally have a set amount, then pay as you go.

We had bubbles, a nice local one, on the tables for the toasts (and non-alcoholic fizzy grape juice for the kids) and a cash bar for everything else alcoholic, all soda, water, coffee and tea were made available and easy to get too, as the bar tender had rather pretty ‘displays’ of them to either end of the bar.

We knew one cousin would be ‘difficult’ about it, and I am a terrible person, as when she made a beeline to me to complain, I couldn’t help but laugh and told her how both sides of the family had a bet on for when/who/how she would complain…

I had the closest time, but I thought she would whinge at the new husband, rather than me (with me not having had a history of putting up with her) My new mother-in-law won the who, and my mother won the how – they really were chuffed with themselves…

There has been only about four wedding since ours in this family, and all of them have had cash bars, we quietly joke about having the bet on, but she hasn’t repeated that stunt, fortunately.

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Mel September 8, 2016 at 1:52 am

Hi Everyone,

I’m the “Mel” from the story! My friend sent it to me first thing this morning.

First of all, I see a couple of people saying that a cash bar isn’t something you should ever do.
As stated, my husband and I don’t drink, a lot of our friends and family don’t drink, we tried to keep the whole event family friendly as there were a lot of people under the age of 18 in attendance, however the few people who heard about it and wanted a drink explained they would have been quite disappointed if they couldn’t have an alcoholic drink on the weekend. So we paid for the bartender’s time he offered to provide all the alcohol at cost price per glass in exchange for some design work. It was exceptionally cheap and only a few people took advantage of it. We only did it because people requested it and we didn’t want people to attend an event where they couldn’t relax and enjoy themselves.

Secondly. My brother’s girlfriend. I found out later that she walked up to him and threw a huge tantrum about the alcohol situation saying she wanted to go to a bar and get trashed, that he had to take her and she was going to take her gift back. So he pulled her aside, quietly told her that this day was not about her or getting drunk, it was to celebrate Grant and myself. She kept going so he escorted her to the gift table, gave her the gift they’d both purchased and told her to leave.

The really funny part is that if she had just paid for her drinks at our wedding they would have been far cheaper than if she had gone to a bar to drink like she wanted to. My husband even offered to buy her a couple of drinks thinking maybe the issue was she didn’t bring any money. Nope, wasn’t good enough for her. She wanted free drinks whenever she wanted them and a couple of drinks wouldn’t cut it.

I think it went a lot further than just anger over free drinks, I think perhaps she was a little jealous that we got married before her and my brother did. I’m just glad my brother saw this side of her before she became more permanent in our lives.

No one else complained that I know of, and everyone I spoke to said it was a great wedding! So it truly was the best day of my life and we’ll be laughing about her antics for a long time to come.

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NostalgicGal September 8, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Well glad your wedding went well, you strolled off merrily into the sunset, your brother showed true grace, and that in the end he may have dodged a bad one. Thank you for your update.

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SleepIsabella September 8, 2016 at 8:30 am

Who would want to get drunk at a wedding? You’d be setting yourself up for major embarrassment for years to come. It’s not like at a club where everyone expects drunk behavior, you’d have a lot of judgmental eyes on you. Does she really want that kind of reputation? To be known as the drunkard at the wedding?

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iridaceae September 9, 2016 at 3:23 am

Drunks are really really common at weddings-it is a rare wedding here at the hotel that does not have drunks. You’re (general you) probably saying “not in my circle” but I bet otherwise. Granted some drunks are more memorable-like the bridesmaid who got so drunk before the reception that she took off all her clothes, then passed out in the bathroom after stumbling in there to throw up and gotten taken away by ambulance- but they’re there.

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chefnutmeg September 8, 2016 at 9:13 am

I don’t think I’ve /ever/ been to a wedding that wasn’t cash bar. Water, sodas coffee/tea, I believe wine and the toast bubbly were covered, but the hard stuff was buy what you like.
Though, all of them stated on invitation that that was the case.

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SadieMae September 8, 2016 at 2:55 pm

If Mel and Grant are recovering alcoholics (OP doesn’t specifically say so, but it’s implied), they’re probably very used to this sort of reaction from people (doesn’t make it less rude, of course!). Folks who drink too much get really, really upset sometimes when alcohol isn’t freely available at an event, not only because they want to drink, but because it suggests alcohol isn’t necessary for every person at all times, and this makes the heavy drinker think maybe his need to drink so much isn’t OK.

When I started in recovery I was surprised by how many people would really, really pressure me to drink, or would say, “Oh, I never thought you had a problem, I’m sure you can just have a glass of wine.” I think having everyone around them drinking made them feel their drinking was more normal. All you can do (besides demur) is steer clear of these people, especially early in recovery, and hope they eventually take a good look at their own dependence on booze. Sounds like Mel handled the situation perfectly by just ignoring this guest’s behavior and allowing her to go ahead and leave.

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Cheryl September 9, 2016 at 4:10 pm

LOL If anyone came to my wedding to have alcohol, they were rudely disappointed as we served no alcohol. I suspect a few people might have brought something and went outside to have a quick drink from a flask or whatever, but I don’t drink, my whole mother’s family doesn’t drink and the reception was in a Baptist church multi-function room. That alone should have clued people in that this was going to be a dry reception. We also didn’t have dancing, but in my admittedly small hometown receptions with plenty of booze and dancing into the night are not the norm. Except maybe the Catholics 🙂 And when I was in other parts of the country, I only remember one wedding with an open bar. Of course most of these weddings were 20+ years ago (including mine) so things may have changed, but not if you are on church property (once again, Catholics excluded).

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harriet September 10, 2016 at 8:32 pm

The real issue is not cash bar or no cash bar. It is the deplorable behavior of the girlfriend.
What is lost on people of her ilk is that you go to a wedding to celebrate the marriage of the couple that invited you. Yes, one can expect a certain level of refreshment. But alcohol is always optional. Kudos to the bride for letting this boor’s behavior just roll off her back.

Who knows, maybe GF was jealous because the brother had yet to pop the question…

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