Bring Your Own Bickering: Why does everyone freak out over BYOB weddings?

June 19 | offbeatbride
Photo by Jenny GG
Photo by Jenny GG
I'm having a backyard wedding, which means I'm only having about 50 guests.

I'm considering doing BYOB for the reception, mainly because it seems easier than having to get a special event license to sell liquor. I also figure that way everyone can just bring what they like.

Would BYOB be wayyy against wedding codes and etiquette? Or would it fit with the whole intimate backyard party thing? Thoughts? Suggestions?

Ah, ye olde BYOB debate. Second to the "Are potluck weddings tacky?" debate, this is one that people have some very strong and divided opinions about. As always, at Offbeat Bride our answer to "is this tacky?" is always "It's ALL tacky — so what?" …but there are some issues at play with BYOB that are more complex than just subjective etiquette and tastefulness police.

As with so many things wedding-etiquette, there's no hard and fast rule. For an intimate wedding in your backyard? Depending on your community, BYOB could work just fine.

That said, if you're trying to save money, generally it's easier to go for a dry wedding or a limited bar (punch only! sangria only! beer only! whatever!). BYOB weddings can bring up several issues:

  • Some people just really hate the concept. For some folks, any suggestion that wedding guests bring anything other than themselves is an offensive and seen as a gift-grab. Other people see BYOB as turning your wedding into a frat party. If you go BYOB, you need to prepare yourself for the fact that someone will be upset. You don't have to agree with them, but be prepared for the blow-back.
  • If you have problematic drinkers in your community, they may drink even more than they would otherwise. With no bartender to cut them off, you may risk having Auntie Julie blacking out.
  • Make sure your venue is ok with it — if you're in your backyard, it's fine! If you're at a state park or private property, there may be laws or liability concerns to factor in.

If your primary impetus is money, consider whether there are other ways to cut costs like cake & punch (a great concept that NEEDS to make its triumphant return), or a weekday wedding.

Doing a limited bar is also a great option. You can let guests know "Wine [or beer, or punch, or one signature cocktail, or whatever else] will be provided — feel free to bring your own poison of choice if you desire!" This sets expectations about exactly what you'll be providing, empowers folks to help themselves if they want, but doesn't request that they bring anything.

Alternately, if alcohol simply isn't important to you, just say fuck it! Consider having a dry wedding. They can be truly lovely.

That said, given the right context (intimate backyard wedding with picnic seating, for instance) a BYOB wedding could feel just right. Are your friends homebrewers? Does Uncle Joe have a favorite margarita recipe everyone loves? BYOB might be perfect! As with all things etiquette, the internet can only provide so much information — ultimately, you know your budget limitations and community best.

Alright, we know you're all dying to weigh in: why does the internet love debating the concept of BYOB weddings so much?

  1. Better to have a dry wedding than to host a party like a wedding (not a house party or BBQ) and ask guests who are likely giving you a gift to help stock the bar or pay for drinks.

    19 agree
  2. I'm a big fan of dry weddings, it just seems a whole lot less complicated. But that could rub people the wrong way too. As a compromise, I think a limited bar would work well. Go simple like with a locally brewed beer and maybe a wine from Costco, or a few bottles of something nice for the toast. Then pay a bartender to serve, but make sure they're licensed. That's my opinion on it. I would personally be uneasy about BYO Booze, because of the tendency to go overboard.

    I also wanted to say that the dress in the picture is awesome. I love how the ribbon ties into the bridesmaids' dresses.

    4 agree
  3. If I were being invited to a simple backyard wedding, I wouldn't expect an open bar. I would expect a drink table with sodas, hopefully water, a couple of big drink containers of something (lemonade or punch or spiked drinks) and maybe wine. If your group of friends and family doesn't have a history of big alcoholic shebangs, they'll likely expect the same thing. I don't think it's out of line to tell guests that you'll provide some beverages and invite them to bring whatever else they want with them. I'm super picky, so I always appreciate when people give me permission to bring something. It means I'll definitely have at least one thing I'll like.

    But as OBB said, some people will have a problem with BYOB. Some people will have a problem with a dry wedding. Some people will have a problem with SOMETHING because there is always someone who has a problem with something. Always. So do what works for you and your budget.

    41 agree
  4. I'm starting to notice that no matter what kind of wedding you have, someone will get offended by some aspect of it. So, since there's no way to avoid offending EVERYONE you invite, the best you can do is avoid offending the majority. Even though I would go with a limited bar myself to avoid potential drama in my own little community of wedding guests, BYOB could totally work depending on the community… Even moreso if you're throwing a CASUAL backyard wedding. And if someone is still offended by the idea? They always have the option to RSVP "no." 🙂

    24 agree
  5. We're doing a potluck wedding, but providing beer and champagne. A few guests expressed interest in bringing additional alcoholic beverage as their potluck contributions (mostly people who don't think either of the provided beverages), and we're okay with that. No complaints on that plan of action thus far!

    5 agree
    • You could have a liquor potluck. Everyone brings their favorite beer, wine, or liquor, or just some ingredients to finish off common drinks. BYOB always seems very divided to me.

      6 agree
      • The only thing to really worry about, as I noted below, is that some folks can't bring something. Flying in – especially from abroad – you can pack bottles in your check bag but there's always the danger they'll break. And if you don't have a car/don't have time when you arrive/don't know the area/are super broke it can be tough to source alcohol.

        1 agrees
  6. My wedding is coming up on Halloween. We are getting married in a barn on his parent's property, so an intimate setting like yours as well. I am doing keg beer, wine, and an alcoholic cider (I feel it will fit for fall). I have toyed with the idea of a signature drink as well, budget permitting.
    It can be very expensive to have everything on hand for all different drinks, so I see the appeal of byob for you (trust me!). Is it possible to provide anything (like beer) and maybe word it with "Beer and non-alcoholic beverages will be served" and then they can flask it if they feel the need for something else? If you aren't selling the alcohol, I don't believe you need a license. Then you are just serving a drink to the guests in your home. I vote doing something within your means to provide a libation, but no need to go overboard. Also, if you aren't selling it then you won't need a vendor to mix it/take $$. That would provide extra cash for the beer/wine or whatever. Keeping the bar simple will allows guests to serve themselves.

    4 agree
    • Yeah, cider! There needs to be more cider (alcoholic or otherwise) at weddings! And everything else!

      11 agree
    • I had a BYOB Halloween wedding in 1998 and my invitation wording at the bottom, along with the RSVP info. read, "Bring Your Own Spirits" – it was a total hit. We had blow up skeleton/coffin drink holders and filled those with ice before anyone got to the reception so that people could put their drinks in them.

  7. Why not spin it as something like, "We love to try new drinks, so in lieu of a gift, please bring a 6-pack or bottle to share. We'll have mixers, so let's get creative!" Obviously adapt how you will. This doesn't seem like a faux pas to me, but I'm in my 20's so what do I know?

    11 agree
  8. You can have whatever mad thing you want, and put whatever responsibilities on your guests that you want, so long as you indicate to them that you're not expecting them to arrive with gifts.

    2 agree
    • Yeah, as I said in this post, basically as long as you finish every single wedding communication ever with NO GIFTS PLEASE, you should be safe from many people's ire.

      Although it can start to feel silly…
      Hey, so how's the wedding planning going?
      Pretty exciting — NO GIFTS PLEASE!
      Did you find a dress?
      I did! It's lovely — NO GIFTS PLEASE!!
      Where are you going on your honeymoon?
      Hawaii — NO GIFTS PLEASE!!!

      It starts to feel like the nervous bride's equivalent of the awful NO HOMO thing.

      14 agree
      • The "no gifts" thing backfired for mine–not only did immediate family see gifts as the only way to shower affection upon us, but once they let go of the traditional gift idea we still ended up with two giant vases and a bunch of random stuff at the wedding!

  9. I'm having a potluck bbq backyard wedding at my home and we are not drinkers by any means so we decided to go with byob. I've asked guests that if they would like alcohol, please feel free to bring their own. So far no one has said anything. Everyone invited is happy to contribute a food dish and any alcohol they want. If you want to do a byob then why not, you can't make everyone happy so you must do what makes you and your partner happy.

    7 agree
    • People might not say anything but it doesn't mean they aren't upset or annoyed by it. I'm not judging, just letting you know. I was in a wedding recently where many aspects of the wedding were not great for guests or the bridal party, but I didn't say anything. Ultimately it was their day and not mine so I went with it and didn't say anything.

      11 agree
      • I think ultimately this is the road to take. No one is going to be happy with everything about anything – the way any of us live our own life is always going to be up for debate in other people's minds, and likewise, we all privately judge one another. Unless harm or hardship is being caused in a way that raises concern, however, most people should just MYOB. You do you, essentially. If I don't like the way someone is planning a wedding, I can either excuse myself with grace, or keep my mouth shut, because it really is not about me.

        In terms of the OPs issues, if the BYOB thing skirts legal licensing in their area, I'd say go for it. If serving isn't the issue, but selling is, then I would support the "pot of spiked punch" approach, with the encouragement to bring other things, *OR* the dry wedding.

        4 agree
  10. One thing about living in Europe is people give you alcohol as gifts all the time. Since we got engaged my fiancé and I have put it all away in a "wedding booze" box and we've managed to collect four bottles of champagne and around six bottles of I wine which we think should be enough for thirty people.

    4 agree
    • yes! It's taking over my kitchen dammit… We don't drink wine! And over here if you don't ask for gifts/ expect gifts you'll still get them anyway… People get more upset when you don't want anything!

      2 agree
  11. When the "Is it Tacky?" question comes up, I always say "it depends"

    YOU know your guest list best – no one else. So start there. Does it make sense for YOUR wedding?

    My friends have offered to help stock our bar and because they're awesome they will probably do just that whether I "let" them or not (haha) I'm honestly fine with/have budgeted for buying our own beer/wine/hard liquor/mixers/ice/etc… but they're insisting so why not let them help out right? It makes them happy to be a part of our big day. That said, not all of my guests fit into this tight knit group and I wouldn't dream of asking them to BYOB. It just doesn't suit our event nor our relationship with them.

    Maybe a good alternative to having EVERY guest BYOB ask your friends and relatives who are eager to give you a hand if they can bring a bottle or two or be in charge of supplying a signature drink/keg of beer/bowl of punch (spiked or not)? For an intimate backyard party it wouldn't take much to serve everyone and I'm sure there's some folks who love you and would love to pitch in 🙂

    12 agree
  12. I think this is a 'know your audience' situation. As what seems like one of the few people who doesn't care whether or not a wedding (or any event) has alcohol (and I *do* drink), a dry wedding is fine.

    But you know your crew and for a smaller wedding, it could work.

    1 agrees
  13. Question quote: "… mainly because it seems easier than having to get a special event license to sell liquor."

    I'm confused – why do you need to sell alcohol to your own guests? Was there going to be a mobile bar service involved at some point that needs a liquor license? Or am I just in a part of the country that allows backyard booze-ups without any regulation?

    5 agree
  14. I have no problem with BYOB weddings. It lets me decide what I want to drink for the evening! However, I once went to a BYOB wedding where it wasn't really stated anywhere that it was BYOB. So the bride and groom's family were walking around with beers and stuff and the rest of us were kind of like "where can I get one of those?" That was a little awkward. Therefore I advocate being pretty upfront about it. Sure, someone is going to think it's "tacky" but there are going to be elements of every wedding that people are going to judge because they would've chosen to do it differently.

    7 agree
  15. I am struggling with a similar issue. I am having my reception at a banquet facility and my Dad, who is helping us with the costs has refused to pay for open bar because he doesn't think it's neccesary. Considering that the average age in my family is about 50 , I don't think that will be an issue. However , I am considering offering a signature cocktail for our friends who do drink. Juice , soda, coffee and tea will be offered but alcoholic drinks would have to be paid for. I've had one person whose criticized me about it but, generally I agree with my Dad in that it would be a waste of $2000 ( yes, $2000) . However I am still undecided as to if I should offer something, even if it is just a signature cocktail. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    1 agrees
    • The full open bar for my wedding next year was quoted at $4000 for 150 people, so I feel your pain! We are going to do a one hour beer and wine open bar and the rest of the night will be a cash bar, that was our compromise. People don't mind a cash bar as much if there is a champagne toast, wine on the tables, signature cocktail, or a complimentary cocktail hour. Do what works for you, but I think you have the right idea! 🙂

      2 agree
      • We had a wedding party at a gallery/cinema which had a function room and a well known unusually stocked bar and we had had two phases to the event. For the day phase, family and close friends came to the ceremony which was elsewhere and earlier and then an early evening meal at our party venue at 5.30pm. For them we bought a set number of bottles of Prosecco for when people arrived at the venue at 4pm and then a set number of bottles of wine and beer which were served with the meal. All soft drinks were on us until the evening phase. There were notices on the table explaining when each wave of free drinks arrived and we had also put this in pre-wedding communication and made sure our families understood. The bar was also open as a buy your own bar throughout for anyone who wanted to purchase the other offerings the bar was famous for.

        Then at 8pm we went into evening part and the bar just became a buy your own bar and the soft drinks tab closed. As we got married in the city in which we live and work we invited work colleagues etc to this just (buy your own) drinks and dancing part.

        This worked really well for us, we got to be generous (soft drinks are on us until 8pm! Prosecco and meal booze is on us!) but also not cripple ourselves. We felt guilty as hell about not having a totally open bar but in the end our meal booze lasted well into the evening and we didn't actually drink it all. Many day guests began buying their own drinks early on (the artisan beer aficionados with deep pockets etc) but those with less deep pockets ended up being covered drinks wise. The community we were making for this wedding (because it wasn't a pre-existing community as such) were of a huge variety of backgrounds and incomes but this approach seemed to accommodate everyone, if it didn't they have kindly kept it to themselves!

        I think whatever you do communication is key. If there is a bit where people need to pay let them know well in advance so they can have cash on them and let them know that you don't expect a gift, not that they will listen to that last part though…..

        2 agree
      • Really!?! We had a venue that allowed us to buy our own alcohol. We had to get a license but we spent WAY less than I expected on alcohol buying ourselves. The license is pretty standard and it was so much fun to use carts at the ABC store 😉

  16. My only real issue with potluck and BYOB is that it's not practical for anyone flying in – potluck has more of a tradition, old-school early 20th century weddings often were (if you don't believe me, read the wedding scene in the beginning of The Jungle), but basically impossible if you fly in and stay in a hotel room. BYOB rubs many the wrong way but is actually easier for long-distance guests.

    As someone who, if she attends a US wedding at all, flies in from Asia and generally won't rent a car (I am NOT a confident driver – it's not about being difficult; I'm not sure it's safe for me to be behind the wheel in an unfamiliar location), I just can't really do potluck or BYOB. How would I even make the dish in a hotel room? How would I get the alcohol with no car?

    Best to keep that in consideration. If you have guests coming from far away, don't do potluck or BYOB – it's not fair to them. Or exempt them from it, knowing they can't exactly whip up a ziti tray in a hotel room and may not know where to source alcohol locally.

    And what do you do about the elderly guests who aren't up to the extra task, or the cash-strapped guests who can't afford to buy anything extra?

    So I'm not morally against these ideas, but keep in mind that some loved ones may not attend if you ask them to do something they can't really do – and they may feel too embarrassed to tell you why. If you do this, you don't get to get mad when people decline because they can't meet your requests and don't have the heart to be honest about it.

    5 agree
    • I've been to plenty of potlucks that have bags of tortilla chips and jars of salsa. Or packaged brownies the bringer bought on the way to the reception. I don't think it has to mean baked-from-scratch casseroles.

      3 agree
      • The person bringing those things might feel it is inadequate or like a cop-out, though.

        But more importantly, I don't think it is fair to expect of your long-distance guests to ALSO find a way to get to a supermarket and buy those things. Especially if they don't rent a car (which I never do) and especially if the wedding is not in an urban area, and especially if they might have trouble locating the nearest supermarket (I mean finding it after finding it on a map online).

        As a wedding guest who, if I come at all, I come from a very long distance and never have my own transportation, I know firsthand how seemingly innocuous but actually very inconvenient it can be.

        I don't think it'd be enough to deter me from attending – as I said, I have no deeper or moral issues with potluck or BYOB – but it would definitely make it hard for me as the perpetually out-of-town guest. (I have actually declined wedding invitations because attending would have meant renting a car, as I didn't know anyone who could give me rides and the couple was not inclined to make introductions or help me sort it out – and I really should never be behind the wheel in unfamiliar places).

        4 agree
  17. I wanted to do a potluck reception for my wedding, but I only wanted to do it if people gave me the recipes for what they made. I figured what better way to start off my married life than with a collection of recipes that I got to try on my wedding day? Even though an out-of-town guest may not be able to BRING something, they could still contribute a recipe, right?

    But logistical concerns are totally valid. If someone was cash-strapped, they could gift the use of their kitchen for out-of-towners to make something if they wanted, or gift their taxi-service to drive people around for alcohol. Elderly guests could probably write down their best advice on how to make do in the kitchen (seriously, I need some people who grew up in the Depression to tell me how to make something out of nothing). As long as the focus remains on the people coming together to make something special and start the married couple out "right," potlucks can totally work. Then again, I could totally be talking out of my southern-church upbringing.

    2 agree
  18. To me, if you're planning on having alcohol, saying that you'll have some (alcoholic) punch on hand, basic soft drinks/juice and getting a couple of bottles of something sparkly for toasting is more than enough (although nothing wrong with going above and beyond if you have the budget and you are so inclined)

    Otherwise, making it fully BYOB is totally fine, but having a big carafe of water and perhaps some juice/iced tea/something would probably be a nice gesture.

    You may also wish to get a couple of bottles of something 'special' for toasting, even if it's totally non-alcohol.

    I will agree that as someone who enjoys a drink on special occasions, it is definitely a bit off-putting to arrive at an event with a pay bar or no bar when I was anticipating it being open-bar and therefore I wasn't able to prepare in advance sufficiently.

    If you prefer to have a fully dry wedding, you could possibly research local pubs or bistros near to your venue where guests can go buy themselves a drink afterwards as a courtesy to them.

    In my case we had some bottles of wine and bubbly for immediately after the ceremony and then went to the pub down the road for the 'reception', where everyone could buy themselves whatever they fancied!

    1 agrees
  19. I don't get the big deal with alcohol. I don't get why people feel they must drink it to have a good time and I don't get why it seems to be associated with weddings so much. I'm from a practically t-total family and my partner is a recovering alcoholic, with a wide network of AA friends who will be attending our wedding. We will also have a lot of children present from my friendship circle and if I'm honest, we don't want to spend a large portion of our small budget on something that we won't be experiencing ourselves. We'd rather put that money towards a bouncy castle and be able to put on an epic BBQ. We're providing a load of soft drinks in varying forms and anyone who feels the need to, can bring their own booze. We'll be toasting with those glass coca cola bottles 😉

    6 agree
  20. I have a question:
    When you see BYOB, do you take that to *literally* mean 'bring the alcohol that you intend to drink yourself', or more 'bring something to add to the communal drinks table' (a.k.a. 'liquor potluck')?

    The reason I ask is that here in the UK, it is totally normal to bring a bottle of wine (or a few bottles of beer) to share at any kind of home-based party (supplemented with your own choices, if you don't do wine/beer), but it's also totally normal to drink none of the wine/beer that you brought. It's just all treated as a gift to be added to the table as and when it is needed.

    I get the impression though that things might be different in the US (and elsewhere), so am curious to learn more.

    4 agree
    • I think this varies in the US. When my friends host parties normally we bring either a bottle of wine or a case of beer or something like that with us, and they do the same when they come to visit us. It's all communal once it's there and any leftovers are property of the hosts. I think that's fairly standard practice for house parties.

      Some restaurants are BYOB here and then, of course, you would only be bringing beer or wine for yourself.

      4 agree
    • I'm under the impression that bringing anything with you to a party or gathering at someone's house is a custom that has died here. Every time I've gone to a party or met up with friends in their home or my home, the only people who bring anything are the ones the host specifically asks to bring something. I generally try to ask if they want me to bring anything or I bring baked goods, but showing up empty-handed is more the norm now.

  21. You are not required to provide alcohol for your guests. There are all kinds of reasons not to do it. If you want the option of guests bringing their own, then do it (just make sure it is plain to the guests beforehand.) The "rules of etiquette" for weddings were never written in stone and were only truly followed by those who were willing and able to spend more than a little money and most of those rules fell out of fashion years ago.

    If you learn nothing else from this site, learn that it is your wedding and you can do what you want.

    I grew up with punch and cake (and maybe coffee) receptions even for evening weddings. A fancy wedding was one that included pastel colored mints to match the bridesmaids dresses. A pricey wedding also had a dish of mixed nuts that included cashews and Brazil nuts.

    This is supposed to be a gathering to celebrate the union of two people. It is not a competition or a test or an entitlement to your guests. If they don't like what you offer at the celebration, that really is their issue and not yours.

    15 agree
  22. We're holding our wedding in my parents garden and are doing a mixture of BYOB and providing drinks.

    We've brewed our own beer using a store bought kit and it's been cost effective fun bottling and branding our drinks – an IPA called 'Something Borrowed, Something Brewed' and a lager 'Yes Dear Beer'. We're also providing a small selection of cider and 2 cocktails that we plan to pre mix. Of course there will also be a large variety of soft drinks provided too.

    On our invites we've said that whilst we will be providing some drinks and nibbles that guest should feel free to bring their favourite tipple – subtle but suggesting that we won't have a free for all student party going on!

    We are on a fairly tight budget so I think most guests understand that we can't provide a fully blown bar but this way I think we're saving on any embarrassment from either party.

  23. Everyone has there favorite "if there were one wedding tradition to get rid of…" and mine would be the association people have to drink in excess at weddings. Why people still think in 2014 that it is okay to get fall-down drunk, annoy all of the other guests at the reception, and then drive drunk after a wedding is frustrating to see every week if you work in this industry. At a private home, depending on where you live, you may have the same legal liabilities that any venue also faces if someone drinks in excess at your wedding causes harm to anyone attending the wedding (think physical fights with others and falling over and knocking stuff down), or after they leave and are drunk driving on the streets. Getting the "social host liability" insurance anyway (they combine BYOB with "served not sold" option) to cover you is generally recommended. It costs about $175 for $1 million insurance, depending on your state. If you are having a full-service offsite caterer to handle food, rentals and set up of your reception at your home, with a bartender hired to serve guests, their company should also have dram shop liquor liability insurance, so in that case you could get by without also getting host insurance for yourself, even though it is still recommended anyway. Some caterers will allow you to buy the alcohol and they will serve it. In that case see if they will offer a "mixers only" package for the bar. This is all of the soft drinks and non-alcohol stuff you need in addition to the booze. You can consult with the caterer (or liquor store sales manager) for guidance on how much to buy for each type, but there are plenty of "wedding alcohol calculator" resources online to ballpark. When you buy alcohol yourself, see if the store has a return policy for any unopened cases or bottles. Your major liquor stores generally will accept unopened returns and refund you. It is better to have more than you need than not enough. For 50 people, you figure each guest will have generally 3 – 5 drinks over the course of 5 hours = about $10 per person, overall spending about $400 – $600 (depending on costs/sales tax in your area) for your bar. If you go ahead with guests BYOB, people generally will not bring soft drinks or mixers or water, so you should provide non-alcoholic beverages. Iced tea, lemonade, and fruit/mint infused waters can also be nicely displayed and are all water-based beverages that you can inexpensively make yourself, which can also help reduce spending as much on more expensive sodas. Don't forget lots of bags of ice and coolers too.

    3 agree
  24. I admit, this is one of those things that makes me edgy. I feel like when you throw a wedding, you (or whoever's paying for it) are hosting. To me, a host doesn't ask people to supply their own food or drink. By the same token, a good guest accepts what's offered and doesn't whine about the lack of their favorite whatever.

    That said, I totally understand that some cultures/crowds feel differently, and if yours is one, go right ahead. But be sure of your audience.

    7 agree
    • You took the words out of mouth; this is exactly how I feel. This why even BYOB parties make me feel edgy too.

      My family went to a reception recently and what this family did was have 'tickets' ( 2 per person) for drinks, and after your 2 tickets were done, you paid cash for the rest. Which I found to be reasonable and this way costs for a 'open bar' was kept somewhat down.

  25. The main issue I see with BYOB is, if you have 50 guests, you could conceivably end up with 50 bottles of weird liquor that you and your husband don't like and will never finish. Whereas you can get 25 bottles of two buck chuck for $50 and be done with it.

    2 agree
  26. I think it really depends on your priorities and knowing your guests.

    My partner and I made the choice to have wine for toasting, tea, lemonade, ice water, and possibly a spiked punch(depending on the kinds of freaks we can get elsewhere in the budget/planning).

    We know some people will be annoyed by our choice, but we are comfortable with our decision for many reasons.
    1. We set a top end budget of $2500.00 for the whole affair.
    2. He and I don't drink.
    3. Having no bar at the reception will take the angst out of my very conservative, baptist grandfather having to sit through an Irish-German Catholic wedding.
    4. In Missouri, if you are providing alcohol – open bar or cash bar – you can be held accountable for the condition of your guests when they leave your location.

    To tactfully, let people know

  27. I think it really depends on your priorities and knowing your guests.

    My partner and I made the choice to have wine for toasting, tea, lemonade, ice water, and possibly a spiked punch(depending on the kinds of deals we can get elsewhere in the budget and planning).

    We know some people will be annoyed by our choice, but we are comfortable with our decision for many reasons.
    1. We set a top end budget of $2500.00 for the whole affair.
    2. He and I don't drink.
    3. Having no bar at the reception will take some of the angst out of my very conservative, Baptist grandfather having to sit through an Irish-German Catholic wedding. He's been grumpy ever since I converted 3 years ago.
    4. In Missouri, if you are providing alcohol – open bar or cash bar – you can be held accountable for the condition of your guests when they leave your location.

    To tactfully let people know, we're playing with the phrase "In deference to the Bride's family, alcohol will only be provided for toasting; but you are welcome to bring alcohol if you wish to indulge further".

    Still needs some finalizing, but we're feeling good about it so far.

    • When I have a wedding I definitely plan on doing something similar, because half of my family can't be trusted around alcohol (and, frankly, get downright mean) and the other half are recovering alcoholics. My family=CRAZY UNCOMFORTABLE around alcohol.

      That being said, I know they would feel stung if I put "in deference to the bride's family" etc on the invitation, because they would feel:
      1.) that they were being outed as recovering alcoholics
      2.) that people are going to eye them during the reception as "those party-poopers that the groom is marrying into."

      I haven't had a wedding, so I can't give wedding advice. But navigating around alcohol is something I've gotten used to in my family, and my advice is own your discomfort and your reasons. And heck, your reasons may very well be in deference to your family. But, they're your reasons. And saying "We're doing this in deference to my family" kinda sounds like you're putting "We know this will be lame, sorry" on your invitations. It's your reception, and choices about alcohol are up to you. Own them, and don't start the dialogue about your awesome wedding with an apology.

      1 agrees
      • Good points.

        I love my family, and in my brain I use different social filters, as needed to make things easier to process.

        His family is going to be unhappy with whatever we do because we refuse to host 500 people like his mother's wedding did.

      • Good points.

        I love my family, and in my brain I use different social filters, as needed to make things easier to process.

        His family is going to be unhappy with whatever we do because we are planning on having less than 100 people (compared to the 500 person gala that his mother's first wedding was).

        I was being overly apologetic about something that needs no apology. Which is really ironic since the planning battle-cries so far has been, "don't like it, don't come" and "we sign the checks, we make the choices".

        Thank you for the reality check. You gave me some great feedback. If some one is upset enough to ask why there is no bar, then I guess we'll deal with it from there.

        Sorry about the double post. Thumb slipped. :/

  28. I think, if that's what you want to do for your wedding, then do it. I also think it's wrong to criticize someone else's wedding choices. That's the worst (and most selfish) time to criticize someone else. If that is what will make them happy, who are you to say it's tacky? I mean yeah you have the right to your opinion, but it's simple. If you think it's tacky then don't do it yourself. You don't have to be mean just because you have a different idea of what is "wedding acceptable" I wouldn't dare say anything, if I felt it was tacky. That thought would stay in my head, where it belongs. Just remember not all opinion have to be said, not all have to be talked about either.

    1 agrees
  29. I'm having a wedding at a state park in VT. Originally the people at the state park told me if I didn't have kegs I didn't need a caterer. Our wedding is very low key, picnic ceremony, BBQ food, lawn games, no huge gown or any of that. Although I'm spending a lot of time making sure the atmosphere is right. My fiance and I are casual and live in the mountains. We indended to cater the food and fill buckets with beer, ice, and wine. Turns out, the lady who gave us the information was wrong and if we are providing alcohol we need to have it served by a caterer, but the state park allows BYOB…which seemed odd to me, but it is what it is. M family is from NY, they literally live in different worlds and have spent what I find to be crazy amounts of money on their fancy weddings. Not my style or desire. I brought up BYOB to my sister and mother and they weren't very nice about it…I was told I was tacky amongst other things. The truth is we can't afford to cater the booze. I didnt' think this was a huge deal. I've spent ridiculous amounts of money traveling, going to bachelorette parties, buying crazy bridesmaid dresses, getting gifts, staying in hotels for my family, getting my nails and hair done etc. My wedding involves a $40 campsite, no dress code, no bridal shower, no bachelorette etc. and to me asking people to bring their own 12 pack didn't seem like a big deal. After yelling, tears, begging my finace to elope, I've finally decided does it really matter? Who made all these rules anyway? Your marriage is about finding a partner for life. It's about love. It is so easy to get caught up in the details, but if people are coming to your wedding because it's an open bar than they probably aren't that important anyway. If people don't want to give me/ you a gift because they bought a $14 12 pack…well that's just fine. I'm not getting married for gifts and I imagine no one else is. Is BYOB tacky according to the big wedding industry and the people that feed it- yup. But does it really matter? It's a money hungry industry… If my drunk irish family wants to stand in a corner and talk bad about me because I dont have an open bar so be it. I say do what you want. This is about you and your partner and don't let anyone make you forget that! This is your day to be selfish.

    3 agree
  30. Every one with tons of food allergies, like me, are probably stashing drinks and snacks any ways. Too many times I've gone to weddings and left starving and way to sober.

  31. We're having a BYOB and my friends and family are ok with it. My friends know they have expensive taste in beer and no bud light or Corona would do.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.