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.
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?