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We're Not Drinkers, Do We Still Have to Serve Alcohol to our Guests?

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If my partner and I don’t drink, should we still pay for an open bar at our wedding?


Throughout our wedding planning journey, my fiancé, TJ, and I haven’t experienced many controversies. We are truly lucky in the sense that our family wants us to have what we want at our wedding. However, the least important item to us was alcohol, as neither of us are drinkers. At the same time, we do recognize that most people enjoy a drink with their meal and it does help in loosening people up on the dance floor! For that reason, we decided that we wanted to have alcohol, in some capacity, at our reception.

I did a lot of research in this area, as I wanted to make sure our guests would enjoy themselves, but also prevent us from spending an egregious amount on alcohol. Some people encouraged us just to do a cash bar, and although that would be the most cost-efficient on our end, we didn’t feel it was fair to ask our guests to travel from so far away and then not provide them with an adult beverage (honestly, though, if alcohol is strictly not in your budget, go for a cash bar – your friends and family should not complain about what you provide at your wedding). Additionally, we were informed from multiple caterers that, in North Carolina, having a cash bar requires jumping through some hoops (permits and insurance), which seemed like a lot more trouble than it was worth. Others encouraged us to do just beer and wine through our caterers, as the price point per person was a lot lower than having liquor and/or signature cocktails. Although the price point was reasonable, it was still more than we wanted to spend.

Finally, our caterer suggested that if we were to provide our own beer and wine, they would keep it cold and serve it for us. The best advice we received in regards to providing alcohol was to set a certain amount of money we are going to spend and don’t go over it. If we run out of alcohol, we run out of alcohol, but we shouldn’t “break the bank” trying to provide “all the alcohol” (especially being that we don’t drink!).

Some important tips to remember if you go this route:

  • Be sure your venue and caterer allow you to supply your own alcohol
  • Your caterer will store and then serve the alcohol
  • Whether your caterer will charge a corkage fee per person
  • Laws your state has in regards to serving alcohol.

In the end, we will supply our guests with an option of a light beer, dark beer, white wine, and/or red wine and will only spend $400 on alcohol. So everybody will be able to enjoy an adult beverage, but we also won’t be spending an exorbitant amount of money. Supplying alcohol at the non-drinkers’ wedding is a subject that is rarely addressed, if at all, when researching the best way to supply alcohol at a wedding, so I hope this is helpful in some ways for your wedding.

What controversies have you faced during wedding planning?


is a bride blogger who got married in 2015. You can read her wedding planning posts here.