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How Do I Word a Limited Bar on My Wedding Invitations?

Do I even have to let people know?

Q: Hi APW,

I’m looking for invitation advice. My fiancé and I are planning on providing beer and wine at our wedding and skipping serving hard alcohol, for various reasons. I’ve casually mentioned to a few people that this is what our plan is and have been asked numerous times if we’re going to let our guests know ahead of time.

Is it normal to let people know what drinks you plan on serving ahead of time? And if so, how do we word our beverage decisions to our guests?

A: Hey there,

Look, I totally get that wedding invitation wording is a sticky subject. In 2021, we live in a world full of quick and casual communication—yet wedding invitations are still expected to be relatively formal. Ugh.

Further, I think it’s worth pointing out that our society and culture have a bit of a weird relationship with alcohol. Is the idea here that your guests would bring secret flasks to get more drunk than you’re going to provide? Or that your loved ones wouldn’t come if they knew what kind of alcohol you were serving? I always feel so thrown off by this element of weddings.

Here are my thoughts, in short:

  • If you were doing a cash bar, I think it would be vital to let folks know in advance. Only because there is an expectation of them that they bring money. (This applies if you’re hosting the beer and wine, but they have an option to purchase other drinks… give them a heads up so they come with their pockets padded).
  • Otherwise, if you’re serving alcohol of any sort (for free), I don’t think you owe anyone an explanation in advance (or at all).

Does that mean you can’t or shouldn’t? Not necessarily. It’s totally your choice. This is your wedding, after all—and in true APW fashion, we are here to remind you that you get to do it your way. You don’t have to fit into your grandparent’s mold or do what your aunt says you should do, or even what Emily Post prescribes. So, here’s some options that you can mix and match, or ignore, at will.

  1. Put something on your wedding invitation. Okay, to clarify, it should go on a ‘details’ card or somewhere else, not necessarily front and center on your beautiful paper invitation.
    If you’re going for a more formal invitation style, you can say something like: “Limited bar available.”
    Going more casual? Try, “We’ll bring the beer and wine, you bring the party.”
  2. Share details on your wedding website. This is probably the ideal option. That way you can share all sorts of details and it won’t feel like you’re making a big deal of nothing (nothing being that you are indeed serving alcohol to your wedding guests!). The extra nice thing about wedding websites is that there’s nothing formal about them (unless you choose that), so you can share as many details as you want. (Need help making a wedding website, and knowing what to put on it? We’ve got you covered.) Just don’t forget to include a link to your wedding website on your details card, instead.
  3. Just don’t. If you’re providing beer and wine, then folks will be fine. They don’t need to bring cash, and their glasses will be full. I used to always remind my clients: “They are eating and drinking for free, they’ll be just fine.”

Hope that helps. Happy planning.

xo,
ALYSSA

What do you think APW? How did (or will) you handle your bar plans for your wedding? Do you think guests need a heads up about exactly what will be available to them? Share your thoughts.

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