The Ten Commandments Of Open Bars

The Ten Commandments Of Open Bars

With wedding season coming to a close, everyone has stories from weddings past. The rehearsals, the receptions, the hook-ups. What a year it was.

Looking back, each wedding has something in common (no, not the mason jars). It’s what fueled the fire that is a rowdy reception: an open bar. What can be considered a gift and a curse, open bars are widely regarded as a “must” at most weddings these days. It’s come to be expected that drinks will be on the house, and we all have our own experiences with them (good and bad). And yeah, we’ve all taken them for granted.

But to whom much is given, much is expected, so following a few simple rules regarding open bars is essential.

I. Thou shall tip the bartender after the first round.

These bartenders know the gig. All they see is a bunch of wide-eyed puppies that are looking to feed.

Tipping the bartender is the least you can do. It shows everyone around you that you’re not a cheap asshole who’s only attending the wedding for six rounds of scotch-sodas before heading back and disappointing your plus-one on the hotel mattress.

Furthermore, it gets you in the good graces of the bartender. For the rest of the night, they’re serving you drinks first (right behind the hardbody who dressed in an effort to outdo the bride).

II. Thou must respect a two-drink-at-a-time limit.

These things are a mess. The waitresses can’t keep drinks on their trays for more than a couple seconds, and the bartenders are scrambling while simultaneously giving weak pours so they don’t keep having to open new cases of vodka and wine.

I get it. You’re trying to get a jag on. But have some respect for yourself and those around you. If you’re snagging two flutes of champagne for yourself because you don’t want to mess up a networking opportunity or interrupt the game you’re spitting at another single, that’s fine. Just don’t look like the guy hoarding beers at his table like he’s about to get snowed in for a week.

That being said…

III. Honor thy date.

When obeying the limit, keep your date in mind. You look a lot more suave grabbing two champs and handing one to a lady than you do grabbing a pair, slugging one down, and heading off into the night with another in your clutches.

It’s an open fucking bar. If you get up from your table to cocktail up, grab your better half a drink so she can enjoy herself stress-free. Or, if your date is on his back while “Shout” echoes through the venue, be a doll and grab your date a whiskey-soda as he’s going to be famished when he’s done.

Simply put: do unto others as you would want done to you.

IV. Thou shall not order complicated concoctions.

Oh, you want an Old Fashioned? That’s great, man. But this isn’t a jazz bar on the upper east side. This is a two-hundred person wedding where the bartenders can’t just be crafting cocktails for picky assholes all night. Unless it’s the couple’s signature cocktail, stick to the basics. Two ingredient maximum, one garnish, ice.

V. Thou shall not order anything thou cannot afford on thy own.

The average wedding costs $27,000 these days. You make $27,000 a year these days. Don’t be the asshole ordering Johnny Walker Black when you’re clearly on a Jos. A. Bank budget staying at a Motel 6 even though the bride and groom have a group discount at the more expensive hotel (that you still can’t afford).

Sure, if you’re known as the guy who exclusively drinks Jack, then drink some fuckin’ Jack and do you. No one will think twice because you’ve already conditioned them. Win-win. But if you’re known for guzzling Kentucky Gentleman (underrated, by the way), don’t be seen taking back double-Woodfords neat. It’s unbecoming.

VI. Thou shall stick with one type of drink.

Even though it looks like one, this isn’t an all-you-can-eat buffet. If you start going back for seconds to try something you didn’t get to the first few visits, you’re going to be holding back dry heaves on the dance floor while your parents look at you wondering where they went wrong.

Now, I’m not the “liquor before beer” rule-following type. I’m more of the “don’t drink everything in sight and you’ll be fine” type. I’m not following Miller Lites with bourbon and then asking for a round of kamikazes before facing a bottle of champagne. Okay, maybe I am, but I’m not going to go on record advising others to.

VII. Thou shall not order too many shots.

This may sound blasphemous, but I’m in the camp of people that believe you should only be able to order one round of shots at an open bar per night, if that. This isn’t a sprint or a race, and shots are an easy way to drain a fifth that someone else paid for just so you can go from zero to a hundred.

If someone else orders a round and hands one to you, that’s fine and dandy. But when the bride’s dad sees you passing out plastic cups full of Fireball on his tab, you’re going to be the asshole he talks about “getting too drunk” every time that wedding comes up at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

VIII. Thy name must be on an invite to imbibe.

Asking “You mind if my buddy stops by?” to the person footing the bill ain’t a good look. Ain’t a good look at all. If they’ve been gracious enough to allow you a plus-one, you’re already playing with house money. Don’t just smell blood in the water and invite everyone in your high school yearbook because you haven’t seen ’em in a fat minute. This isn’t a soup kitchen.

IX. Thou shall thank the bankroll.

Don’t walk up to the dude paying for the shindig and drunkenly drop a “Man, thanks for the open bar, man. I haven’t gotten this fucked up in a while.”

Have some chill. Express how much you’ve enjoyed the event and compliment what a great job they did organizing it. They’ll appreciate it, and they’ll surely remember that you took a minute out of your night to show you’re a decent human being.

X. Respect thy limits.

Just as an all-you-can-eat buffet doesn’t mean you need to leave the restaurant so full that your pants are unbuttoned, an open bar doesn’t just give you a ticket to Blackout City, Utah. It’s a kind gesture, not open season to get as fucked up as possible.

Be honest with yourself — no matter what, you’re going to be buzzin’. Respect the bar and your body will respect you. And if you play your cards right, maybe you’ll have a shot with the chick dressed to the nines trying to upstage the bride.

Image via Shutterstock

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Will deFries (Twitter / Instagram) is a Senior Writer at Grandex and the world's foremost authority on Sunday Scaries (Twitter / Instagram). Email me at

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