Cash Bar vs Open Bar?

posted 3 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
Member
357 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

@FutureMrs_KRC:  You should host your guests properly with the wedding you can afford to fully host. So, your guests shouldn’t be asked to open their wallets. If that means beer and wine only, that’s fine. If that means less guests, thats fine. If that means dry, that’s fine.

If that means cash bar, that isn’t fine. A reception thanks your guests for attending your ceremony and celebrating with you – therefore you are the host and responsible for paying for it. Cash bars/tickets are very rude and poor ettiquette no matter how they’re incorporated. It makes your guests unevent (some cannot afford drinks while others can, guests feel bad/unwelcome, etc). It’s basically saying “you’re good enough to travel here, bring me a gift, and maybe show up in a picture…but I don’t care enough to thank you properly for doing so.”

Post # 4
Member
871 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

@FutureMrs_KRC:  Drink tickets seem…odd for a wedding. I personally don’t think a cash bar is tacky so long as juice/soda/tea are free. No one NEEDS alcohol. I think maybe doing beer/wine open and hard liqour cash or doing a tab (like you pay the bar XXX$ and then once the guests use it it goes to cash). People can still get hammered with tickets because some guests will get extra from those not using theirs so if thats a teal concern beer/wine open may be the way to go. Or another option is open only for cocktail hour and then just soda open the rest of the night.

Post # 5
Member
1169 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

@FutureMrs_KRC:  I think of it this way… (and this is just my opinion) if you are hosting an event, people should not be asked to pay for anything, ever. Is there a way around this? Can you offer just beer/wine? If you must do a cash bar, can you perhaps do a “time limit” on the “open bar” piece? I just think drink tickets are obnoxious for guests. What if you said that drinks during dinner were free and then after would be cash bar? 

Post # 6
Member
6525 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

@FutureMrs_KRC:  if you can’t afford it, fine, but just know people are going to judge no matter what. 

Personally, if I am hosting an event, any event, I don’t want my guests to pay a dime. But in some case, not everyone can afford that. So you have to make do with what you got. Maybe you can do a beer and wine option? 

Post # 7
Hostess
7630 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2013

I think this is largely regional and/or cultural. You should think about what’s normal in your area.

I would only provide what I could afford. I don’t know what your budget looks like but you could do just keg beer and wine or no alcohol at all. I wouldn’t ask people to pay or use tickets. 

Post # 8
Member
1168 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

@antisocialite:  +1

Just do what you can afford, but never ask your guests to pay. I know many people would rather have a cash bar than a dry bar. But it does sound like you have wiggle room in your budget (assuming based on the ticket idea), so you probably could do wine and beer. People usually can pace themselves better with wine and beer – so theres less of a chance of crazy drunk people…

Post # 9
Member
922 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

I’ve got a different opinion than the rest here I guess, but I really don’t think a semi-hosted bar is that bad. But I do agree that drink tickets are not the right way to go about it. Maybe have a hosted bar for a certain period of time, then switch to cash bar? Also, definitely get the word out ahead of time to make sure people actually have cash with them to pay for drinks. 

Its texhnically poor etiquette, but it really depends on your culture and your guests. 

Post # 10
Member
3442 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

I think it really depends on where you are from. Some bees here find it highly tasteless, mostly because in their area & circle of friends, this isn’t something that is done.

On the other hand, I myself am from rural mid-Michigan and cash bars are probably the norm here, so they don’t offend me in the least. I’ve never been to a cash bar wedding with a few drink tickets for “on the house” drinks, but I think that would be a nice touch.

I had an extremely modest budget of 6k for our 100 person wedding, and because we spent so little on the food (8.50pp for catered soup, sandwiches, and salad), we opted to stock an open bar ourselves because our venue allowed it, and then we hired a bartender. The total for the bar came to about $7pp, but we barely even tapped the keg and did have some left over, so it was probably closer to $5-6pp.

I’m not sure if you have picked a venue or not, but the open bar was a nice touch that our guests appreciated, so if you can find a nice venue that allows you to stock your own, it can be very cost effective as well. However, if in your area cash bars are acceptable, I see nothing wrong with it at all.

Here’s a pic of our pretty bar set up 🙂

Post # 11
Member
36 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: January 2010

I went to a wedding last summer where drinks were served before dinner, then only wine was served during dinner, and then switched to a cash bar after dinner. It worked fine logistically, I wasn’t that put out by it because I understand liquor is expensive, but the thing I hated most about it was that my FH (did I get that acronym right??) got totally plastered because he knew the free wine would be cut off. This was the one and only time I’ve seen him very drunk, he never does stuff like that. Other guests did this too, people were talking “the liquor’s going to be cut off soon!” and they all started to drink way more and ask for extra wine at their table… So if you do a cash bar later, keep that info quiet early in the evening otherwise some people might get really drunk early on, in a misguided effort to save money. :/

Post # 12
Member
36 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: January 2010

@MrsSkeletonKey:  Yes, good for you for finding a venue that let you bring your own liquor in! This is the key to saving loads of money on an open bar, especially in cities or places where one drink can be charged at anywhere from $6-10. 

Post # 13
Member
3442 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@BassGirl:  Yes, it definitely did save money! My husband & I recently went on vacation to visit our best friend’s in Florida, and I only ordered 2 drinks the whole time I was there. The first drink was a very very tiny glass of blueberry vodka and soda that ended up costing $8, and the second time I got a double shot of fireball & it cost $11! In Michigan, both of those would have cost less than HALF that. So I really feel for people who live in ritzy or expensive areas.

 

Post # 14
Member
1237 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: February 2014 - Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts

If we went with the first venue, we were going to have a cash bar. And even that was going to cost us. We got a quote for $1800 for 1 drink per guest (150). No way in hell am I paying $1800 for one, just imagine what fully hosting would cost… more than the entire wedding! For me, I am strong minded person and don’t really care who thinks differently or judge me for it. Both my brothers did it and I didn’t hear crap about it. I also thinks it depends on your location as to whether this is acceptable or not. Guests shouldn’t be there to drink, they should be there to celebrate a marriage.

Post # 15
Member
6893 posts
Busy Beekeeper

Once more, I disagree that hosting a private social function  is optional or that some  guests should be treated to more of the food or drink than others based on  the money in their wallet. IMO it’s more a question of  awareness.  While I recognize that cash bars are prevalent in some areas, I  can’t agree  that that makes it appropriate for being  common in those places.

To me, the guest list is always the #1 priority, then I plan my budget from there. I would sooner do a simple bowl of punch  as opposed to a cash bar,if things were  that tight.   There are many in between options that come in at the same  price as a couple of tickets. Open bar for cocktail hour only, passed or served wine, a signature cocktail etc.  In any case, tickets are generally suitable for a fundraiser or corporate event, not a private one. 

Post # 16
Member
92 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

Cash bar is better than no bar.

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