Cash bar vs open bar

posted 2 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 2
1629 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2014 - Church

livelaughlove94:  After seeing maaaany threads about this I have come to the conclusion that it is more the region you are from.  Where I am from cash bars are perfectly acceptable. Many do open bar during the cocktail hour. There are some very vocal bees who will say cash bar is very rude. I think that if you can afford it then go for it. Or go for a cheaper option of beer/wine only or a few drink tickets per person. Other options are toonie bars.

Post # 3
60 posts
Worker bee

My opinion is that a cash bar is never acceptable. Your guests shouldn’t have to pay a dime to attend your wedding (other than the money they’re already spending on travel, accomodations, and any gifts for you and your fiance). If an open bar with spirits is cost-prohibitive, there are lots of other options, like just serving wine and beer, or limiting spirits to cocktail hour only, etc.

I also think it’s in poor taste when tip jars are left out for wedding servers. Whoever hosts the wedding should take responsibility for all gratuities.

That’s my 2 cents!

Post # 5
112 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2021

I think I’ll have a cash bar, simply because my dad is an alcoholic and my childhood consists of my mother screaming at my falling over drunk father, so tons of drunk people will make me very uncomfortable.

Post # 6
6697 posts
Bee Keeper

Host what you can afford, even if that is cake and punch or no alcohol at all. There are many ways to save money that don’t involve making your invited guests take out their wallets.  Limit the duration of the bar, serve one or two glasses of wine or a champagne toast. Regional practices are not the same thing as the etiquette of hospitality.  Just because something is common, doesn’t make it polite. 

Post # 7
1244 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

I think you have to consider what your guests are accustomed to. Personally, as a guest I’d rather go to a wedding with better/more food and the option of buying alcohol if I want it, over having only cake and an open bar or no alcohol at all.

Post # 8
2174 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

Just because select areas consider it rude doesn’t mean it’s universally rude.

It’s very region/social circle dependent.

Post # 10
314 posts
Helper bee

Cash bars are asking for trouble- if people are warned beforehand they will smuggle alcohol in or get drunk in the parking lot; but if people are not warned then they likely won’t bring cash and nobody will be drunk, they will all just be disgruntled and leave early because nobody wants to dance without alcohol.

Where I live the people would much rather have open bar and crappy food. [and honestly I get it b/c even at weddings where they “splurged on food” the food wasn’t that good- has anyone ever been to a wedding where the food was incredible? …maybe the caterers in my area just suck]

Post # 11
458 posts
Helper bee

I’m going with a cash bar. I’m a young bride, and when I get married, I won’t even be old enough to drink the alcohol at my own wedding. My fiancé doesn’t drink, his parents and my parents don’t drink, and our closer family doesn’t either. Some of out aunts and uncles do, but since the people who are most influential in our lives don’t, so we don’t see a need to pay for alcohol that’s going to people not as close to us (even though we do love them, an Extra $13 per person at 200 guests is a lot for an open bar). plus, I’ve been to weddings where his uncle has gotten drunk and hit on me repeatedly and that is NOT happening at my wedding!!

Post # 12
1116 posts
Bumble bee

livelaughlove94:  depends where you are.  Here in the UK cash bars are the norm so not rude at all.  We usually provide wine with the meal and a glass of something fizzy for the toast but any other alcohol is paid for by the guest. We make sure they aren’t hungry or thirsty (some/all soft drinks are usually provided) but if they want to get drunk that’s their choice and they pay.

Post # 13
1035 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

yumcheez:  Seriously? Pople are going to get drunk in the parking lot at a wedding? What kind of people are you friends with?? I’m not American and have never been to a wedding with an open bar, always cash, and have never seen anyone do that. As a pp said, I’d far rather have the option to buy myself a drink than to not have any at all just because the couple couldn’t afford to pay for it themselves.

Post # 14
871 posts
Busy bee

I have never been to a wedding with an open bar in England where I live- they are always cash bars and it is expected. I went to a wedding in Ohio though and they provided alcohol for everyone and all of us from the Uk thought that was SO generous. We were shocked to hear it was expected amongst the brides friends. I actually think its pretty rude of guests to expect an open bar – I come to watch you get married, not to drink alcohol for free. I mean you already get free food, what more do you want! I think the expectation of having to provide alcohol drives up costs for people who can’t afford it and put pressure on people trying to have a budget wedding!

Post # 15
143 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

Cash bar does not bother me. I would be just as happy at your wedding. It’s clear from the weddingbee boards that lots of people think it is terrible to ask a guest to pay.


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