(Closed) Cash Bar Dilemma!!

posted 4 years ago in Reception
Post # 91
84 posts
Worker bee

I love the way the pseudo etiquette crowd is throwing around the word tacky when it’s clear they have a superficial understanding of good manners at best.


open bar at cocktail, wine with dinner

+ non alcoholic drinks during the reception

Negotiate a number (5?) of signature drinks

Reduce other areas of the budget including, if the invites haven’t already gone out, the guest list to only include those who will actually want to celebrate with you instead of doing you the favour of gracing your celebration with their presence. 

Please don’t have a cash bar, however. The first option IS having the wedding you can afford and it won’t confuse and embarrass guests who want a refill or require you to specify it on your invite which just totally skeeves me out. 

Post # 92
1888 posts
Buzzing bee

Hey OP, can you ask your Dad to help with the cost of the bar, since he is committed to the venue? What does he think you should do? It sounds like the issue here is that you got stuck paying for a part of the reception that is way more expensive than you expected. I’m sure when you volunteered to cover drinks, you didn’t know it would be $7k.

That seems unusually high, by the way. What if the venue just did wine? It seems ridiculous that they’re unwilling to work with you at all. I agree with a PP and I would see if you could cover an open bar up until a certain limit, say $3k. A lot of people who do that don’t even end up hitting the limit–those booze packages are so overpriced.

Post # 93
523 posts
Busy bee

The big thing to me would be having non alcoholic drinks available for free all night! Let people have as much soft drink and juice as they would like. That would be the only thing that would annoy me, if I couldnt even get a coke. 

Saying that, I would also nix the open bar at cocktail hour, in favour of a few more drinks at dinner. I don’t know about most people but I normally miss cocktail hour/ arrive half way through and even when I am there never  go and get anything from the bar. I simply pick a drink from whatever is on the waters tray when they walk past. 

Is it possible at you venue to do limited drinks during cocktail hour (like just the waiters walking around with several options), non alcoholic drinks all night, wine with dinner and maybe a bottle of scotch on the tables?

Post # 94
3959 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 2016

To me, full or limited bar all night is the best, your situation would be next, cash bar and dry wedding to me are equally bad, though I am understanding of people who have dry weddings for relgious or personal (close family member is an alcoholic) reasons. Cash bars do come off cheap, but I’d rather at least have a couple of drinks during cocktail hour and dinner than have nothing. I agree with PP that it would be really confusing to go from hosted to cash though so I’d make sure this information was readily available. I’ve never been to a wedding with a cash bar, but I would probably treat it like a dry wedding and just leave after the cake. I wouldn’t personally want to pay for drinks at a wedding.

Post # 95
2754 posts
Sugar bee


I thought about this topic last night.  If I knew the B&G were people who didn’t drink, a cash bar wouldn’t surprise me,  However, if I’ve spent time with them out to dinner and drinks and know they are drinkers, I would definitely give them the side eye {and quite possibly less in the envelope} if I had to pay fr  my drinks.

Drink tickets?  understandable for a fundraiser, but not a wedding.

Post # 96
893 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

FutureDrFiske:  You’re still not getting the biggest problem here.  Your guests are NOT GOING TO KNOW your whole deal with your parents paying for x and y and you paying for z, etc. It’s just going to look like you paid for a bunch of superficial stuff at the expense of your guests, instead asking them to make up the cost.  You want what you want, but since you can’t/won’t pay for it, you are getting your guests to pay for it!!!

Basically you just did a really poor job of planning.  What you’re doing is sort of like buying a million dollar home in a great neighborhood and asking people to bring their lawn chairs over to sit on because you then couldn’t afford furniture.

Post # 97
258 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2015


FutureDrFiske:  All I have to say is that I’ve learned that anytime you post something about a cash bar on here you get told your cheap and tacky… in saying that I would say do what you can afford. Don’t brake the bank just because guests want to get drunk for free. I for one could not afford an open bar as well. Beer was provided but if the guests wanted mixed drinks or wine then they could pay for it. Happy planning to you!!

Post # 98
94 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: May 2016 - Maui

Ive been to weddings with a cash bar and wine on the table and no one mentioned anything. I personally never expect an open bar at weddings. I dont know where your located but I know in Canada there are a lot of weddings that choose to do a toonie ($2.00) bar which cuts down on costs and is very cheap for guests. 

Post # 99
12639 posts
Honey Beekeeper


You are really turning the entire concept of hospitality completely upside down and backwards.

When someone invites you to a wedding, it is not a summons, it is an invitation.  If it’s too much effort to attend, there is no obligation or requirement that you do so.  Guests are thanked for attending and when they are moved to give a gift. Hosts are thanked and appreciated for the party itself, just as they would be if you were invited to their home for dinner.

As customary as wedding gifts are, they are supposed to be from the heart. On their end, the would-be recipient is not supposed to have a feeling of entitlement or expectation. That’s why no mention of gifts; even to say “no gifts” is inappropriate on an invitation. 

“Cover the plate” and expecting to make a profit are completely abhorrent in the world of etiquette and are appropriate to a money making venture, not a social occasion. Guests should be invited for exactly the reasons you seem to mock,  family and friends coming together to celebrate love, happiness and marriage. 

I’m sorry that you view the whole thing as no more than a financial transaction. 


Post # 100
2754 posts
Sugar bee

bcaudle10315:  I don’t know any female who drinks beer, and it is kind of … strange to me to offer ONLY that option.  Inexpensive, maybe, but not inclusive.

Post # 101
906 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

arosebyanyothername:  I drink beer–in fact, one of the reasons that FH and I met was our shared beer snobbery! That said, we are having an open bar that will include more than just beer. We understand that it’s not just about us; since we’re having guests we don’t have that luxury of being all about us.


Post # 104
46 posts
  • Wedding: December 1969

weddingmaven: please don’t twist my words around. I did not say that weddings are a mere cash transaction but of course the bride and groom expect a gift! money is always preferred and don’t tell me that I’m wrong. For a wedding that is costing 30k and upwards you cannot tell me that the couple isn’t expecting to use some of the given funds to pay off bits of the wedding. What world do you live in? 

 I do agree that weddings are a great way for family and friends to come together to celebrate love but as the host you have to give your guests the VIP treatment and maybe the venue is just too expensive. 

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by  Yochonlove83.
Post # 105
12639 posts
Honey Beekeeper

Yochonlove83:   As host you have a  responsibility to your guests to provide for refreshments and for their comfort, but one should never go into debt or spend more than one can afford.  As long as there is adequate seating and a reception is not held at a meal time, there’s nothing wrong with the proverbial cake and punch. 

And no, neither we or our parents  irresponsibly counted on gifts to make up the amount spent.  In the world I live in, we would never have spent money we couldn’t afford on a wedding, and were prepared to go to the JOP had our parents had not generously co-hosted, something that we never took for granted for one minute. People gave both checks and physical gifts. We appreciated whatever people gave. 

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