(Closed) Cash bar thoughts – regional?

posted 9 years ago in Food
Post # 62
1604 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

I think it’s regional.  I’m from NY, and all the weddings I’ve been to on Long Island, NYC, & NJ have been open full bar.  I’ve also been to weddings in DC, Philadelphia, San Fransico & San Diego and those have been open bar as well.

I’ve been to two weddings that were beer & wine only: One in Atlanta and one in Ohio (Akron area).  

Overall, I’d MUCH prefer a cash bar than no alcohol.  I wouldn’t judge unless the couple obviously spent LOTS of money on things like tall centerpieces, designer wedding gowns (5k+), 4 photographers, etc.   


Post # 63
1427 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I’m from the DC Metro area, and cash bars are frowned upon here, but I don’t give a rat’s @ss what a bride chooses to do for her day. I wouldn’t complain about a cash bar. I’m not there to get drunk for free.


Now, I personally am doing a wine, beer, and mimosa open bar (we’re doing a brunch wedding) and we’re doing it as a consumption bar (we pay for what was consumed afterwards instead of paying a price per person ahead of time). My venue will tell us when we hit $2,000 (before tax/gratuity) and, at that point, we will decide if we want to let it remain open or turn into a cash bar. I’m hoping we don’t get to $2,000 personally.

Post # 65
2831 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I think it depends more on your friends/family and culture than region.  My highschool BFF had a mid-morning wedding, then a dessert reception at something like 1-2pm.  I’d fall out of my chair if she offered me a beer, so never thought I’d see any booze at her wedding.  (PS ladies, don’t have a wedding like this – it was nice, but we were all SO HUNGRY – feed me a meal if you occupy me between 11am and 4pm!)

I was born and raised, college educated, and still live in Michigan.  I’ve been to weddings on the West Side, WAAAAY up North, the East Side, and everywhere inbetween.  Most of my college friends couldn’t afford an open bar so they had beer and wine, maybe cash liquor to go with it.  Especially prevalent “Up North.”  I’ve been to some society weddings down here that went all out and definitely expected (and had) a full, premium, open bar. 

We had an open bar because we treated our wedding reception as a big party for our closest friends and family.  I wouldn’t invite them over and charge them for a beer, or ask them out for dinner and give them the check.  We’re also in a good financial position and felt like it was the least we could do for the people who have supported us our whole lives. 

Post # 66
270 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

Hailing from Arizona. Been to several dry weddings – yuck. My step sister had a cash bar, her wedding was a dud. Open beer/wine is awesome. Went to one last summer and it wasn’t until I started planning my own wedding that I remembered that they ran out of buffet food and I never got served any cake. Did I care? No! I just kept drinking, it was the best wedding ever, hah!

Post # 67
982 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

I’m from New Jersey and been to many weddings. Every wedding I have been to has had a premium open bar – meaning all top shelf liquor, no restrictions. While I have no problem with cash bars in other parts of the country, its definitely looked down on for weddings here. 

It is definitely regional, I went to school in the midwest and everyone I know out there say its very common to only have beer and wine at weddings. 

Post # 68
174 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

I grew up in Chicago, and now live in Florida. Every wedding I’ve been to in the Chicago area has been full open bar (although not always top shelf stuff.) I’m pretty sure that most open bars have a set time (every venue I have looked at offers 5hrs. max) I’ve only been to a few weddings in FL, and they actually all had wine/beer bar, but if you wanted a mixed drink it was cash bar. If no one will mind the cash bar, I say go for it. One less expense for you!!

Post # 69
2051 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2006

Heyo, I’m also in Minnesota (in the metro area though) but am from Wisconsin (again, a metro area). I agree with most of what you said:

1) Dry weddings are rare. Very rare. I don’t think I’ve ever been to one.

2) Full open bar is rare.

3) Full cash bar is also rare.

I feel like most weddings I go to I can count on free beer and wine (even if it is only X number of kegs until they start charging). I expect to pay for mixed drinks. I think this is totally fine.

Post # 70
881 posts
Busy bee

I’m from a smaller town outside Toronto and most weddings I have been to have been outside Toronto (read smaller cities/towns within a 2 hour drive from TO). 

From my experiences, an open bar is pretty common, especially in banquet hall type venues. I have been to a couple of cash bar weddings where either the 1st drink is on the host then a full cash bar afterward. Or where they offer open bar until the tab gets to a certain point, then it’s cash bar from there <— personally I find the latter is confusing to guests if they don’t have cash or they go up to the bar and have to go back to their table to grab their purse or wallet. 

I have also been to one dry wedding, that offered sparkling non-alcoholic juices on the tables, it was a lunchtime reception. 



Post # 71
594 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

I have only been to one wedding as an adult and it was beer/wine only which suited me just fine. I am definitely a wine drinker.

My wedding will be full open bar, we won’t have top shelf liquors though (skyy vodka, bacardi rum, jack daniels whiskey and Jose cuervo tequila) wines will be ( Merlot, Moscato, White Zin, Chardonay and Pinot) along with a champagne toast. All mixers included.

I opted for what we would afford at $20/pp with a guest count of 150. The premium bar would have run us double per person..um no thanks.

Hopefully the guests will enjoy and appreciate what we are hosting.


I don’t look down on cash bars, I just want to be forewarned so that I know to bring cash. I however would prob sneak my flask in if I went to a dry wedding. Not to offend but this is the truth. I am shy and will not get on your dance floor at all without a little liquid courage 🙂


ETA: I am from Dallas, TX which is a pretty big city

Post # 72
1438 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I’m from a small town in Ontario where cash bars are the norm.  I moved to toronto and had hosted Wine, beer, champagne for cocktail hour and dinner and cash bar reception and my family/friends from outside toronto were fine with it while my toronto friends werent.

oh well, you can’t please everyone, just do what’s right for you and your wallet.  I think it’s absurd for people to say you should cut other things out of your wedding to have an open bar.  I also think its very rude for guests to even complain about a cash bar.  

Post # 73
892 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

I’m from upstate NY, and only the expensive weddings are open bar.  Mine was a budget wedding – champagne was provided, but everything else was cash.  One Wedding I went to was a keg and wine provided, and BYOB hard.

Post # 74
776 posts
Busy bee

I live in Alberta and most weddings I’ve been to have been cash bar. There have been some variations on that such as toonie bars, open bar cocktail hour, two free drinks to start, etc. but for the most part, no one seems to really care as long as there’s booze.

As a guest I don’t care if it’s a cash bar. As long as I know beforehand to bring money, or if there’s an ATM at the venue.

If it’s a dry wedding I will definitely sneak something in.

Post # 75
69 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

I am from Upstate NY and around here it’s a cash bar .I was thinking the same thing after reading all these boards and I have to go with what I can afford if people don’t like it they can go out the same door they came in .  If anything I’ll do free keg beer and a Special Drink other then that Cash bar oh soft drinks free for those not drink . 

Post # 76
59 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

Regional for sure! 

My region:  Rich families have unlimited wine and beer. Really rich families (aka your top .5%) might have unlimited everything, I wouldn’t know. Everyone else has a total cash bar. One of my friends sprung for a bottle of champagne at the table- it was a big deal. I’ve never been to a wedding without tucking a twenty in my purse. 

I am doing a cash bar. Free water, tea, coffee, lemonade. The norm. 

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