(Closed) Cash Bar vs. Open Bar

posted 8 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
2701 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Many people find cash bars to be rude, but there are many others that don’t.  It really depends on your circle.

If people are going to be offended by a cash bar and you are on a tight budget, why not look at providing only beer and wine and maybe a signature cocktail?


Post # 4
430 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

@aaangelaa:  My suggestion would be to either close the bar for a portion of the evening or have a limited bar – like maybe beer and wine the whole evening.

I know different regions have different traditions, but I feel that cash bars aren’t cool because you are hosting people, and thus they shouldn’t be expected to pay for their drinks.

Post # 5
906 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2014

As long as you warn the guests in advance I can’t see anyone being THAT put out. I mean, we all know folks are on budgets. I truly mean warn them, though. I’ve attended maybe one cash bar reception and it was before I was legal to drink anyway. Fiance and I rarely carry more than $20 cash and (rightly or wrongly) expect open bar, so we’d need a heads up to bring more cash or directions to the nearest ATM.

Post # 6
1022 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2015

View original reply
@sweet5k:  I agree with the first part of a wine/beer bar IF its within your means. 

I get that some people feel its “rude” or “insert T word here” to have a cash bar but one shouldnt go into debt nor take out loans to pay for a wedding – it really isnt that serious! This is one day out of the rest of your life. Do what YOU and Fiance feel is best for your pockets beause in the long run, you are the ones that have to bear the burden of that responsibility.

Post # 7
2401 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

I’d do a general serach of this topic on this site. You’ll see a ton of threads. Many got heated.

Just know that it’s a cultural thing. If it is typical for your friends and family to have a cash bar or no bar, go with that. If you can afford an open bar or it’s unheard of not to have one, go with the open bar. 

Post # 8
97 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

Def give a heads up for a cash bar. I never have cash on me, only card, and most ones I’ve been to wont accept it. So I was SOL, put a damper on things for sure.

Post # 9
248 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

Honestly, I never heard a cash bar being rude until I joined the bee. Many weddings I’ve been to have been cash bar after cocktail hour and I’ve never thought twice about it!

Also, I bartend weddings on the weekends at a really nice function facility (i’ve been doing it for 5 years)…most weddings are open bar during cocktail and then cash bar. The times that it has been open all night, people are pleasantly surprised and never act like it was expected. The same is true for the reverse…once cocktail hour is over and it’s cash bar I have NEVER heard a remark from someone about it being rude. And trust me…people don’t usually hold anything back when they are up at the bar!


Post # 10
3400 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@aaangelaa:  It totally depends on your circle. In rural mid-Michigan (where I live) cash bars are the norm. I would always go to a wedding expecting to pay for drinks. I mean, of course they are hosting the wedding & providing dinner/refreshments, but I think cocktails & alcoholic beverages are more a luxury item that people shouldn’t automatically expect to have paid for.

That being said, I did have an open bar, but only because we were able to bring the liquor & mixers to our venue rather than buying drinks at the reception, so our open bar for 4hrs for 100 guests only cost us about $700.

I would much rather be given the option of a cash bar than going to a dry wedding because the couple thinks that cash bars are tacky or rude. Someone did a poll around here & asked what people would want if they were a guest at a wedding and an open bar was no an option & the vast majority of people voted that they would rather have the option of a cash bar than attend a dry wedding. Something to think about..

Post # 11
86 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

@aaangelaa:  I completely understand. I am in no position to offer a full open bar. So we kind of did something in between. We are having two signature cocktails and our guests will have drink tickets, they can have their choice of either cocktail. After they have their one signature cocktail its a cash bar. An open bar also kind of scares me the price would be crazy and I think people would get out of hand.

Post # 12
2562 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

I really don’t understand cash bars. No one charges for appetizers because they have a tight budget, so why is it ok to charge for drinks? Find something that fits your budget without having to charge your guests.

Post # 13
3625 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

I think it depends on your area. No one in my area does a cash bar at a wedding so it would be considered odd. However, it seems quite common elsewhere in the world. If budget is an issue, can you at least swing an open bar with less selections? For example, we did red wine, white wine, a few imported beers and a signature cocktail. This cuts down on the cost significantly.

Post # 14
1298 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

I’m not a fan of cash bars.  I think when you are hosting, your guests should not have to pay for anything.  Like others have suggested, try doing wine, beer, and a signature cocktail if a full open bar isn’t in your budget.  You could also only have a full bar during cocktail hour and do wine and beer for the rest of the night.


Post # 15
9791 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

It does depend somewhat on your circle and expectations.  I hate cash bars.  I might as well just take myself down the street to the bar so if I’m not having much fun I’d be likely to do just that. 

I went to quite a few weddings with cash bars (or semi-cash bars) but it was all when I was younger, about 21-22.  Probably because my friends were really young then.  I rarely ever see a cash bar now (at 29).  Last one was just a reception and I definitely left early.

You don’t have to have a full bar.  People are perfectly happy with just beer and wine.

If you can bring in your own alcohol, beer and wine is CHEAP to do.  So I would sacrifice somewhere else in order to offer drinks to my guests.

Post # 16
10449 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 2014

It really is a cultural thing. Where I live, cash or toonie bar is pretty normal. I’ve never been to an open bar wedding. 

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