(Closed) Cash Bar vs Open Bar?

posted 8 years ago in Reception
Post # 17
136 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

I agree with many of the previous posters, cash bar is rude. You wouldn’t serve them chicken and give them an option to upgrade it to steak with cash, so why would you let them upgrade their drinks with cash? Also you wouldn’t invite somebody to your home and charge them for drinks there. Having a party at a restaurant is no different.

Can you do beer and wine only, cut down your guest list, find a cheaper venue, or cut down other costs (favors, centerpieces, flowers, etc.)?

Post # 18
228 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

Have the wdding you can fullyvafford, whether its open bar, wine and beer, or no alcohol. its proper hospitality to make you guests feel welcomed and to feelthat they are appreciated. They are devoting their day to you, some people may be travelling. They are coming to your wedding and providing a gift, and now your asking them to pay for their alcohol? Personally if that was me, I rather have no bar than a cash bar.

Perhaps what you can offer instead is just serve an alcoholic signature drink. Maybe one type for the giles and one type for the guys. At least you will have alcohol, it is a limited selection however no one is paying for it and your being more hospitable.

Best of luck 🙂

Post # 19
1020 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

This was a big issue between DH and I for our wedding. He’s French and here a cash bar is rude. We were married in the UK where it is totally normal, even expected. I’ve never actually been to a wedding with an open bar.

It turned out that for budget reasons we did have a cash bar. However, we had a drinks reception straight after the ceremony, served extremely good wine with dinner and had champagne with dessert/speeches. It’s not that we were not generous hosts. No one seemed to have a problem with the cash bar, the prices were much more reasonable than in a pub and it meant those who wanted to drink did and those who weren’t bothered didn’t.

Post # 20
42 posts
  • Wedding: July 2014

Look at it like this: Would you invite people to your house for a party, then ask them to pay for each drink? Nope. So why do it at your wedding? (Alsace beat me to it, but we are on the same wavelength.)

There is NO shame in not being able to afford a huge open bar, but I think that when you host an event, your role is to HOST. To be gracious and welcoming, to provide for your guests.

Now, this might mean you have a smaller party, or maybe just offer beer and wine or a signature drink — or even a simple wine and cheese-style reception. Or just have a dry wedding. It is just  rude, imho, to invite people to an event and expect them to pay.



Post # 21
5622 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

I totally agree with having the wedding you can afford.

Cash bars are somewhat common here.. but nobody really ENJOYS them. It’s not like someone will be like, “oh yeah, cash bar! let me purchase my drinks!”.. while as having an open bar people will remember.

For us, it wasn’t even an option We WERE having alcohol, and we weren’t having our guests pay for it. To us, it just seems rude. We found a venue that allowed us to bring in our own alcohol. So we are having a mix-your-own station, as well as a server available for those who don’t like to mix their own.

Post # 22
1347 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

Unless you advertise you are having a cash bar it’s rude and can leave your guests thirsty.  Guests expects to be invited to a wedding where the evening’s festivities are taken care of by the bride and groom.  I have been to one cash bar wedding. I didn’t know beforehand and didn’t have cash. Boo hiss boo. I couldn’t drink and the dancing part was just not the same. The music by itself wasn’t good enough for me to get on the dance fkoor without a little something in my system.

There are ways to make your open bar cheap.

During cocktail hour only serve soft drinks and iced tea.

Only serve beer or wine or have a signature cocktail.

Serve bottom shelf luquor.

Post # 23
975 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

In England, where my fiance is from, cash bars are generally the norm. But I’m from New Orleans and having a cash bar is exceptionally rude and tacky. We went with an open bar for our wedding because the unlimited open bar with call brand liquor, beer, wine, soft drinks, and mixers was all included in the cost of the overall catering package (a very reasonable price, I might add).

Personally I’d rather be at a dry or limited availability wedding than a cash bar wedding. If you can afford beer and wine only, go that route. Or go dry. But don’t ask that the guests who have travelled to your private, hosted event pay more money just to fully enjoy everything you’re offering.

Post # 24
937 posts
Busy bee

I NEVER understood the annalogy of “would you invite guests to a party and then aske them to pay for a drink…”. In my city people BRING booze to a party.NO ONE expects a host to cover everyones booze. This is CANADA booze are insanely expensive here.  If someone throws a party the host supplies maybe some wine, and beer, maybe some rum, then everyone else brings somethings as well. Whatever they prefer to drink that night. Then everyone shars with everyone else and does booze swaps, cause sometimes you just want what someone else has got.  Here what is normal is table wine at weddings. Every table has a bottle of red and a bottle of white from the couple.

Its a family community thing. We HAPPILY throw down our wallets at a cash bar. A previous poster said that just because  cash bars are common in some communities it doesnt make it right.  Well we don’t think that expecting our love ones to take on the burden of an extra $7,000 just so we can get drunk right. We don’t WANT them to invite less guests so they can offer more alcohol. We want them to be surrounded by as many friends and loved ones as they can squeeze into the venue to be there for them on their day. 

Post # 25
2053 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

@MrsGolden2Bee:  I’m also in Canada, yes booze is very expensive compared to the US.  But if I have people over for dinner, for a party, etc. I supply the booze, beer and wine. It’s the same if I go to my friends’ place.  I always bring a bottle of wine for the host, but it never gets opened at the party.  Even at my BMs house (where we tend to gather the most) she has the drinks ready/cracks a bottle of wine, etc.  I haven’t been to a BYOB party since university.  

I know people who’ve had cash bars, but I’ve never been to one.  My Dear Fiance is Irish and apparently its very common there to have a cash bar.  Well he lost that battle right from the start.  Our bar is a flat rate per person, regardless of how many drinks they have.  And it was actually pretty reasonable, it was only an additional $50pp to have the full open bar the full night (except at dinner, the bar closes, there’s wine served with the meal.) 

Post # 26
937 posts
Busy bee

@sostobe:  I’m well out of uni and BYOB still happens here. I’ve never been to a wedding that WASN’T cash bar, and no venue in my whole city offers a per person flat rate for open bar. *shrug*.

Post # 27
1020 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@MrsGolden2Bee:  +10 I fully agree. I’m sure my friends and family would rather pay for a couple of drinks themselves than feel like we had to exclude people we care about just so they could drink for free.


Post # 28
730 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2014

I agree with what another poster said.  Cash bar is better than no bar.

I don’t think it’s as rude as people are making it out to be.

Post # 29
92 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

We are solving that by seeving beer and wine (and sangria!) but having a cash bar available if someone feels they must have liquor.  It is 3x the price for full open bar and at least half of our guests would want beer or wine,but we would still have to pay full liquor prices or them anyway, so it would be wasted.  The cash bar prices are reasonable for this area too (about $6 per drink). We considered open bar for cocktail hour but we didnt want people to binge drinks “while they were free”.   

Post # 30
1465 posts
Bumble bee


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Plus one million to both of these ladies posts.  Host what you can afford.  They covered it all.

Post # 31
1056 posts
Bumble bee

Know your guests. If you know your family and friends are drinkers, then I believe a cash bar is a bad idea. Previous bees posted good ideas of only having beer and wine, house brand booze, etc. Even if they aren’t big drinkers, beer/wine would be the way to go. It provides something without asking your guests to reach into their wallets…again (they spent money traveling, getting you gifts, etc.). Doing this a far and away better than drink tickets, in my opinion. As a previous be pointed out, it looks odd and has a whiff of tackiness. There. I said it!  

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