Cash bar vs Open bar

posted 2 years ago in Reception
Post # 2
5884 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: January 2017

I hate cash bars with a passion and one would really annoy me. Either provide the alcohol for your guests or make it a dry wedding. It doesn’t matter that neither of you drink, many people do.

Post # 3
1027 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2019

View original reply
ericaleesi :  

View original reply
ericaleesi :  My wedding was last weekend, my husband is Muslim and I got pregnant 3 months before the wedding so neither of us was drinking but we provided a full bar for our guests who drink. I don’t actually think my venue allowed a cash bar so it was provide alcohol or have a dry wedding, I vote an open bar if you can afford it. 

Post # 4
2992 posts
Sugar bee

I don’t drink but I wouldn’t expect my guests not to either.

We provided top shelf open bar all night for 300 of our friends and family.  No regrets

Post # 5
9436 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2016

Cash bars are so tacky. You are hosting your guests, they should not have to open their wallets. And only having the bar open for an hour sucks too. I’ve been to weddings that have done that and it’s super annoying to walk up to the bar and be told that now you have to pay when you previously didn’t.

Post # 6
4790 posts
Honey bee

You should host your guests properly as the reception is to thank them for attending your wedding. It does not matter that you and your fiance do not drink.

Post # 7
340 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 1969 - Montsalvat, Victoria

Go with what you can afford/is feasible however if I was a guest I’d much prefer an open bar than a cash bar. We just had our wedding in August and had an open bar and our guests are still talking about how great our wine/champs and cocktail/mixer options were. Have you considered having at least a limited open bar (i.e. provide beer, ciders, wine and non-alcoholic beverages and cash bar for the top shelf liquor)? Might be a good middle ground for you guys. 

Post # 8
3740 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2017

A lot of the weddings that I have been to have had a limited open bar (as suggested above). Beer, wine, soda pop, coffee are all provided. Liquor is a cash bar. I’m sure it depends on your social circles, but I think that is a good compromise. 

Post # 9
660 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2017

It would be quite annoying to travel 2 hours to/from a wedding or stay overnight as well as having guests pay for their own drinks – hope you wouldn’t be expecting very generous gifts lol! 

Post # 10
658 posts
Busy bee

I’m curious to see how this differs in the USA/UK. I’m from the UK and the vast majority of the weddings I’ve been to have been ‘cash bars’ (assuming that means where you pay for your own drinks). As far as I’m aware that’s the norm over here and isn’t considered rude at all.

Maybe it’s different if you’re in wealthier circles, or are in circles who are known for quite big weddings, but otherwise a ‘free bar’ is a bonus not an expectation. 

Post # 11
97 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2019

View original reply
peach11 :  I agree. Also from the UK and cash bar is normal and not considered rude.

Usually there’s at least a welcome drink though, maybe some wine on the table, or a drink for the toasts. Some of our friends did vouchers so everyone got a couple of drinks free and then after that u pay for it yourself. 

We got married abroad and had an open bar as they’d all travelled but nobody expected it. 

Do whatever you can afford. 

Post # 12
1056 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

Cash bars are indeed normal in the UK. I don’t drink and am not offended by cash bars and my husband and I agreed to have one. 

My Mom, however, really wanted to contribute to the wedding by having an open bar for everything except cocktails or spirits. So we accepted her offer. 

I was really happy about it, because all our guests were very pleasantly surprised and complimentary about it. People actually drank less than we expected and we did not reach the upper limit cost we’d told the bar. I’m glad Mom convinced us. 

Post # 13
2208 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2018

What’s the norm where you live? Stick with that.

Here we put a generous tab on the bar and once that runs out, cash bar it is. 

Id find a 100% cash bar very rude.


Post # 14
874 posts
Busy bee

Of course everyone would prefer free alcohol. I really doubt you’ll hear anyone say they LIKE cash bars. A lot of bees already have strong opinions on how alcohol should be served, however, some alcohol may be better than no alcohol whatsoever. I’m not in the camp that alcohol is a requirement, and personally have yet to attend a wedding that served alcohol at all…but maybe that’s just what’s normal for my circle. I agree with PP to lean towards what’s common in your group of people. Although if you can afford it, I’d encourage you to provide an open bar in this case…because as you said yourself, guests are already paying a lot to travel to your wedding. Either free alcohol, or no alcohol…but even then, destination guests will likely be really disappointed if there’s no alcohol. 

Post # 15
9426 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

View original reply
ericaleesi :  we did open bar. I don’t expect people to pay for drinks if they come to a party at my house so why would I make them pay at my wedding? Venue and scale doesn’t matter to me – if you host you do it fully. That said I don’t think you need to provide unlimited options either – dry weddings, beer/wine only, etc are perfectly fine but seeing anything for sale at a wedding sets off my tacky alarm. 

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