(Closed) Cash Bar???

posted 12 years ago in Beehive
Post # 17
161 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

we wanted an open bar too but couldn’t justify spending that kind of money.  Luckily for us, our venue allows us to have cognac or rum (one at each table), so we’re doing half and half for those needing a drink.  We didn’t want our guests to have to pay the high cost the bar was charging!

Post # 18
388 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2019

If you’re on a budget, I like the idea above of an open bar for just an hour during cocktails so guests have at least an opportunity for one drink.  To keep costs down, just offer beer and wine during that hour.

Then you can switch to a cash bar during dinner.

I also think age is a factor.  If you’re in your 20s and most guests have not been through the wedding process, they will have that mentality that weddings are a great reason to get loaded on free booze.

We were in our 30s by the time our wedding rolled around, and most of our guests didn’t really need the reason to get smashed anymore, but expected at least a drink or two.


Post # 19
68 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

i dont think u should have a cash bar at all at any point throughout the night. if its possible, you should have at least unlimited wine & beer and then not offer anything else. especially, starting out with an open bar and then switching it on people into a cash bar, i think is kinda rude. i understand ur on a budget, but especially if it is an afternoon or evening wedding, the alcohol should be budgeted into your budget.

Post # 20
9 posts

Ha ha I love the "we’re in our 30s and no longer drink for free like those crazy twenty year olds!!"


We’re in our twenties and some of the first of our friends to get married. You better believe they’ll be DRANKIN’!!!


We’re having full open, but I see no problem at all with a limited beer/ wine option.


I think it would be better to have no alcohol than a cash bar. People come expecting to be served, regardless of what the drink options are. 

Post # 21
202 posts
Helper bee

for me, definitely no on cash bar. but yes on bar, so work within your means. perhaps budget for a 1 hour or 2 hour hosted bar (where the venue keeps a tab until you reach your budget of lets say $1500). cut something else out if you need to? i don’t believe in cash bars, but if you can’t work in alcohol any other way, i suppose you have to do what you have to do. g’luck!

Post # 22
123 posts
Blushing bee

I think cash bar is rather tacky, it’s like inviting people to your house then charging them for drinks. ( I don’t mean to offend anybody, but even worse is to give your guests drink tickets. Feels like rations in 3rd world country).

I think limited bar, aka wine and beer or full open bar for cocktail hour then wine/beer option is happy compromise. Even dry wedding is fine, as long as ther is SOMETHING to drink. I was once invited to a wedding where there was lack of any beverage other than water. They had one canister of iced tea, one canister of lemonade and one canister of coffee for 200 ppl. By the time I made my way to either of those vessels, they were empty ( and this was about 2hrs into reception), no refills for the rest of the evening. I flew 2 hrs for this wedding only to drink water all night. I found it disrespectful towards guests.

Post # 23
95 posts
Worker bee

I think it’s fine that people have opinions on this subject, that is obviously what you’re all here for. But keep in mind when you are giving your advice that some people just don’t have unlimited funds to spend on every aspect of their wedding, and everyone will have a preference for something they want to spend a lot of money on.

Also, the cost of drinks varies widely depending on where your wedding is being held. For example it is over $1,000 for me to offer one drink of beer/wine to each of my guests (more for liquor). For two students getting married this cost is enormous!

I really don’t think we should make fellow weddinbees feel inadequate because they are not spending thousands of dollars that they don’t have on liquor if it’s not important to them……

just a little something to think about….

Post # 24
402 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2008

We wont be serving alcohol.

we are having a lunch reception and thankfully the venue we are booking does not allow alcohol. had we went with another venue, we still wouldnt be having alcohol bc just feeding our guests is straining our budget.

had we went with an evening wedding, we would still be having a dry reception.

i agree with legallyengaged. everyone can not just budget alcohol in their event. as we are trying to just cover the bare basics, alcohol just isnt important.

my Fiance and I aren’t drinkers. its our party, so we dont feel bad at all about their not being a drop of alcohol in the place.  

Post # 25
383 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

eeeew i hate cash bar…but if ya cant swing it – ya cant swing it – it shouldnt be the cause of so much stress…

money is just money – it cannot buy happiness

 hands down the most important thing is to have all the people you love around you to celebrate

a bottle of wine at each table or maybe no alcohol at all??

Post # 26
98 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: May 2008

I agree that a dry reception is fine and can be really charming, especially for an afternoon wedding with iced tea, lemonade, and fun soft drinks like that (if you go this route, consider fun soft drinks, or a local soft drink favorite). 

However, it’s always best to not have guests pay for alcohol if you’re going to have it at your wedding.  Trader Joe’s and Costco both do a great job with inexpensive wine.  Trader Joe’s 2006 Coastal Fume Blanc, for example, is a great dry white for $4 a bottle!  To give you an idea of how many people this could serve, if you budget 4 drinks for 150 guests for a whole reception (very generous for a 4 hour reception!), that = 600 drinks.  If there are 5 glasses of wine in a bottle (have a bartender pour and pour smallish glasses to budget!), this = 120 bottles of wine, or about $480 at wine that’s $4/bottle.  Not too bad.  Sangria is also a great option and is cheap to make (and is a perfect use for the not incredible bottle of cheap wine), and keg beer (covered behind a bar table and served neatly into cups by a bartender) is super cheap as well.  I only mention this if serving alcohol is important to you.

That said, as many have mentioned–money can’t buy happiness.  If you can’t stretch your dollar, forget about it and don’t serve alcohol!  Your guests will be happy to celebrate with you with booze or not.

Post # 27
136 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: July 2009

IMO, it is never ok, and is extremely tacky.

Post # 28
129 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

In Nova Scotia it is very rare to have an open bar.  Often, the bride and groom will pay for the drinks during the dinner and then either offer drink tickets to the guests or a cash bar for the dance.  Not every couple is made of money, and having an open bar can be a HUGE expense.  I really think it depends on where you are, what the venue will allow you to serve (some places will only let you serve their drinks at a price, others will let you serve homebade brew!) and what your budget will allow.  I’ve been to weddings with cash bars, open bars and homemade alcohol (wine and beer) and none of them have ever seemed tacky to me.  I just went and had a good time. 🙂 

Post # 29
20 posts
  • Wedding: December 1969

I think the best article I ever read on having a cash bar said that if all you can afford to do is have a Vodka and Mr. Pibb behind the bar, but it’s still open and people can take as much of those two drinks as they want, you’ll have a lot of happy, slightly tipsy, wedding guests walking around saying,

Guest 1: "Whatcha drinking?"

Guest 2: "Vodka Pibb. How bout you?"

Guest 1: "Ditto"


We’ve having an open  bar(but only cause my parents are paying!) and we’re the most excited for the fresh apple cider  that willalso be served.

Post # 30
59 posts
Worker bee

I actually think this might have more to do with your guests & what they expect at a wedding:

If alcohol is central to your family gatherings or friends–but you feel like you can’t afford an open bar, or a limited bar just won’t do it–then your guests might be happier to have a cash bar than no bar at all.

If you think your friends or family will be happy with a limited bar (just wine or just beer or select cocktails or just an hour or WHATEVER), then head in that direction. I tend to think that a limited bar option is better, but I also realize that most of my guests will probably not bat an eye at that…

Post # 31
14 posts

i personally don’t like the analogy "you wouldn’t invite a person to your house and ask them to pay for liquor"…if you think of your reception (after the dinner) as a party – you wouldn’t ask girlsfriends to go out for a night of dancing and then be expected to buy all of their drinks.

2 bottles of wine or something per table during dinner (even homemade!) and then rest cash bar seems to be norm around here….but then again I’m in Canada

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