(Closed) Cash Bar/Open Bar

posted 13 years ago in Food
Post # 17
1458 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2008

We are having a free wine pour with Hor’dourves as well as free beer at that time, a free wine pour with dinner, beer as well (pretty much buying a keg or two and letting them go til empty) and then free champainge for the toast.

We are also offering a special non-alcoholic punch and coffe, pop and milk as well. All night long.


Post # 18
9 posts
  • Wedding: March 2008


We got around some of the expense of an open bar by limiting it to three hours, then switching to a host bar (where we pay per drink) for the last hour. Likely, most people will be on their way out by then.

 Another way I’ve seen to cut the cost of an open bar is to close the bar for an hour during dinner.


Post # 19
139 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2008

We are handing out drink tickets with the escort cards,  So they will get 2 free drinks and then we will also have red and wine wine on the table during dinner.   I really didn’t want to go with an open bar because I’ve see it abused so many times at weddings,  people leaving half-empty drinks everywhere or drinking way too much. 

I figure giving them two free drinks of their choice plus wine is plenty and if they would like more there will be a cash bar for additional drinks. 

Post # 20
41 posts
  • Wedding: January 2008

What Mr Pickle and I did for our wedding a few weeks ago was get 1 large keg ( Coors light) and 2 small kegs (Fat Tire and Deschutes Mirror Pond) of beer and went with a simple but sheik, i.e. cheap, martini bar.  All we did was buy Svedka vodka and assorted mixers (Chocolate, Dirty, Lemon Drop, Pomegranate, etc) and set 2 bottles of wine per table.  You can return unused bottles of alcohol and mixers to the store after the wedding if they are still there.  People were impressed, it was easy and we had a lot left over. Oh and not too many drunkards either which is amazing because our people can drink.

We did not have any of the bubbly because not many people actually drink it down so we saved money by cutting it and having people toast with what they had.  The DJ told the crowd to fill up their drinks because the toast was coming and no one missed the Champagne at all.

BevMo has an awesome 5 cent wine sale coming up which is how we saved money on the wine and they were supper helpful with the rest of the drinks too.  They even chilled the kegs, wine, vodka, etc for several weeks for us and all the Groom had to do was pick it up the morning of the wedding and take it to the reception venue. Hope this helps. 

If you can it is best to not make your guests pay for drinks…if you can

Good Luck,

Mrs. Pickle 

Post # 21
1245 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

vaguely related: when i told my dad i was going to a wedding with a cash bar he said, "that’s what flasks were invented for." ๐Ÿ™‚

Post # 22
27 posts
  • Wedding: July 2008

Amysue that’s funny!!!!

It’s interesting to read what everyone is doing.  I am trying to make my decision right now.  There are A LOT of alcoholics on my side and my Fiance and don’t drink.  We agreed no alcohol except for the toast for our lunch reception.  My brother said "that’s great…just have a bottle or two of wine on the table and you’re set!".  Yep, he didn’t get it.  I was a wedding coordinator for awhile and what I typically saw was a sign at the bar saying what was offered (wine, soda, ice tea, lemonade, coffee).  Once the guests sat, only water and ice tea or lemonade was served (so no wine glasses on the table).  Really, you know your guests best and what would work. 

Post # 24
40 posts
  • Wedding: June 2012
Post # 25
4 posts
  • Wedding: September 2007

What we did was a very limited open bar. We purchased a case of wine, a case of champagne, (a case being 12 bottles each) and two kegs, for a grand total of around $600 or so. (They charge quite a bit for the kegs because they count it like per drink instead of what a keg actually costs at the liquor store). I TOTALLY understand when people don’t agree that it looks super tacky to have a cash bar. We had the same monetary concerns. You have to look at what you are already giving your guests – it’s not like you are saying to bring their own takeout to the wedding, you are providing them with a celebration, a night where they can enjoy themselves, and a great dinner. While not paying for everyone’s alcohol might seem like an atrocity to those who can’t bear the thought socially, alcohol doesn’t have to be and isn’t going to be the number one priority of all your guests’ night. You have to look at it as an extra bonus. Drinking alcohol, in all other times in life, is considered optional. Dinner, not so much. In a way, why do people think it’s so necessary to provide your guests with alcohol? It’s almost like saying "I know this is going to be awkward and you might wish you stayed home, so we are going to pay for your alcohol so you stay here to make us look good". Does a random guy at a bar buy a girl a drink because it’s socially unacceptable NOT to? No, he buys it to impress her and to keep her around. (in a flirting situation that is).

 We were very lucky because even with our limited open bar, that alcohol lasted and I don’t believe anyone had to pay for any drinks. We had a certain amount of drinkers, but my husband’s side is a little anti-alcohol, so that helped a lot. For a 125-150 person reception, we all had a great time and didn’t have any complaints!

 If your guests know you well enough to come to your wedding, they should know you well enough to know that you aren’t meaning to be disrespectful by not paying for your drinks. When they come over for dinner, sure, it would be ridiculous to ask for money. But really, if some members of your family are pretentious and would literally be extremely offended by a cash bar, then I hate to say it, you’re not the one with the problem.

Post # 26
202 posts
Helper bee

we’re doing a hosted bar up to about $2K (they will let us know when we get close to the amount and we can choose to continue), placing cognac on each table, and having our servers serve red or white wine to each person who wants it. 

there is corkage fee for each of alcohol pieces, but that should still keep costs down, even though it is quite a bit.

i just think cash bars are not a great idea, so do what you can to work around it. good luck! 

Post # 27
105 posts
Blushing bee

I’d personally rather have an "okay" meal rather than a fantastic meal if it meant an open bar as opposed to cash. But that’s me – and and open bar was/is something important to Dear Fiance and I.

Post # 28
735 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2009

We are having beer and wine….  not sure where you are located but if you have a BevMo… just be patient for the NICKLE SALE…..

cash bar is a bummer….

Post # 30
193 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

Open bar is a high priority of mine and Fiance… I agree with the other birdes who have said that they’d rather have OK food and an open bar than stellar food and a cash bar.

Luckily for us, the venue/caterer we’re planning on using has both. Awesome tasty food and only $14/person for 6 hours of open bar!  In LA no less!

Post # 31
94 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

I hope no one misunderstood me and my previous comment.  While it is perfectly fine to not have alcohol at all at your reception, it is typically frowned upon to have a cash bar.  Lots of people don’t bring much money with them to weddings because they expect an open bar. 

I know that in my group of friends and family, alcohol is an expected part of a celebration, especially wine and champagne for toasts and I don’t think they should have to pay a dime to toast us, even though that creates a greater expense for Fiance and I.  I want my guests to all have a great time and I would have cut some other things in order to make sure that the people who do come have a fantastic time.  Just my personal feelings.

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