(Closed) Open Bar vs. Cash bar- Advice

posted 11 years ago in Food
Post # 3
1585 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2010

We are doing a cash bar because that is the norm around here. We are also debating getting a pony keg or a premade “jug” of a sig drink hosted by us

Post # 3
442 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2009

I’d say put as much as you feel comfortable towards the bar.  If the entire amount is not spent, then perhaps your venue will reimburse you the extra.

Post # 4
3930 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

can you just limit it to maybe wine and beer instead?

Post # 5
1351 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

How many guests are you having. I’m sorry to say that $500 will not go far in terms of bar expenses.

What about covering beer/wine and maybe a signature drink but cocktails would be cash?


Post # 6
8246 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2010

What about a limited open bar?  Like just wine and beer?  Personally (and I KNOW this is a regional thing so no one give me crap – this is my personal opinion), I HATE cash bars.  You’d never invite people to your house and ask them to pay you for food and their drinks and in my mind, a cash bar is doing the same thing.  No one will be upset that you don’t have liquor if it is out of your budget (wine and beer prices are much more reasonable) but since it doesn’t seem that cash bars are the norm in your area (otherwise you wouldn’t be asking this), you will likely have people upset over having to pay for drinks.

Post # 7
115 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

Oh boy! You just opened the flood gates! LOL

You are going to get every different answer possible on this post but here is what I think. I think cash bars are acceptable. I am from the northeast and I never go to a wedding expecting it to be open bar. If it is, its just an added bonus. But you’ll get plenty of bees that are going to argue that it’s wrong or they may even use the “T” word (tacky).

You have to do what’s right for you and if that’s all you can afford then so be it. Your guests should be there to celebrate with you your special day, not to get all the food and drink they can muster like hibernating bears! Most packages come with open bar for an hour as well so if you can manage that and then put a cap toward the bar your guests should get free drinks at least up until dinner. Or pay the $500 and give everyone a drink ticket. That way everyone only gets one drink and isn’t taking from others.

Good Luck!

Post # 8
672 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

we did an open bar for about 75 guests and it costs us about $1700.00 for 5 hours of drinking, which included severl beers, wines, and wells. I would say avoid a cash bar if you can, i dont think anyone should have to pay for anything when they attend a wedding, do not offer alcohol if you cannot afford to cover the tab i say.

Post # 9
448 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

You best bet is going to be if you can buy the alcohol in advance because it will be cheaper (instead of having it bought from the venue). Or you can provide some of the alcohol (beer and wine, perhaps) and have all liquor be cash only. You could also do drink tickets, where everyone get one or two drinks, but then after that they have to pay. I would say, as a guest who doesn’t drink a lot, it’s best if you can provide some sort of alcohol, but I understand not wanting to buy everyone 5+ drinks. 

Post # 10
451 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

I think a cash bar is fine, like @soontobewalsh said, i don’t expect an open bar at weddings.  Personally, I KNOW that most people at our wedding won’t be drinking and I don’t want people getting “wasted”.  We’re going to have a champagne toast, and a cash bar will be available.

I attended a wedding last year with a cash bar and it was fine, I didn’t miss the drinks!!  I also attended an open bar wedding last month and everyone was packing the bar for drinks and hardly danced…responses may vary, go for what you can afford!!!  Your wedding is about what you want (AND, can afford)

Post # 12
1676 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

I agree with @soontobewalsh you will get a ton of people bitching about how they think cash bars are tacky BUT only you can know what’s acceptable in your group of friends and what you can afford to spend on it.

I think doing beer and wine would allow you to afford more drinks for your guests, then have mixed drinks available for purchase. You can include that on an info card in your invite or on your wedding website so people know to bring cash if they plan on drinking hard liquor.

I’d mention something along the lines of “Join us for a reception following. Wine and beer will be provided.”

Post # 13
1953 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

You definitely have to do what is right for you guys.  You should not go into debt just so you can supply alcohol to people. 

I think the 1 drink per person thing might be kinda tough.  I don’t really like the idea of having to deal with drink coupons at a wedding. 

The cap is nice because it does limit the amount you guys have to spend.  $500 seems low to me though, but it depends on how many people you are having and how expensive the drinks are.  If you are afraid of not everyone getting a drink or the limit running out too soon then maybe think about still putting a limit but also limit the drinks to some “cheap” options such as just beer, and wine and maybe 1 cocktail. 

I always think its nice to have wine with dinner and beer for the guys.  Anything more than that isn’t really needed I don’t think. 

Is there any way you guys can stock the bar yourselves?  $500 could go a long way if you buy a few kegs and a couple cases of wine. 

Post # 14
455 posts
Helper bee

i really don’t understand why it is considered tacky/lame/rude to have cash bars. i think cash bar is a great alternative to those who can’t afford to have open bar. you should definitely only offer what you can afford instead of going into debt after a happy beginning in life.

with regards to the house party example, the host only prepares what he/she can afford, correct? you may go to a house party in beverly hills where the host supplies premium liquor and expensive food such as fra gras, you may also to go another house party in an apartment where the host prepares simple sandwiches and soft drinks. however, in both cases, the host will definitely tell the guests to feel free to bring other things that the guests would like to eat at the party. also, in both cases, a guest should not expect the host to supply what he/she (the guest) PREFERS to have, rather, the guest should bring the “extras” that he/she wants to have at the party.

therefore, in this case, this couple will be supplying the amount of alcohol that they can afford. even if they can’t afford any alcohol and opt to a cash bar, no one should judge them because they are providing the option to their guests just like a house party host would tell their guests to bring whatever else they want.

Post # 16
4 posts
  • Wedding: August 2011

Maybe I’m just a stickler for etiquette, but I really think a cash bar is tacky. We’re just doing beer, wine and champagne at our wedding though which REALLY cuts down on the cost. Whatever you do, I would really recommend against putting a set amount toward the bar because you’re right, if the heavy drinkers are first in line, the last guy is going to be slighted that he had to pay and others didn’t.

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