(Closed) Open vs Cash Bar Debate-bit long

posted 11 years ago in Reception
  • poll: Is the open bar obsolete?
    Yep, it's ridiculously expensive : (20 votes)
    19 %
    Yes, it doesn't happen in my area/ culture : (10 votes)
    9 %
    No, it's a must : (59 votes)
    55 %
    Other - comment below : (19 votes)
    18 %
  • Post # 62
    1260 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: July 2012

    I think as long as you are providing some option for your guests to drink free-of-charge, you’re okay. Open bar is ideal, but signature drinks/beer/wine, then cash bar for anything else they want, is fine IMO.

    Post # 63
    820 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: February 2010

    Open bar is the norm among my friends/family. I’ve never been to a cash bar wedding. Before I found this site I’d only heard of it once – a girl I went to college with I wasn’t there but friends of mine told me about it, they’d never heard of it either. Since they were shuttled from the hotel to the reception, they had no cash on them and had to start a tab.

    I never bring cash with me to a wedding. It’s usually only a few dollars to tip the valet/bartender, etc. It’s pretty expected for our wedding.

    We are having an open bar. A premium bar is a waste of money, and we’ve instructed no shots because that’s when it just gets messy.

    Post # 64
    184 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: June 2011

    Oh wow, you US brides have a great deal when it comes to open bars! In western Canada, I would say it’s almost if not entirely unheard of to have a venue offer you a package deal on an open bar – it’s always per drink!

    For beer, this is usually in the $4 each neighbourhood (not so bad), but for wine or mixed drinks you could be looking at $6 or more, depending on the venue. So inviting fifteen or so college-age friends could make you $900 poorer, before the other guests even have a sip.

    Luckily in my area and social circle open bars are pretty much A Thing for Rich People, so they’re not super common. Certainly it’s a bonus, but everyone expects a cash bar at the reception. Even to have a hosted cocktail hour is not common. (No offense intended to open bar brides, I am just trying to illustrate that where I am from they are not expected except at the ritziest of weddings, so guests wouldn’t be disappointed if we didn’t.)

    For us, we’re going to be hosting our cocktail hour, free wine during dinner, and hopefully wine and beer during the reception as well (depending on how much of our food and drink budget is left.) This will be going far and above our guests’ expectations, and frankly we could never afford to do it with a larger wedding. I’m hoping that we can make it possible. 🙂

    Post # 65
    313 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: April 2010

    In my opinion, there shouldn’t be a need for guests to open their wallets during a wedding reception. I think it’s up to the couple and their budget when deciding what to serve: punch and cake, home cooked buffet, plated dinner with wine, cocktails with heavy apps, etc.. To me, the reception should be cohesive. It would seem odd to serve a gourmet meal with only water to drink, but it would be fine to have punch and soft drinks with a bbq buffet.

    On the East coast I’ve seen open, cash, and beer/wine only. As a guest, I’m fine not having an alcoholic drink, but I think it’s strange to have a pay-as-you-go option of a cash bar is odd.

    Post # 66
    46 posts
    • Wedding: December 1969

    @Hope – I don’t think it’s necessarily related to cost of living. I’ve also only been to open bar weddings, and didn’t really realize that people do cash bars. I think it’s fine, it’s just not the norm around here. And NY is not cheap. Based on the responses so far, it seems like it’s regional. When we looked at venues, they all gave us the price per person with open bar included. 

    Post # 67
    80 posts
    Worker bee
    • Wedding: August 2010

    It is definitely a regional thing. I’ve never been to an open bar wedding. Like other Canadian’s have mentioned, I’m having a toonie bar. There will be wine on the tables though. I’d never heard of a Jack & Jill party or a Dollar Dance before WeddingBee. To each her own! We will all have amazing weddings!

    Post # 68
    3968 posts
    Honey bee

    I picked my venue based on how they priced the alcohol.  I wouldn’t dream of selecting a venue that priced drinks ‘per drink’ (ie: what you’d expect to pay at a bar or restaurant) because not only could I not afford that, I’d feel completely taken advantage of.

    I know what alcohol costs – and, I don’t expect them to NOT make a profit on their services and bartenders, etc – but I refuse to get railroaded into spending exorbitant money on something like that.

    I think there are creative ways to get what’s important to you.  An open bar was important to us, so we made sure we made it happen within our budget (we are paying for the entire wedding).

    Personally, I’m tired of going to weddings where we are out a lot of money on drinks (wine or beer or cocktails).  If a wedding has wine/beer all night, then I’m fine.  But, when you have to pay for wine/beer, I feel it’s not taking care of your guests properly.  


    Post # 69
    1351 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: October 2011

    In my circle of friends and family- open bars are the norm! Ours is $50 per person in downtown Boston. I didn’t even blink when I saw the number because that’s what every place quoted!

    I recently went to a cash bar wedding and it would have been nice to know beforehand because (like lots of other bees have said)…I rarely carry enough cash! I can understand how an open bar might be too expensive for some, but at this wedding, it would have been nice to have the beer or wine covered. We walked in, put our card in the card box (couple didnt register, only asked for cash), turned the corner in the cocktail hour room and saw the register. *Ugh*.

    The Northeast is more expensive in comparison to other areas so maybe it is a bit regional? Or downtown city thing?



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