(Closed) Why are cash bars tacky?

posted 8 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 244
13901 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

View original reply
@littlelucygoose:  I’m sorry this got so out of hand, and I hope nothing I said was offensive.  This is one of those topics that divides people here on WB.  Please don’t feel bad!  I’m pretty sure no one was aiming their comments at you, but just the idea in general.  It’s your wedding, and you should do what you want and celebrate how you want.  Just keep in mind, people feel differently about their own weddings.  When you ask for opinions, you’ll get them here.

And a second note… you were the one that came up with the word “tacky” here.  Your thread is titled “Why are cash bars tacky?” which is just asking for people to respond with why they believe they are, or to dispute your initial question.

I actually have decided to stop using the word “tacky” in general on here since it has such bad connotations and now just makes me think of a huge bicker-fest!

Post # 245
1140 posts
Bumble bee

Personally, I feel if you are inviting guests, you should provide them with drinks. It’s the proper thing to do as a host. For example, you don’t invite people over for dinner and then say please bring your own food. I think the compromise of not wanting to pay fully for alcohol is to pay for them to have 2 drinks, and then they can pay for the rest after that. 

Post # 246
6659 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2010

I think it’s important to keep in mind that once you invite guests to your wedding, you are hosting a party. So it’s not so crazy for them to expect to be fed and given some kind of refreshment, most likely alcoholic – for free. With the exception of people who are super religious and against the idea of alcohol at all, I think alcohol should be available at every wedding reception, whether it’s free, partially free, limited menu, or cash bar. If you can afford it, an open bar is ideal. But not everyone can and that doesn’t mean you should feel bad about having a wedding. So the next step would be to give drink tickets or provide wine and beer for free. If that’s still not doable, even with stretching the budget, then at least make sure there’s a cash bar and spread the word ahead of time. IT doesn’t have to be on the invitation, but that is what your bridal party is for!

I hate the word “tacky”, but honestly the only thing ‘tacky’ about having a cash bar would be a scenario where the hosts of the wedding could clearly afford to provide an open bar but chose not to in order to cut costs. I don’t think that’s where you should be cutting back in order to have a fancier honeymoon or invite more guests (for more gifts). That’s just my personal opinion though and I’ve never judged anyone for having a cash bar!

Post # 247
3175 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I would never be offended if someone offered a cash bar, but I would never do one myself. We won’t even put out a tip jar to lower our catering costs, it’s just not ‘us’s. I feel like this about a lot of wedding related things. we spent very little on flowers, invites, dress, suit, accesories, but we will not skimp on food or bar. Granted, our wedding is on A Sunday, because that’s how we can afford to properly host our guests, so some people would call me rude, but I’m making the effort to be the best hostess possible, and that’s really all that matters to me. I’ll know I did my best, and, if my guests are still unhappy, that’s on them, not me 🙂

Post # 248
95 posts
Worker bee

I don’t think I can offer anything that hasn’t already been said but I do agree that it’s a regional thing.  All of the (very large) weddings I’ve attended around here have been open bar.  We’re having 600+ people and will have an open bar.  It was a very large part of the budget, but it was budgeted for.

Post # 249
118 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 2012

View original reply
@starbuck: It’s the truth! It’s not a necessity. No one is saying that your going to be thirsty all night. The OP said there will be other options, but its really rude and selfish to consider someone tacky because you couldn’t have a drink. & If I’m the host and if I choose not to pay for alcohol, I don’t see anything wrong with giving people the option to buy drinks for themselves. In my opinion “making people feel welcomed and cared for” is not determined by alcohol or food. LOL! I actually have been to a wedding without food. I didn’t turn up my nose at the bride and groom. I was there to support them. I was informed before hand and I had no issues & I had a great time.

And I want to add I wasn’t trying to be harsh with my comment. I was just trying to make a point because others made it seem as though not having alcohol was so dire.

Post # 250
561 posts
Busy bee

@littlelucygoose:  back to your original q: i dont think cash bars are tacky.

i was looking up some old weddingbee posts and ive learned in some geo areas cash bars are the norm, and some people have never been to a wedding w/open bar.

minus one wedding, ive only been to open bar weddings but i know thats due to my social circle and area. the one woman who did do cash bar was smart because all the guys invited were frat boys and we were fresh out of college!

i had previously said i think it’s nice as a guest not to open my wallet which remains true–so if there’s a cash bar then it’s my choice to not pay for a drink. i think it’s nice that ive already been provide dinner. seriously and truly!!!

im not so attached to alcohol that it’s going to ruin my life by not getting a free drink. and i wont judge the host or hostess because i understand everyone has their own budget and relationship and culture w/alcohol.

it’s definitely YOUR day. if someone is invited to your wedding who is supposed to be close to you and theyre judging you on ANY choice from dress, to theme, to colors, to menu, to bar, then obviously theyre not there for the right reason which is to celebrate your wedding.

i honestly think youve already made a nice compromise which is to have open bar for a couple hours. i wouldnt take anything said here personally. it’s just weddingbee! roses and tulle and puppies!

Post # 251
5398 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: November 1999


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Post # 272
12 posts
  • Wedding: June 2013

Since alcoholism runs both in my family and my fiance’s family, I object to the idea that hosts are obligated to provide alcoholic beverages for their guests. If we’re paying for dinner, other beverages, gifts, etc., I feel like the alcoholic drinks are gravy, an extra that’s nice but by no means an obligation. After all, when I host dinners in my home, I don’t usually provide alcohol, but since there’s water, juice, soda, and sometimes even mocktails, I don’t think it’s rude. Nobody goes hungry or thirsty, and we all have a good time. And as for not wanting guests to have to pay for anything, they don’t. Guests can have all the food and non-alcoholic drinks they want, plus champagne for the toast, and if they want other drinks, they’re available for purchase… Besides, it seemed silly for us to pay an $X per head fee when about half of our guests won’t be drinking at all.

Post # 252
6262 posts
Bee Keeper

I’m in the UK at its totally normal to have bars where you pay for your drinks. I’d be surprised to go to wedding where all drinks were covered. It’s usual to have welcome drinks/toast/bottle of wine on tables etc all put on my the bride and groom but beyond that and for a wedding that has a party/disco people totally expect to buy their own. 

Post # 253
208 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

My husband comes from a large family, and I come from a small, but very poor family.  We had free soda, courtesy of my mother, but it was a cash bar.  I put it in the invitation so everyone would know, but as it turns out, most other weddings in my husband’s family work the same way.  I am not offended by providing my own beverages to any given event (i drink diet soda, so I often do), so I cannot imagine how people could be offended if someone else doesn’t provide them expensive drinks for free.  Plus, this is Wisconsin…most people do not practice moderation when it comes to alcohol here.

Reality says if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it, and that doesn’t mean you have to skip throwing a party.  All this crap about tackiness is just silly.

Post # 254
1362 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

I agree! We are having a cocktail reception with beer and wine provided. We will also have wine on the tables at dinner. If you want to get drunk that’s great but you are invited to a wedding not a university drunk fest! I do not feel comfortable going to weddings with open bars. It’s such a strange thing to me! I do not need you to pay for my night???? My friend had one with the grooms family being heavy drinkers and their bar tab alone was half of my entire wedding Cos! 

Post # 255
1604 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

No one is obliged to provide an open bar.  There are different customs in every country,  but in most places in the US, if you invited people to a party, you pay.  If you just want to provide wine at the tables, that is fine.  

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