(Closed) Why are cash bars tacky?

posted 9 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 17
2755 posts
Sugar bee

The only time I find it tacky is when EVERYTHING, including water and soft drinks, must be paid for by your guests. If you’re going to provide them with food, you should be prepared to pay for beverages to quench their thirst. It’s just common sense.

Personally, I’d rather have no alcohol at all than make my guests pay for it, but that’s up to each couple imo.

However, when a cash alcohol bar becomes tacky/rude is when the hosts make ZERO indication on the invitations, wedding website, etc. that this is going to happen. I rarely carry cash with me, and I know lots of people who would not attend a wedding with much if any cash on them. It’s just not something I would think about, yannow? If I knew ahead of time, of course I’d bring cash. But if guests don’t know, then many are, rightfully, going to be a little peeved.

So tell your guests 🙂

Post # 18
1561 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

I don’t think you should host a party and then expect your guests to pay for any of it. I wouldn’t have a party at my house and ask for 5 bucks for a glass of wine.

Post # 19
7309 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2011 - Bed & Breakfast

I think they are seen as rude because you are hosting a party, these are your guests, and you are expecting them to pay for their own drinks. You wouldn’t ask your friends for cash if you invited them over to your house for dinner and drinks, so why do it at a wedding? I think that asking guests to pay for themselves is seen as not being a good host. And for some people, not being a good host is a huge faux pas.

Post # 20
3622 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I’d do wine and beer over a cash bar, but that’s just me! Or close the bar all together after the alotted amount of time that I was willing to pay for.

Post # 21
7581 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2010

I think it’s tacky. Don’t invite me to your party and then expect for me to pay. My #1 issue with a cash bar: Who carries cash anymore? I don’t and no one I know does. 

It may be regional as another PP said. Here, it’s quite uncommon and when it does happen, people complain about it. My cousin had a cash bar and my husband and I were sitting with complete strangers and every single one of them complained about it.  She also told me a couple days later that everyone left around 10pm even though they had their venue until 1am. I know it was because it was a cash bar. People just aren’t as willing to get on the dance floor and let loose.


Post # 22
5295 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: January 1993

I guess I’m disagreeing with a few people here – what if you or your Fiance are not big fans of alcohol – why should you have to pay to provide alcohol? It was not something we budgeted for because I don’t think it’s necessary – and water, milk, coffee, and pop were all free. I guess I don’t see that alcohol is something that has to be at a wedding. It would never bother me to go to weddings where it’s cash, if I want alcohol, I can pay for it. In fact, I always take cash with me to weddings, because it’s fairly common in our area.

What’s really annoying is when you go to a wedding that doesn’t even have water for free.

Post # 23
1303 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

I dont like them myself however I would deal.

BUT I dont really see the options for brides who dont have the money for it.  When they suggest not having alcohol at all, people fly into a rage about that also.  So it seems these brides just can’t win.  Do what you can and people will have to deal with it.  

Post # 24
13905 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I am one of the bees that does find a cash bar tacky. I wouldn’t invite someone over for a dinner party and ask them to pay for their drinks, and a wedding reception is really just a large party you’re hosting.  If you invite someone to an event, you should be prepared to give them food and drink.  I get very put off by people who invite me to a party and then ask me to pay for my own drinks, after I put the expense in getting there, a gift for them, giving them my time….  It’s rude to not be hospitable to your guests, and hospitality includes beverages, whether they be water, beer, or a rum and coke.   

Post # 25
37 posts
  • Wedding: September 2012

I think if you cannot afford and open bar for the full reception that’s fine, and not rude at all. I think hosting for only a few hours is fine, just be sure that your DJ announces when it will be turning to a cash bar.

If you are really worried about people being offended, perhaps you could host a full bar during cocktail hour and switch to beer and wine for the remainder of the reception. Or you may want to choose to have just beer and wine; or beer, wine, and a signature cocktail or two.

If someone is rude and tacky enough to ask you about it, you call tell them it’s for liability proposes. I’ve been to more than one or two wedding that close or turn the bar to cash an hour or two before the end to limit the risk of drunk driving.  


Post # 26
653 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

I don’t know why cash bar or no bar would offend anyone… is it your wedding? I’ve been to both and it was just as fun. This is why there is so much stress and drama with planning a wedding… you have to be a people pleaser. Bar is the same as someone complaining they can’t bring a guest, they don’t like the date, etc.

Post # 27
454 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

I really don’t see cash bars as tacky.  You are already being taken care of and entertained in so many different ways, and so, if you choose to drink, you should pay for it.  But, that seems to be the norm where I’m at.  Open bars are pretty rare and people tend to have paid wine/beer with everything else cash bar.

Post # 28
7429 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2009

View original reply
@hisgoosiegirl  I agree. We had to provide alcohol, so we did just beer and wine, but let our friends know if they wanted to bring their own they were welcome to.  I think as long as you let people know in advance, it is fine. Most people, like myself, don’t carry cash unless necessary

Post # 29
1697 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

I am having a hosted bar for two hours and then it will be a cash bar after that. We decited it would be cheaper for us to buy rounds of drinks for our friends all night than to pay for an open bar. And yes, we plan to “waste” ( as other people have put it) our time on our wedding night to buy 20 rounds oe more of drinks all night. I do feel it is my job to pay for my guests to drink and this is the only way we can afford to do it. I dont trust the venue to “keep a tab” as how would I know if it was accurate? If what I am doing is “tacky” I am sure my fam and friends wont be offended. my friends are NOT those kinds of people and if they were, they wouldn’t be my friends. I have been to 3 weddings with a cash bar. The first time I was horrified. They didnt tell anyone til we got there. I thoiught that was inconsiderate. The last two had told us ahead of time so we all BYOB’d it. And I am telling my frineds and fam throug h word of mouth that it will be a cash bar after 2 hours so to BYOB. I guess my circle is “tacky” like that.

Post # 30
2063 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

I think it depends on the number of people that are going to be at your wedding. I would never expect, even the richest of the rich, to provide free alcohol for 200 guests. However, if I’m going to small outdoor wedding or backyard bbq and you make me pay for alcohol, seriously? We are having approx. 50 guests and will be providing all of the alcohol, transportation, etc. If we had 300 guests, this would be impossible.

Post # 31
1755 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

When you’re having a wedding or any other event, you are hosting people as your guests.  Traditionally when you host a guest in a social situation, you are responsible for seeing to your guests needs which includes food and drink during the event.  That doesn’t mean alcohol has to be offered, but the guest should not be obligated to pay for it.

Cash bars are gradually gaining some acceptance, although they are a subject of debate on many wedding oriented boards.  In modern times I think it’s a matter a personal taste and preference.  

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