Bailey
Beginner September 2020

Cash bar seems like best option for us- but seems to be percieved as tacky

Bailey, on February 10, 2020 at 12:58 AM Posted in Wedding Reception 2 81
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Most of the replied I see on WW talk about how tacky and rude a cash bar is. But hear me out and please let me know if my situation is any different. I am leaning towards having a cash bar but doing either drink ticket/tokens or open bar during cocktail hour. I think cocktail hour would be nice but our cocktail hour will be outside while the bar is inside so idk if that would work. Our venue only charges $3-5 per drink and we will be providing soda, water, lemonade, and tea. First, I cannot afford an open bar, our parents aren't paying for everything and most of our wedding bill will fall on me. Second, there is no Uber, Lyft, or taxis where our venue is and most of our guests will be driving about an hour home and I really do not want anyone drinking and driving.. Third, I would hate to have guests over drink and cause a scene. Fourth, our guests should be there because they love us and want to celebrate with us, not for free booze. Am I wrong in thinking a cash bar will be best for us?

81 Comments

Latest activity by Amanda, on February 16, 2020 at 1:02 PM
  • Bailey
    Beginner September 2020
    Bailey ·
    • Flag
    And if a cash bar is the way to go for us, what's the best way to make sure our guests understand and don't judge us for it?
    • Reply
  • Onya
    Expert October 2020
    Onya ·
    • Flag
    It’s your money, wedding and decision! If cash bar is best for you do that. If they want to drink they’ll buy a drink. Those prices are really reasonable. Also drinking isn’t a necessity. Your wedding is the main celebration!! They can have sober fun if they don’t want to pay. 🤷🏽‍♀️❤️ Do what’s best for you period 🙌🏽 You gotta be able to pay bills after it’s all over. 🤣
    • Reply
  • D
    Dedicated July 2020
    D ·
    • Flag
    I think it would be perfectly fine if you cover 1 drink per person like in the form of a ticket or token. I’ve been to some really nice weddings where there was no such thing as a budget and that is how they had their bar set up. Like you said it doesn’t encourage people to get out of hand and over drink for their own safety.
    Make sure you list it in the invitation, for those that do want to have more then one they’ll want to be prepared and have cash or card on hand.
    • Reply
  • W
    Super September 2020
    Willow ·
    • Flag
    You can't control whether people judge you or not. If cash bar is all you can afford, then that's the reality. I am sure people would rather have cash bar than no bar at all. Bear in mind people who frequent these sites tend to be hyper in tune with etiquette, unlike most people IRL
    • Reply
  • Bailey
    Beginner September 2020
    Bailey ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Thank you Onya!!
    • Reply
  • Mandi
    Master October 2020
    Mandi ·
    • Flag
    I think cash bars are fine. They are the norm in my area. With beer being free, and recently wine being provided is a new thing.
    I do view drink tokens and tickets as tacky. But that has to do with the fact that the local school fundraisers sell drink tickets and their picnics and that's how you get your beer. (Heavily Catholic area.)
    We chose to only do wine and beer because our venue doesn't have their own bar and vendor. And we can know what the cost is going in.We're buying x number of kegs and x number of bottles of wine. We know going in that our cost for alcohol is $xxx.xx. and there is no sticker shock later.
    • Reply
  • Bryana
    Dedicated April 2021
    Bryana ·
    • Flag
    Our plan is cash bar to! It’s not in my budget nor do I want to make it in our budget. FH and I aren’t big drinkers anyway- we are roasting with sparkling cider! So for us we don’t feel like we should be paying for others to drink when we don’t drink. If people are coming only hoping for an open bar then they shouldn’t be there!
    • Reply
  • Kristen
    Master November 2020
    Kristen ·
    • Flag
    I agree with the other people above. I don't know why people assume that cash bars are tacky as they are not. I agree exactly with what you said. Anyone that attends your wedding. Is there for your celebration and not to get all liquored up. At the end of the day people can survive one night without drinking or they pay. I've been to two weddings that had no liquor and two weddings where it was a cash bar or maybe even got like one free drink and I didn't think twice about it. It bothers me when people or articles say that you should not make your guest pay for drinks. You should properly take care of them, but they're going based on the person that has the $30,000 average to spend on a wedding and not everyone does.
    • Reply
  • Kerri
    Savvy April 2022
    Kerri ·
    • Flag
    I think that if you:
    1. Can't afford it
    2. Are worried about drinking and driving3. You don't want any scenes madeThan maybe the best option is a cash bar. If your friends and family love and know you well enough they are completely going to understand. I think possibly put a little note with your invite so people know to bring cash.
    I am only paying for a keg of beer and some champagne for the toast. if they want anything else they have to pay for it themselves. I can not afford to purchase anything else my FH and I are footing the entire bill. We are having 100 guests. I cant imagine what a open bar would cost us.
    • Reply
  • Sarah
    Master September 2019
    Sarah Online ·
    • Flag
    You know your guests best, but I can tell you that at the couple of cash bar weddings I’ve attended (they aren’t popular in my social circle) people still got drunk and at one one of the groomsmen and his girlfriend got into a shouting match just outside the ballroom. If it’s all you can afford, it’s all you can afford, but the other stuff can happen with or without an open bar.
    • Reply
  • MOB So Cal
    January 2019
    MOB So Cal ·
    • Flag

    How a cash bar is likely to be perceived is dependant on what's common in your circle. If "everyone" has cash bars where you live, then I'd assume many guests will expect it. In our family/social circle, a cash bar would be highly unusual, so those guests would likely find it at least odd (and perhaps "tacky" -- especially if money was spent freely on other aspects of the wedding). Clearly, you can and need to do what you want, but I think there are some flaws in your reasoning. A cash bar will NOT prevent people from potentially getting drunk and/or driving when they shouldn't (people get drunk and then drive away from bars every day after they've paid for their own drinks...), so saying that's why you're having a cash bar doesn't really make sense. If you truly didn't want those things to happen, the logical response would be to have a dry wedding, not a cash bar. Based on what you've shared, you're having a cash bar because that's what you can afford. That's fine, but own your reasoning.

    Also, realize that if alcohol is "free" during a portion of the wedding, like cocktail hour, and your guests know that (which they should so they aren't caught off guard when they go back later for another drink and have to pay for it), it increases the chance that people will drink much more heavily during that hour (potentially on fairly empty stomachs) and will get drunk more quickly and earlier in the night....

    I truly understand it's a tough decision. Good luck!

    • Reply
  • Chrysta
    Master November 2022
    Chrysta ·
    • Flag
    I will say that personally, I find cash bars tacky. Nothing to do with “Wedding etiquette“... just personal feelings of what is properly hosting guests. You are inviting people to an event. Because you are the host, I do not think it is right to ask people to open their wallets. When you invite friends to your home for dinner, do you request they pay you for their drinks? No, of course not. Why? Because that’s rude.
    We chose to cut costs elsewhere in order to properly host our guests. Obviously it is your wedding, and you can choose to do whatever you wish. However, as PP stated, having a cash bar versus open bar is not going to prevent the concerns you listed above. The only way to prevent people becoming too intoxicated or driving while intoxicated is to have a dry wedding. Which might be a great option for you, as you said you and your spouse are not big drinkers. Another option would be to only provide beer and wine free of cost. It saves a ton of money, while still allowing you to offer your guests alcoholic beverages they do not have to pay for. Maybe check with the venue and see what that would cost compared to providing drink tickets. (I would definitely steer clear of drink tickets for your wedding – it has a carnival ride/charity auction feel to it). But again, it is your wedding. You know your crowd better than anyone.
    • Reply
  • R
    Super September 2018
    Rachel ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Totally agree with all of this.



    Plus an open bar isn’t a parent’s responsibility, plenty of couples pickup the bill for the bar or even the full wedding. The OP justifications are pretty judgmental, as if anyone who hosted an open bar intended for their nearest and dearest to get drunk, cause a scene and drive themselves home. 😂🤦🏼‍♀️
    • Reply
  • Kari
    Master May 2020
    Kari ·
    • Flag

    I think partial cash bars are fine, I just think its super tacky to make guests pay for all of their own alcohol. But if you offer free drinks during cocktail hour having guests pay for their own drinks later is okay, as long as guests are aware of the fact. Usually a small sign at the bar is sufficient to notify guests to drink up early while the drinks are still free (to them).

    Note: Contrary to an earlier poster I haven't noticed that guests go overboard when they know drinks are only free for a short period of time. Rather, for example, if I'm at a wedding and drinks are free for only the first hour, I'll get my first drink early and then my second drink right before the open bar closes. I'm still spacing out my drinks and not chugging them, I'm just making sure I get one more free drink instead of waiting another 10 minutes and paying extra for it at the start of dinner.


    Some couples will also do open beer/wine but cash liquor, or will offer wine included with the meal at no cost as well as champagne for a toast but guests pay for any additional drinks. I really feel that as long as guests can have a drink or two on you, then it is okay to have them pay for extra beyond that. You don't need to have free flowing alcohol in all forms all night long to be a good host.

    • Reply
  • Kaysey
    Super February 2020
    Kaysey ·
    • Flag

    At the end of the day, you have to do what is right for you and your budget. My FH and I are also paying for our whole wedding but my FH really wanted a full open bar, so that is what we will be providing our guests with. Just because some do a full open bar, doesn't mean everyone has to. My FH and I budgeted for us to have one, and my FH isn't a fan of cash bars, so that's why we're doing a full open bar. If it works better with your budget to do a cash bar, then do a cash bar. Don't let other people's opinions of it being tacky and rude weigh on you. I understand that this is for advice and opinions, but don't let the ones that disagree with what you're doing upset you. They aren't paying for your wedding, you are Smiley smile


    The only thing I would say is if you plan on having a cash bar, you should let your guests know ahead of time. This way, if they plan on drinking alcohol, they know to bring cash with them. It's better not to catch them off guard with a cash bar.

    • Reply
  • Molly
    Dedicated October 2020
    Molly ·
    • Flag

    I do not think cash bars are tacky. it's whatever the couple wants. we are having a full hosted bar, but only because my fiances parents are helping a ton with costs. if they weren't helping, we would have beer wine and soda free and they pay for liquor. if that's the prices for drinks at your venue, people should me more than fine with paying that. that's a steal. at the end of the day, it's your wedding. and if you aren't big drinkers to begin with, then that's totally fine. don't stress about it Smiley smile

    • Reply
  • Mrs. Lewis
    Devoted August 2020
    Mrs. Lewis ·
    • Flag
    Hey girl I definitely understand.. If you are paying for most of it yourself you can only do what your budget allows. Maybe you could incorporate an open bar for a hour sometime during the reception? or just have wine and beer? My wedding is 4 hours and we decided to do an open bar for 2 hours only bc of budget. I do feel like since we drink and our families drink it was a priority to have. Since guest are coming and most likely bringing monetary gifts the last thing I want them to do is pay for something at my wedding (that’s just me). However it’s nothing wrong with a cash bar, I would do it vs no bar if I had to.
    • Reply
  • Pirate & 60s Bride
    Legend March 2017
    Pirate & 60s Bride ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Agreed. At a wedding, guests care about: 1) comfort (not too cold/hot), 2) food, 3) alcohol. Cut back on decor, photo booth, cut printables or even the DJ because without alcohol there will not likely be a lot of dancing.


    Adults are grown ups and many drink responsibly. Providing at least beer & wine because wedding are often socially awkward for guests is a good idea.
    If you really want a dry wedding it’s tougher for an evening wedding. Brunch may be better. And costs for a brunch wedding are less too (which is your concern). That may be a great option for you.
    • Reply
  • Bailey
    Beginner September 2020
    Bailey ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    That is not true at all about you saying I'm implying that people who have an open bar want their guests to drive. If you read my post you know I ONLY am worried about that because my guests have NO options of ride services at my venue which means they HAVE to drive home. This is not the case at most weddings.
    • Reply
  • Amanda
    VIP December 2020
    Amanda ·
    • Flag

    It's YOUR wedding. Unless they are paying for your open bar...ignore them.


    That is all.

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