Just Said Yes January 2020

Cash bar vs Open bar???

Sunny, on July 12, 2019 at 9:35 PM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 0 31
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Hi everyone. I was paging through the discussions and I'm sure its been discussed before, but what kind of bar should you have for a wedding?

We're on a fairly strict budget (I'm a college student and he's deployed) and were planning on going with a cash bar. Is this tacky? We plan on having about 50 people attend and they would all be close family, would it be better to just do an open bar for the cocktail style reception??

Thank you in advance!!!


  • Melle
    Master June 2019
    Melle ·
    Usually people say open bar is better but if that costs too much are there other options like only wine and beer?
  • Kelly
    VIP October 2020
    Kelly ·
    Just a heads up people on here will generally get nasty about this question.
    I suggest addressing your budget and seeing what you're comfortable allotting to alcohol. Then see if you can do wine and beer only, or have an open bar until they hit your maximum then switch to cash bar. If your budget doesn't look like it can accommodate much do cash bar from the start. Where I live most events are cash bar so it's fine, other regions it's not as popular.
    There's nothing wrong with taking steps to stay within your budget and don't let people on here bully you into spending money you don't have on alcohol.
  • Kelly
    Master October 2018
    Kelly ·
    Is a cash bar the norm in your area and social circle? For some people it is. For me personally I would do a dry wedding over cash bar because I don’t believe in making people open their wallets for something you’re hosting but everyone is different.
  • D
    Super July 2020
    D ·
    Since you asked if was tacky, generally YES. Price open before making the decision. Or beer and wine. It's a cocktail style reception so...
    See if you can
  • Cyndy
    VIP May 2019
    Cyndy ·
    Personally I wouldn’t do a cash bar but maybe beer and wine only to keep costs down.
  • Naikesha
    Devoted September 2020
    Naikesha ·
    You have to be honest and know your audience. If you budget allows do beer and wine it’s much cheaper and you can do just 2 options of each (red,white, ale or lager etc) this way it doesn’t break the bank and you are still providing some form of alcohol .
  • John
    September 2020
    John ·
    In the UK, cash bar is the norm. I don't think I've ever gone to a wedding which isn't.

    But most people on here seem to have really strong opinions that it's morally wrong and you're a despicable human being if you do it.

    You know your circle of friends and family etc better than anyone here will so I guess it's about judging what's best for your situation
  • Caytlyn
    Champion November 2019
    Caytlyn ·
    In my area cash bars are tacky. It’s not your guest’s responsibility to pay for anything at a hosted event. I would choose to have a dry wedding over a cash bar. Could you do beer and wine or another type of modified open bar?
  • Megan
    VIP January 2019
    Megan ·
    All I will say is post dinner our bar switched from open to cash... and post dinner a lot our guests left. There are many mitigating factors: we (and most guests) lives 60+ Minutes from the venue and it was a Friday, but I truly believe a large number of guests left because we switched the bar and in hindsight I wouldn’t have.
  • Cher Horowitz
    Master December 2019
    Cher Horowitz ·

    Open bar all the way! Even if you just have unlimited beer and wine

  • Meghan
    Super October 2019
    Meghan ·
    I would go with an open bar. Even if you do beer and wine only. I am not a fan of cash bars because it makes your guests responsible for paying for things at an event you’re hosting. It makes them keep up with their wallets/purses all night, which at a wedding gets annoying.
  • Pirate & 60s Bride
    Champion March 2017
    Pirate & 60s Bride ·

    In my area/circles, a cash bar would be very tacky and rude. If on a budget (or due to venue alcohol restrictions), beer and wine is totally fine!

  • Future Mrs. Petro
    Devoted November 2018
    Future Mrs. Petro ·
    Open! Always open bar. Save money elsewhere. It looks tacky.
  • Andrea
    VIP April 2020
    Andrea ·

    For me, I'm doing open because our families are big drinkers and we simply wouldn't feel right about having them pay for their own drinks. However, in your situation, if you could work out a beer and wine open bar, that would be much appreciated by your guests

  • FirstTimeMOB
    October 2018
    FirstTimeMOB ·

    Consider when you plan a party and invite people to your home...do you ask them to pay for their drinks? Likely you do not, but have a reasonable selection for them to choose from.

    Same here. You don't necessarily have to provide a full open bar, but having a reasonable selection of beverages that they can choose from (that you pay for) is appropriate.

  • Rebecca
    Dedicated August 2019
    Rebecca ·

    Depending on how much your guests drink, maybe you could ask about a consumption bar where you pay per drink vs. flat fee? We’re doing this since my fiancée doesn’t drink and most people on his side will likely not drink or just have one glass of wine.

    If your venue doesn’t offer this, ask if it’s cheaper to do only wine and beer.

    If cash bars are common in your circle, guests may not find it out of the norm, but I know in my circle people would be grumpy, especially since several people are flying in and paying for hotels.

  • Caitlin
    Dedicated August 2020
    Caitlin ·
    As a guest, of course you’d want open bar, BUT it will cost you thousands more!! We are planning on providing our guests with beer and wine (and nonalcoholic options) , and everything else will be cash bar. This way there are “free” options for guests, but they can also get what they want if they want to pay.
  • Jess
    Super September 2019
    Jess ·

    As PP have said it depends on your area. In mine cash bar is not common. Would having an open bar only for a limited time be an option? So instead of a full 5 hour open bar only do 1-2 hours then shut down the alcohol and only provide water, juice, soda. Or as others have mentioned cut down the bar to beer and wine only.

  • Futuremrsv
    Super October 2020
    Futuremrsv ·
    Only you and your fiance know what your budget can allow. Dont go broke over a wedding!
    We personally dont drink, and we never even thought of having an open bar..plus our venue does not even offer open bar. They only offer a certain amount of beer and wine and ones the allotted amount is gone, then it turns into a cash bar. We are very happy with our decision..we will be saving thousands of dollars on not having a open bar. Its one day, ive been to many weddings with cash bars..and in my experience nobody minds dishing out cash for a drink. Guests are just happy to be there with you on your big day!
  • M.W.
    VIP June 2019
    M.W. ·

    Open bar all the way! Just make sure guest tip the bartenders

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