Shawna
Dedicated August 2012

Cash Bar vs. Open Bar

Shawna, on April 5, 2012 at 2:36 PM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 0 105
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With our wedding package we can have unlimited beer and wine at our reception and everything else our guest will have to pay. Of course family and friends are asking if we are having an open bar and when I tell them no, they look disappointed. I feel like we are paying for everything else why can't the guest foot the bill for their alcoholic beverages?

What are you offering Cash or Open Bar?

105 Comments

Latest activity by Jessica, on March 2, 2019 at 10:46 PM
  • WasSoon2BMrsSmith
    Master September 2010
    WasSoon2BMrsSmith ·
    • Flag

    Don't tell them no. Tell them that beer and wine are unlimited.

    the glass my friend is half full. If they choose to drink something else they can pay but that is their choice it's not like you arn't providing them anything at all.

    • Reply
  • Jennifer
    VIP May 2012
    Jennifer ·
    • Flag

    Fully cash bar, wine on the tables with dinner is paid for by us and that is it. BUT this is 100% the norm in my area, I've never been to an open bar wedding and thought only "rich celebrity types" had that until just a couple years ago when I was talking to a friend that lives in a different city! lol

    I think a beer and wine idea is great, or maybe add a signature cocktail too. Alot of the brides on here seem to do that kind of offering.

    • Reply
  • Missy
    Super October 2012
    Missy ·
    • Flag

    Our package includes open bar for everything. They have an upgrade of better alcohol, but we are keeping the basic option (most people we have coming wouldn't know the difference between brands of alcohol anyways).

    • Reply
  • Missy
    Super October 2012
    Missy ·
    • Flag

    Our package includes open bar for everything. They have an upgrade of better alcohol, but we are keeping the basic option (most people we have coming wouldn't know the difference between brands of alcohol anyways).

    • Reply
  • Blair
    VIP September 2012
    Blair ·
    • Flag

    Limited open bar. we have beer, wine and 3 signature cocktails. I may have sangria too. There will be nothing else available other than what we provide.

    • Reply
  • Mrs. J-Mo
    Super July 2012
    Mrs. J-Mo ·
    • Flag

    We are having a cash bar, but if we can afford it closer to the wedding, we'll try to have a limited open bar.

    • Reply
  • Juliette S
    Master February 2012
    Juliette S ·
    • Flag

    Totally open bar...for us, it was the #2 priority behind good food.

    But as the budget got tighter we did talk about doing beer and wine only -- I think like S2B Mrs. Smith said, it's somewhat about positioning.

    • Reply
  • KM
    VIP November 2012
    KM ·
    • Flag

    We are doing 3 hours open bar with continuous wine pour during dinner when the bar is closed. I have never been to a wedding that wasn't open bar (at least beer or wine only). Providing your guests beer and wine is plenty in my opinion.

    • Reply
  • Saleemah
    Dedicated November 2012
    Saleemah ·
    • Flag

    My package included open bar but I put stimpulations on the bar because if the guest drink past our set price then we will get a bill afterwards. We set 1500 for open bar, the stipulations are:

    1. Only signature drinks are served during cocktail hour

    2. Bar will stop serving liquor 45mins before reception ending

    And the good thing is if they dont drink 1500 then we get refunded the remainder Smiley smile

    • Reply
  • WasSoon2BMrsSmith
    Master September 2010
    WasSoon2BMrsSmith ·
    • Flag

    Saleemah B. I am doing something similar.

    Cocktail hr will be non-alcoholic or with only alcoholic punch.

    Wine only with dinner

    and after dinner we open the bar with a $2000 cap on the after dinner bar. Should be enough for 75 guests, especially since half the aunts and uncles will only have one.

    • Reply
  • Lee I.
    VIP October 2012
    Lee I. ·
    • Flag

    Open bar all night long. This is something that was important to FH and I. However, our venue allows us to bring in our own alcohol and bartenders (with insurance). So the total cost for alcohol will be no more than $1000.00 for 150 people.

    • Reply
  • Aimee R (formerly Aimee B)
    Super September 2012
    Aimee R (formerly Aimee B) ·
    • Flag

    My FH and I rarely drink so if our guests are expecting open bar then I would be shocked. We will have open bar for cocktail hour but that is it.

    I would like to think people would respect your decision and not pass along the disapointed looks. I mean they should remember why they are there in the first place-to celebrate YOUR wedding not free drinks.

    • Reply
  • Ab
    Master October 2011
    Ab ·
    • Flag

    We had open bar, that's the norm in my area, but then again my town was pretty decently priced. We wanted guests to feel welcome and as comfortable as possible. It all depends on budget, it's stupid to go broke to have people have drinks, but if you act entitled about it, or splurge on other areas and its obvious, then guests will feel off put.

    • Reply
  • Labake
    Master June 2012
    Labake ·
    • Flag

    Beer and wine is plenty. All of our friends are super picky about alcohol. Some people will only drink ketel one, only johnnie walker- BLUE LABEL. I love Don Julio tequila. I know people will bring a flask of their good stuff anyway.

    • Reply
  • krisalicious
    Master April 2012
    krisalicious ·
    • Flag

    Open. I would never ask a guest to open their wallet at my reception. That doesn't mean I'm rich or I have to serve them top shelf all night. Beer and wine only is totally fine, as is a dry wedding. But in my circle, a cash bar is considered totally rude.

    Two important points:

    1) people go rounds on WW about this, but as others have pointed out it's more about what's normal in your area.

    2) The reception is a party you/your families host to thank your guests for witnessing and supporting your marriage. The scale and price of that party is up to you. How you spend your budget is up to you. It's not on your guests to "foot the bill" for any part of it. If the cash bar is normal for your area, fine. But I would just be really careful about that mindset towards guests. I think that's where these convos can go downhill.

    • Reply
  • Mrs. Bansmer
    Super August 2012
    Mrs. Bansmer ·
    • Flag

    We have a full top shelf open bar for our wedding. It was one of the things we spent the most money on. We have 2 families of drinkers! I personally do not like having a cash bar. However, i've only been to weddings where it was all cash or nothing. Your guests should be happy that they get the option to get beer and wine for free. If they absolutely have to have a mixed drink then that is their own prerogative to pay when you are giving them an opportunity not to! I usually drink mixed drinks but if the beer/wine was free I would definitely go for the free over the paid beverage!

    • Reply
  • Aimee R (formerly Aimee B)
    Super September 2012
    Aimee R (formerly Aimee B) ·
    • Flag

    How does anyone really know what the norm is in their area? I've been to weddings that have had both and never thought anything of the ones I had to pay at, especially thinking it was rude.

    The only common denominator when I think back on the open bar were that the couple and/or a huge portion of their guests were big drinkers. (not that there is anything wrong with that)

    I think people should do what works best for them and their budget regardless what is normal in your area. Don't go broke or stress over it. I think alcohol is the LEAST priority on our wedding list.

    • Reply
  • Rachel S.
    Master September 2013
    Rachel S. ·
    • Flag

    We have fully decided yet but we will probably be doing open bar (that's the norm around here) and between our families and friends- that's the only way to go. BUT I have been to weddings where they only serve beer and wine and I didn't hear any complaints (nor did I have any complaints)! It's all about your family and your guests. Don't go broke trying to please everyone, do what's the most important for you and FH!

    • Reply
  • beach08
    Devoted June 2012
    beach08 ·
    • Flag

    My opinion cash bar is tacky at a wedding reception, we are doing full open bar. But to each his own if your guest don't mind paying for a drink to help YOU celebrate then thats great.

    • Reply
  • Kimberly S  ( formerly Kimberly L )
    Master June 2012
    Kimberly S ( formerly Kimberly L ) ·
    • Flag

    Open all night.

    • Reply

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