Johanna
Just Said Yes August 2021

Open Bar to Cash Bar

Johanna, on July 22, 2021 at 11:41 AM Posted in Wedding Reception 0 19
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Hi everyone! We're getting married at a vineyard, so they will be serving beer and wine and possibly a personalized sangria. To keep costs down, we've decided we want to have an open bar but transition it to cash once the open dancing starts. This means we'll cover the drinks from cocktail hour through dinner and events (around 5:30 to around 8:00). There will be open dancing until 10:00. We want to make this very clear so no one is caught off guard, through announcements and a sign on the bar. Any suggestions for how to word the sign? I was thinking "Drinks on us until..." but I'm not sure what to say after that. Thanks for your help!!

19 Comments

Latest activity by Jenny, on July 23, 2021 at 11:14 AM
  • SHY
    Master January 2022
    SHY ·
    • Flag

    I think that wording is fine!

    A lot of people on here are going to be very against this idea, and I'm a little hesitant on it as well, but if you make sure your guests are aware before the wedding, I think it should be fine.

    Do you have a wedding website? If possible, I'd put that information on there as well under your wedding details or have it as a note when your guests RSVP (if RSVP is online). As a guest, I'd much rather know beforehand that I need to bring cash/card with me for the last 2 hours of the bar being open, than be surprised when I arrive and see/hear an announcement about it!

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  • Cool
    Super July 2020
    Cool ·
    • Flag
    You’re getting married at a vineyard - of all places your guests are going to expect free wine all night. It’s in poor taste to make your guests foot any bills for your wedding so I would recommend cutting costs elsewhere to keep the bar open all night. Just beer and wine is more than acceptable. Even just wine! Again, it’s a vineyard. You need to be serving wine all night.
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  • Johanna
    Just Said Yes August 2021
    Johanna ·
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    Thank you for your response, but we have already decided to do this, and my question was not whether or not we should do this, but the best way to communicate it to the guests. I know my guests, I know my budget, and we have done everything else that we can. We have multiple reasons for doing it this way, and we've spent a lot of time contemplating the best way to handle the situation.

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  • Jessi
    Expert October 2022
    Jessi ·
    • Flag

    I agree with SHY that I think your wording works. I also agree that you should make it very obvious to guests beforehand and let them know what type of payment will be available in case cards aren't taken. Normally I don't take a purse to weddings and just stick my ID in FH's wallet. He normally carries a card but not always has cash, so it would be nice to know before if we needed to stop at an ATM before.

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  • AJ
    Super October 2022
    AJ ·
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    I agree with this, but if you’ve made up your mind already then the wording sounds fine, but don’t expect your guests to be happy about it. I agree with other posters, let them know if it’s only cash accepted or if credit card would be acceptable as well.
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  • Hanna
    VIP June 2019
    Hanna ·
    • Flag

    Etiquette aside (since you've seemed to have already made up your mind), I think you'd want to warn guests ahead of time before the day of your wedding, such as on your wedding website. It would never even occur to me to bring cash or a credit card to a wedding reception, so I would be completely caught off guard if I didn't find out about the switch to a cash bar until seeing a sign at the bar the day of. I think your wording is fine, but I'd make sure to include it on your wedding website as well as via word of mouth beforehand in addition to a physical sign at the bar. This way your guests will at least come prepared

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  • Kari
    Master May 2020
    Kari ·
    • Flag

    I think the wording is fine. While I don't love cash bars, I think as long as some alcohol is provided by the hosts and its clear that you are transitioning from open bar to cash bar at some point in the night, then its fine. Guests can then sure to load up on drinks before they need to pay out of pocket.

    Will there be a tip jar? Typically if a couple is doing an open bar, they pay for the alcohol and service and tip the bartender, so there is no tip jar. Whenever there is a cash bar, there tends to be a tip jar. Since you are trying to save money, would you rely on guests exclusively to tip and leave a tip jar out all night?

    Its possible your guests will not bring cash with them to your wedding. I don't often have cash on me and if I need small bills for tips I need to plan for it. If guests will be paying for any portion of the night, whether tipping during open bar or buying their own drinks during the tail end of your event when you transition to cash bar, it would be good to give them advanced notice, especially if your venue does not have an ATM available.

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  • Cool
    Super July 2020
    Cool ·
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    In that case as others have said, give ample notice and make sure your guests are aware before your wedding. On the website I would make it clear “the bar will be hosted until 8 pm at which point it will switch to a cash bar.” Specify if people need cash or cards.
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  • Jacks
    Master September 2019
    Jacks ·
    • Flag

    Yep I would give your guests the heads up that they will be subsidizing the cost of your wedding. By selling alcohol you're not keeping costs down, you're passing it off to your guests. They'll need to bring cash or a credit card.

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  • E
    Savvy October 2021
    Elise ·
    • Flag
    I’ve seen this done at a welcome party, not the wedding itself, and guests were all stocking up on drinks before the time ended. Just something to keep in mind for your budget.
    Basically, if everyone gets an extra drink before 8, that is the equivalent of you paying until 9pm and then it comes down to the question if 1 extra hour/drink per person until 10pm is really worth breaking the social norm of not asking guests to open their wallet? Just want to highlight that your savings may not be as significant as you think.
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  • CountryBride
    Super April 2022
    CountryBride ·
    • Flag

    I wouldn't do it your guests would leave with a bad taste in their mouths, if you are getting married in vineyard then as a guest I would expect to drink free all night, if you do decide to do this then put it on your website

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  • Jenny
    Savvy April 2022
    Jenny ·
    • Flag
    I still find this so odd that people think it’s so rude to expect people to pay for their drinks at a wedding. Maybe it’s because I’m from Iowa but I’ve never been to a wedding where everything was free. Cocktail hour drinks provided and after that you pay your own.


    I truly think it’s fine if you do ❤️❤️
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  • S
    Expert November 2021
    Sara ·
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    Exactly this. If something like this went down in my extended family or social circle, people would want to know ahead of time because then they'd know to spend less money on a gift in order to compensate for helping to subsidize the cost of the wedding.

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  • Stacey
    Super May 2021
    Stacey Online ·
    • Flag

    People will be caught off guard if they don't know ahead of time to bring cash & tip money. You need to communicate it in advance so your guests can plan for the guest experience you are providing.

    • Reply
  • mrswinteriscoming
    Rockstar December 2021
    mrswinteriscoming Online ·
    • Flag

    I agree with others that this is not an ideal situation as guests should not be asked to open their wallets at weddings, but, if you are adamant on going ahead with this, I definitely agree that you need to give your guests notice of this in advance - in my personal experience, I've never gone to a wedding planning to spend money on anything other than a cab myself so this would definitely catch me off guard as a guest if I didn't know about it in advance.

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  • Kk
    Devoted October 2021
    Kk ·
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    I think it's definitely a regional thing. I'm from NJ and have never been to a wedding that hasn't been completely open. I think it's also because of the money people spend to attend weddings. If I'm spending hundreds of dollars to attend as a guest, I don't want to have to open my wallet once I get there, unless it's to tip the bartender. Also as a guest, I won't remember what your invitations, centerpieces or flowers look like, but I absolutely will remember that I had to pay for my own drinks. Is that petty to some, maybe
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  • Jacks
    Master September 2019
    Jacks ·
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    It's not petty, it's honest. It's a common reaction.

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  • Sylvana
    Dedicated August 2021
    Sylvana ·
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    Very much agree. Perhaps it is regional, I'm honestly not sure as I have yet to go to a wedding outside of the tri-state area but I have never been to a wedding that wasn't a full open bar all night. Even beer and wine only is completely fine.


    We cut from other places to be sure we could host a full open bar. I also agree that as a guest I would not remember your center pieces, flowers, decor, etc. But I would remember needing to come out of pocket at someone else's event.
    That being said, if it's regional and it's completely normal to do this kind of thing in your area, I would be sure to make note of that on your wedding website and through word of mouth so people bring cash/credit cards. Personally I would cut other unnecessary things like a photo booth, go with better priced invites, online RSVP, etc to host the bar the entire night. I'd just do beer and wine in a winery.
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  • Jenny
    Savvy April 2022
    Jenny ·
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    I would agree regional. But I guess I too have never spent hundreds to attend a wedding so maybe it’s just a difference based in region like you said. Either way hope it all works out for the bride. That’s all any of us want is a beautiful wedding with friends and family ❤️
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