Cash bar at weddings is a pet peeve of mine, especially if it's a surprise. If you really want to do it, I would somehow state it on your wedding website or something. You could have just a limited bar of just beer and wine if budget is an issue. If you're worried about someone getting hammered, it really depends on your crowd. I've never been to a wedding where someone causes a big issue when they get too drunk, but that's why you have a bartender who is responsible
You can also host specific drinks at your bar (ie. beer, wine and a “specialty” mixed drink). That way there are still free options for guests if they so choose. But anything outside of those options (ie. top shelf liquors), aren’t covered.
Honestly, do whatever is in your budget. If you think you can afford an open bar, I say go for it! If you have wiggle room then maybe just put a cap on the open bar. We are planning to have kind of a limited open bar that will switch to a cash bar once we have hit that limit.
I have been to one wedding that did not provide drinks. I don't recommend it by any means but if you're not providing it, I would look into your venues rules on bringing alcohol in. The one we went to was BYOB. Personally, I would much rather bring in my own than pay a severely up charged price to drink. Like I said, I'd try to find an alternative, even if you only supply one type of something, but if not I'd try to take this route.
I have heard of people having cash bars at their weddings, but have never actually experienced this. Personally, I think if you are hosting an event it would be rude to ask your guests to then pay for a portion of it. I guess the way I look at it is, if you invited friends over for dinner, would you then ask them to pay for their drinks?
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If that were the case, I would either cut down my guest list so that I could afford to host my guests, or push my wedding date back 6 months, a year (whatever time is needed) to save more money. That is just me though. This is your wedding, and of course you can choose to do whatever you’d like As PP had mentioned, a cheaper option is only providing beer and wine. Or, you could just not have a bar at all. You know your crowd!
I agree with those that they do what's in your budget. Be careful with an open bar because I'm sorry some people take advantage of that and then they get drunk at your wedding do you want that? I remember a wedding I went to years ago the bride and groom gave everyone a ticket when they got to the reception site and that ticket was good for one free drink and then after that I would have to pay their own way. I've been to some weddings where it was open bar, beer and wine only or cash bar. I never get offended about a cash bar but I agree with what some people said and that if it is a cash bar then you should state that on the invitations just so people can be aware in advance. Another option that I have seen at weddings I've been to where for a limited amount of time it's open bar then after that people pay. Just factor in the cost of how much this is going to be because some people want to go to reception and get lit so just think do you and your fiance want to pay that bill.
Oh sure. Do not let anyone tell you what to do with your money lol. That is my belief. I feel if you let guests know in advanced cash bar then it is fine. I feel that people are there to see you two make a commitment to each other which is more important. If you not having an open bar is a deal breaker then they do not deserve to come to your wedding.