Massachusetts-Boston

Feedback on cash bars (real experience requested)

Hello, all!! I'm originally from CT and relocated to MA about 5 years ago. I am happily engaged to the love of my life and we're in the middle of wedding planning. Now, I have already seen ALL over the boards ..... Cash bars BAD!! Cash bars RUDE!! In my experience, having never been to a wedding without an open bar before, I tend to agree.

However my dear fiancé has informed me that he has never been to a wedding with an open bar and he's not in favor of it. I have spoken with several friends who grew up in the area and they have the same story. Is that really a thing around here? I'm trying to come up with more ammunition to sway the opinion and it would be helpful to know that there ARE people in Central Mass who actually opt for an open bar. 

What has been your experience?
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Re: Feedback on cash bars (real experience requested)

  • Hi, well I am getting married in Boston.  Definitely open bar.  We are actually doing one hour open cocktail hour, start a half hour into reception after first dance, close a half hour before it ends.  That way we do 3 hours.  I think most weddings now a days people do open bar.  Just seems rude to invite people to make them pay for their own drinks.  Your inviting them lol.  I went to a wedding recently and couldn't believe we had to buy even our sodas.  Then the drinks were $11 a piece out in western MA...I don't even buy $11 drinks at the majority of bars in Boston.  The best weddings have open bars :) worry free.
  • Also getting married in Boston and having a full open bar. 

    I would say that 80% of the weddings I've been to (across all economic backgrounds) have been open bar.  I have NEVER been to a wedding without an open cocktail hour at the very least.

    Maybe you and your fiancee can compromise and have open beer and wine.  I just would have drinks available for purchase if people are interested in those as well.  Just another thought! :)
  • I've been to weddings with open cocktail hour only, and didn't really think it was rude at the time (until after I've read all these boards!) but of course it would have been nicer to have open bar all night. I never go to a wedding assuming it will be full open bar. But I think it would be confusing if your beer and wine was open and guests were charged for other drinks. If you don't want the other drinks to be open bar, I'd say just offer beer and wine, period. Or maybe a signature drink or two. It's awkward if someone assumes the other drinks are free too and then doesn't have cash ready. My venue lets us stock our own bar but we still are leaning towards beers, wines, and 2 signature drinks to keep things simple. If those are the options and guests are not paying, I do not think anyone would be unhappy with that. Good luck!
  • One last thing-- have you picked a venue yet? Mine actually does not allow cash bars. So maybe look for venues that force you into an open bar. If your fiancé loves the venue maybe he will come around on the open bar thing.
  • My venue told me not to do an open bar. But we are also doing a Sunday afternoon reception that's ending at 10. We're doing champagne toast and unlimited non alcoholic beverages. I've never been to a wedding that had any sort of open bar ever. I know that at most of the venues up on the north shore both the venue and the couple are liable if someone gets in a car accident or ruins any property. Good luck, this was the hardest thing we had to face!
    jenna8984
  • I honestly never knew people had open bars until I came to TK. Since then I've still only been to one wedding with a full open bar all night and that was in CT and the family was rich. I really think it has to do with particular areas and economic class. No one bats an eye at a cash bar in my circle of friends and family. I don't mind them at all. But TK is making me feel like an awful person for even thinking about having one. Even if we do have one people will NOT have to pay for soda and water.

    I think if you're uncomfortable with the idea then you should budget for an open bar.
     




    mander14jenna8984ativnan16ashleyep
  • Mitch617 said:
    One last thing-- have you picked a venue yet? Mine actually does not allow cash bars. So maybe look for venues that force you into an open bar. If your fiancé loves the venue maybe he will come around on the open bar thing.

    Ohhhhh, sneaky!!! I love it! :)

    We've already chosen our venue and they will do whoever we want so ill talk him into as much of an open bar as I can even if its just beer and wine. My family and friends from CT are not used to cash bars and will likely not show up with any money. 
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  • jenna8984jenna8984 clam bakes & patriots member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    I've lived in central Mass my whole life and the only open bar wedding I've ever been to was a friend in Arizona's. Not a single one here so I guess it really is more accepted here. Honestly it could have something to do with the "masshole" attitude....unlike gentle, sweet Southerners, we tend to say "oh you don't like something? go F-K yourself" hahaha. But no, my friends and I don't think it's rude. 

                                                                     

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    mander14
  • I can only remember being to one wedding without an open or limited bar.  One of my friends had open bar during cocktail hour and then a cash bar for the reception… everyone was kinda pissed and confused that one minute they had free drinks and the next they had to pay.

    In both of our families, having a cash bar is considered to be very rude.  Neither of our families drink much, but they don't expect to pay if they do want to have a drink.

    Yes, certain venues don't allow cash bars… usually it's because the town is dry and they can't "sell alcohol", so you have to bring in your own and give it away.

    Here's my thing with etiquette: Why take the chance of offending or inconveniencing your guests when you could simply follow etiquette?  If they get upset with your etiquette, then you know you are right and they are being silly.

    Host a limited bar if that's what you can afford.  That's perfectly acceptable. 
  • Mitch617 said:
    I've been to weddings with open cocktail hour only, and didn't really think it was rude at the time (until after I've read all these boards!) but of course it would have been nicer to have open bar all night. I never go to a wedding assuming it will be full open bar. But I think it would be confusing if your beer and wine was open and guests were charged for other drinks. If you don't want the other drinks to be open bar, I'd say just offer beer and wine, period. Or maybe a signature drink or two. It's awkward if someone assumes the other drinks are free too and then doesn't have cash ready. My venue lets us stock our own bar but we still are leaning towards beers, wines, and 2 signature drinks to keep things simple. If those are the options and guests are not paying, I do not think anyone would be unhappy with that. Good luck!
    Limited bar means that you ONLY offer those specific items.  Nothing else is available for cash.  Sounds like OP is leaning toward this option.  

    I personally like the idea of beer and wine with a signature drink.
    grumbledore
  • If you do open bar change around the bar selection prior to signing if you don't like everything.  We negotiated a ton.  We did the less expensive brand option, but ended up switching brands out that we thought people would like, and some how kept it to be the same price.  I got Blue Moon, which they did not have, added to our list for nothing.  Which I know a lot of my girl friends drink.  Then with the alcohol I got jack daniels and Johnnie Walker Black (which we know a lot of people drink) added in return we got rid of a bourbon, another whiskey, and johnnie red.  Both our families don't believe in inviting people and then making them buy things.  If your family and friends don't expect it then it isn't an issue.  Most of ours would not bring cash with them and assume it is open bar.  We have only been to one wedding not open bar.    

  • My FI and I both want an open bar, but honestly all the weddings I've been to around here have only had open cocktail hour at the most. In fact, most of my family (immediate and extended), are very against open bars. The biggest reason: they find it wasteful (arguing that guests put drinks down, lose them, don't care and just get more drinks.) I think it's interesting...my family is very against being wasteful. Just how they grew up.

    With my venue, we won't reach the food and beverage minimum with just the food, so we HAVE to buy a bar package to meet the minimum...maybe your venue is the same way? ...this is actually the only reason my mom's not arguing against the whole thing too much - she knows we have to.
  • bethfour said:
    My FI and I both want an open bar, but honestly all the weddings I've been to around here have only had open cocktail hour at the most. In fact, most of my family (immediate and extended), are very against open bars. The biggest reason: they find it wasteful (arguing that guests put drinks down, lose them, don't care and just get more drinks.) I think it's interesting...my family is very against being wasteful. Just how they grew up.

    With my venue, we won't reach the food and beverage minimum with just the food, so we HAVE to buy a bar package to meet the minimum...maybe your venue is the same way? ...this is actually the only reason my mom's not arguing against the whole thing too much - she knows we have to.
    All my friends are saying the same thing!! Who are these people that constantly lose sight of their cocktails and instead of trying to find them simply go get another because its "free"?
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    lleblanc33
  • Kerigirl9 said:
    bethfour said:
    My FI and I both want an open bar, but honestly all the weddings I've been to around here have only had open cocktail hour at the most. In fact, most of my family (immediate and extended), are very against open bars. The biggest reason: they find it wasteful (arguing that guests put drinks down, lose them, don't care and just get more drinks.) I think it's interesting...my family is very against being wasteful. Just how they grew up.

    With my venue, we won't reach the food and beverage minimum with just the food, so we HAVE to buy a bar package to meet the minimum...maybe your venue is the same way? ...this is actually the only reason my mom's not arguing against the whole thing too much - she knows we have to.
    All my friends are saying the same thing!! Who are these people that constantly lose sight of their cocktails and instead of trying to find them simply go get another because its "free"?
    Really not sure - even if there were some, not sure how all my family would just know about all of these people since they never have open bars...

    Gives me a headache! I really thought people would love to have an open bar. I'm surprised I've gotten so much backlash from people, but I'm glad I'm not the only one!
  • huskypuppy14huskypuppy14 Boston Suburbs member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited January 2014
    Kerigirl9 said:
    Mitch617 said:
    One last thing-- have you picked a venue yet? Mine actually does not allow cash bars. So maybe look for venues that force you into an open bar. If your fiancé loves the venue maybe he will come around on the open bar thing.

    Ohhhhh, sneaky!!! I love it! :)

    We've already chosen our venue and they will do whoever we want so ill talk him into as much of an open bar as I can even if its just beer and wine. My family and friends from CT are not used to cash bars and will likely not show up with any money. 
    This reason right here is why you should not have a cash bar. I think offering beer and wine and maybe a signature cocktail is perfectly fine.Then it's a compromise between full open bar and cash bar. Cash bars are rude, because the reception is supposed to be thanking your guests for attending your wedding. 

    I'm also from CT and have only been to 2 cash bar weddings. One was on the north shore, and one in CT (but this is rare). I'm getting married in central mass, and we will either have open bar or beer and wine only. 

    I have a friend who is from the south shore, and she says in her family open bars are unheard of. Another friend of ours from the NY area said she wouldn't come to her wedding if it wasn't open bar.  The problem with cash bars is you might offend someone. If someone is offended with an open bar, then that is their problem.
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    grumbledore
  • I think open bar is awesome if you can afford it! If you can't, then do what is within your means. I don't think what a bunch of strangers on TK say is necessarily wrong or right. What's wrong or right is what your friends and family and most importantly YOU will be okay with :o)
    lavenderfields13Mitch617reporter_bridealeighbaker
  • I've never not been to a wedding that was not open bar (and I've been to quite a few)! I think its a matter of your friendship/family circles, culture and budget rather than the area itself. I would be surprised if the wedding did not have an open (or hosted) bar. 

    That said, there are things that can be done to compromise. If cost is the issue, some venues let you bring your own alcohol (saves thousands).  As was posted above, limiting the type of drink (beer, wine, signature cocktail; just wine with dinner; just holding cocktail hour). I'm not sure if its considered rude or not, but you might want to inform guests via your website (if you have one) that the bar will be cash (if thats what you decide) so they know to bring cash. A last suggestion is that maybe you can invite guests or direct them to an after party at a bar/restaurant in which guests who really want to drink can continue to drink but not on your tab. 
  • Kerigirl9 said:
    Hello, all!! I'm originally from CT and relocated to MA about 5 years ago. I am happily engaged to the love of my life and we're in the middle of wedding planning. Now, I have already seen ALL over the boards ..... Cash bars BAD!! Cash bars RUDE!! In my experience, having never been to a wedding without an open bar before, I tend to agree.

    However my dear fiancé has informed me that he has never been to a wedding with an open bar and he's not in favor of it. I have spoken with several friends who grew up in the area and they have the same story. Is that really a thing around here? I'm trying to come up with more ammunition to sway the opinion and it would be helpful to know that there ARE people in Central Mass who actually opt for an open bar. 

    What has been your experience?

    My FI has never been to an open bar wedding either - I had to do a lot of work on him before he came around and accepted that even if his sister/cousin/friend did it, it's still rude. It is definitely impolite to expect guests to foot any part of the bill for your reception, including for alcohol. If you don't want to pay for it, don't offer it. If you do want to offer it, pay for it.

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  • grumbledoregrumbledore member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    edited January 2014
  • leese19 said:
    I honestly never knew people had open bars until I came to TK. Since then I've still only been to one wedding with a full open bar all night and that was in CT and the family was rich. I really think it has to do with particular areas and economic class. No one bats an eye at a cash bar in my circle of friends and family. I don't mind them at all. But TK is making me feel like an awful person for even thinking about having one. Even if we do have one people will NOT have to pay for soda and water.

    I think if you're uncomfortable with the idea then you should budget for an open bar.

    I have to disagree loudly with the bolded. I'm not rich, and our open bar isn't costing us an arm and a leg. We chose a venue where we could afford to have an open bar. I think this is where most people run into trouble - they choose a venue and don't get all of the information, then they are hammered with it later.

    We searched for months for a venue that would allow us to provide our own bar (with a licensed bartender of our choice) which cut our cost dramatically. This also allows us to choose what we want to have available (for instance, we will have liquor but not every liquor). It's a matter of priorities.


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  • grumbledoregrumbledore member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    edited January 2014
  • @grumbledore, which venue are you using?
    The venue we're looking at next week only lets you use New England Bartending Service. I've contacted them to see what our options are for customizing our bar selection. I think this will allow us to save money (well maybe just not go broke) while still being able to host our guests how we'd like. Some venues will only allow full open bar or cash bar- no in between which I think is ridiculous. 
     




  • oh i just saw from another post where your venue is
     




  • Kerigirl9 said:
    Hello, all!! I'm originally from CT and relocated to MA about 5 years ago. I am happily engaged to the love of my life and we're in the middle of wedding planning. Now, I have already seen ALL over the boards ..... Cash bars BAD!! Cash bars RUDE!! In my experience, having never been to a wedding without an open bar before, I tend to agree.

    However my dear fiancé has informed me that he has never been to a wedding with an open bar and he's not in favor of it. I have spoken with several friends who grew up in the area and they have the same story. Is that really a thing around here? I'm trying to come up with more ammunition to sway the opinion and it would be helpful to know that there ARE people in Central Mass who actually opt for an open bar. 

    What has been your experience?

    My FI has never been to an open bar wedding either - I had to do a lot of work on him before he came around and accepted that even if his sister/cousin/friend did it, it's still rude. It is definitely impolite to expect guests to foot any part of the bill for your reception, including for alcohol. If you don't want to pay for it, don't offer it. If you do want to offer it, pay for it.
    Agreed. It has been an uphill battle but so far he's bought into the hosted beer and wine idea. I'll see what else I can pull out of my hat before final decisions are made!
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    grumbledore
  • I hope you will figure something out together.  But here are my 2 cents:

    Do what you feel is right, and don't be too swayed by an online community that firmly believes that cash bars or partial cash bars are rude no matter what.  I think that it depends on a lot of factors such as what you can afford, what is the norm where you live/within your social circle, etc. What do YOU think?  

    For our wedding, we are providing 2 bottles of wine at each table and are giving 2 drink tickets per guest, which is acceptable where I live and within my circle of family and friends.  That way, guests get to have 3 or 4 drinks on us.  After that is it cash bar, but the bar prices at our venue are not too outrageous.

    Of course everyone loves an open bar, but if it's not in your budget, then I'm sure you can come up with an alternative.  If you can afford it and can persuade your FI, go for it!  It sounds like many of your guests are not expecting you to provide an open bar, though.

    jenna8984
  • Thank you for the feedback. A open bar IS within our budget. And as stated earlier, my friends and family from CT will likely not have any cash with them as cash bars are not the norm where I'm from. My fiancé just doesn't want to do it. So far I've got beer and wine covered and ill work on the rest later. :)
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  • Cash bars are rude, not just on TK but everywhere.

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  • I grew up on the South Shore, and have been to a lot of family and family-friend's weddings, and not a single one was open bar. One of them had open bar for cocktail hour, but that's it. However, I went away to college and made friends from around the country/world, and in the 10-20 weddings I've been to for people not from the South Shore/my family circle, 100% of them have been open bar for the entire night. 

    We're doing open bar for the entire night, but it will be limited to beer, wine, and 1-2 spirits. I just can't imagine inviting people to a party and not providing their food and drink.

    Actually, when I have had parties at my house I've always made a point to have plenty of drinks for everyone. And people often show up with something, which is great. It's polite to bring something.  But my family shows up with drinks FOR THEMSELVES. Like, they'll share if you ask them specifically, but really they just brought their own drinks to a party. It's the weirdest thing. You really didn't think I'd have beer for you to drink?! You don't have to bring your own refreshments! I invited you! 
    grumbledore
  • MrsMack10612MrsMack10612 The Witch City member
    Tenth Anniversary 500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Answer
    Please see @grumbledore's post.

    Cash bars are rude regardless of where you are.  If your are hosting an event you should be providing all of the food, beverage and entertainment for your guests.

    That is the definition of hosting.  If you have a party at your home, do you charge your guests for their food?  Their beverages?  No, you provide what you can afford.  Many times, like @MandyMost, our guests will bring a preferred beverage of choice but I don't have enough fingers and toes to count how many times it goes unopened because we have provided sufficient refreshments.

    A wedding is no different.  It is a large party that you are hosting on a grand scale and therefore, you should be providing your guests all of their food and beverage based on what you can afford.

     

    grumbledore
  • Please see @grumbledore's post.

    Cash bars are rude regardless of where you are.  If your are hosting an event you should be providing all of the food, beverage and entertainment for your guests.

    That is the definition of hosting.  If you have a party at your home, do you charge your guests for their food?  Their beverages?  No, you provide what you can afford.  Many times, like @MandyMost, our guests will bring a preferred beverage of choice but I don't have enough fingers and toes to count how many times it goes unopened because we have provided sufficient refreshments.

    A wedding is no different.  It is a large party that you are hosting on a grand scale and therefore, you should be providing your guests all of their food and beverage based on what you can afford.

    Thank you... Yes, I understand.. Not sure if you read my entire post. i agree that cash bars suck. i had never seen a cash bar before i moved here. I was simply asking for some experience of local people to see if this cash bar thing is really as prevalent as my FI was telling me. Just looking for extra ammunition to help convince him. Unfortunately telling him it's rude doesn't help much.

    I have already talked him into hosted beer and wine so we're on the right track.
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