Wedding Etiquette Forum

Cash Bar or No Bar at all after Cocktail Hour???

I know this has already been discussed endlessly on wedding boards, but I am trying to decide between providing a cash bar or having no bar at all for my wedding reception. I am providing a champagne toast for guests during the reception, as well as champagne punch during the cocktail hour (at $65/gallon!). However, this alone is a strain on our very small budget, and the option of providing alcoholic beverages during the reception as well would be impossible. Yes, we've considered the beer/wine/soda option only, and that too is extremely expensive and out of our budget, as our venue requires that they provide all of the beverages.

As a wedding guest, would you prefer to have the option to pay for additional drinks if you wanted them during the reception, or would the idea of a cash bar (even after cocktail hour) turn you off?
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Re: Cash Bar or No Bar at all after Cocktail Hour???

  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    edited May 2013
    In Response to Cash Bar or No Bar at all after Cocktail Hour???:
    [QUOTE]I know this has already been discussed endlessly on wedding boards, but I am trying to decide between providing a cash bar or having no bar at all for my wedding reception. I am providing a champagne toast for guests during the reception, as well as champagne punch during the cocktail hour (at $65/gallon!). However, this alone is a strain on our very small budget, and the option of providing alcoholic beverages during the reception as well would be impossible. Yes, we've considered the beer/wine/soda option only, and that too is extremely expensive and out of our budget, as our venue requires that they provide all of the beverages. As a wedding guest, would you prefer to have the option to pay for additional drinks if you wanted them during the reception, or would the idea of a cash bar (even after cocktail hour) turn you off?
    Posted by pittsamp7[/QUOTE]

    Cash bars are rude.  No guest should ever have to open up their wallet at your wedding.  You don't charge guests when they come over to your house for dinner, right?  This is the same thing, except hosted on a larger scale.  A dry wedding is perfectly acceptable.

  • In Response to Re: Cash Bar or No Bar at all after Cocktail Hour???:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Cash Bar or No Bar at all after Cocktail Hour??? : Cash bars are rude.  No guest should ever have to open up their wallet at your wedding.  You don't charge guests when they come over to your house for dinner, right?  This is the same thing, except hosted on a larger scale.  A dry wedding is perfectly acceptable.
    Posted by JoanE2012[/QUOTE]

    I'm very hesitant about the cash bar option as well, but I think my idea is that they do not "have to open their wallet" as I am providing other options. It's not exactly a dry wedding. I guess I was trying to poll to see if what I am providing is not enough for some guests, if they should have the option to pay for additional drinks if they so choose. Thanks for your opinion.
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited May 2013
    Guests should not have to pay for anything at your wedding. You wouldn't provide them chicken for dinner but tell them they could have steak for a fee, would you?  You wouldn't have them over for dinner and give them ice tea and then tell them they could have a glass of wine if they paid for it, would you?  Same for your wedding. I would prefer no alcohol as opposed to alcohol available for purchase. 


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  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    In Response to Re: Cash Bar or No Bar at all after Cocktail Hour???:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Cash Bar or No Bar at all after Cocktail Hour??? : I'm very hesitant about the cash bar option as well, but I think my idea is that they do not "have to open their wallet" as I am providing other options. It's not exactly a dry wedding. I guess I was trying to poll to see if what I am providing is not enough for some guests, if they should have the option to pay for additional drinks if they so choose. Thanks for your opinion.
    Posted by pittsamp7[/QUOTE]

    Perhaps I should rephrase then.  Having the option to buy drinks at a wedding you are hosting is rude.  You provide what you can afford. If that means no open bar, so be it.   Will you be offering upgrades of food if the guest is not happy with what you provide?   The same concept applies.

    In short to the bolded: NO
  • misshart00misshart00 Oklahoma member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
    edited May 2013
    I'm my trying to be snarky. I'm genuinely curious. If you know that this subject has been discussed endlessly on the board, don't you already know the answer to your question? But I agree with PP. Just have a dry wedding or cut out the champaign for wine and beer.
  • NYCMercedesNYCMercedes BOS, NYC, DC. Forever a city girl member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Champagne and champagne punch sound perfect. That's enough.
  • I agree that a cash bar is rude, but as a guest I would prefer that to no alcohol. I know most people will disagree with me on that. 
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  • I would never buy a drink at a wedding. After all the money you fork out for the couple the least they can do is not expect you to pay your way at their party. Ditto all PPs. Be a courteous host, look into beer and wine if possible or just host soda, tea, juice and coffee. Alcohol has NEVER been a necessity to get married and I can't understand why people would ever forego common courtesy so people can get tipsy.
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  • Also maybe can we look into a sticky that says Looking to Have a Cash bar? Click here
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  • Why don't you ditch the champagne and punch and host the beer/wine/soda instead? Unless you know that all your guests are huge champagne lovers, I think they'd more appreciate the beer/wine option.
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    In Response to Re:Cash Bar or No Bar at all after Cocktail Hour???:
    [QUOTE]65 dollars a gallon? What the hell? There better be gold nuggets and hand jobs in that punch bowl at that price!
    Posted by EllaYoung[/QUOTE]
    Can I get invited to this wedding?
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  • To answer the question you asked: as a guest, I would rather pay for a drink than attend a dry wedding. I know that is not a popular opinion on here, but I'm just throwing that out there.
  • vsgalvsgal member
    Eighth Anniversary 250 Love Its 500 Comments Name Dropper
    I would cut out the champange toast.  You are not getting a good bang for you buck. $65 for a gallon in heinous.  Plus a lot of people don't care for champagne.  Take that money and do beer, wine, soda.  I will be cheaper.  If you bring your own, some stores will take back unopenend bottles of wine.  It will also be more well recieved by your guests.
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  • Absolutely agree to skip the champaign toast and champaign punch.  Most people don't even like champaign unless it is the really good stuff, and plenty don't like that!

    Take that money and do beer/wine/soda all night.  Do not have alcohol during one part and then switch to no alcohol or cash bar.  Can you afford to do beer/wine all night?

    And I'm going to say this:  I would have a dry wedding before I would ever consider a cash bar, but.....I was freaking ecstatic when BIL decided he would allow a cash bar instead of no bar at niece's wedding.  DH's other 5 sibs were quite happy too.  It was not a fun wedding, low budget (NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT!), and no DJ and no dancing.  Without the bar the place would have cleared out far earlier than it did.

    We refuse to host anything with a cash bar - we provide for our guests and we only plan what we can afford to properly host.  Please do not think I am undermining that at all.  We were all just happy we had the option.


  • In Response to Re: Cash Bar or No Bar at all after Cocktail Hour???:
    [QUOTE]I agree that a cash bar is rude, but as a guest I would prefer that to no alcohol. I know most people will disagree with me on that. 
    Posted by emeejeeayen[/QUOTE]

    I'm with you.  I know that from an etiquette standpoint, it is better to have no alcohol than a cash bar, but as a guest, I prefer a cash bar to no alcohol.
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited May 2013
    Even if some people prefer to pay for alcohol than not have it available at a wedding, cash bars are rude.  Period.  Nobody should be charged for anything they eat or drink; nobody has the right to expect alcohol at weddings simply because they are weddings.
  • Blue_BirdBlue_Bird Bawlmer member
    Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 500 Comments First Answer
    In Response to Cash Bar or No Bar at all after Cocktail Hour???:
    [QUOTE]I know this has already been discussed endlessly on wedding boards, but I am trying to decide between providing a cash bar or having no bar at all for my wedding reception. I am providing a champagne toast for guests during the reception, as well as champagne punch during the cocktail hour (at $65/gallon!). However, this alone is a strain on our very small budget, and the option of providing alcoholic beverages during the reception as well would be impossible. Yes, we've considered the beer/wine/soda option only, and that too is extremely expensive and out of our budget, as our venue requires that they provide all of the beverages. As a wedding guest, would you prefer to have the option to pay for additional drinks if you wanted them during the reception, or would the idea of a cash bar (even after cocktail hour) turn you off?
    Posted by pittsamp7[/QUOTE]

    Wat's provided at the cocktail hour must be provided at the reception for free. If you can only afford champagne and soft drinks, then that is what you offer for the cocktail hour as well as the rest of the evening. Do not offer anything you can't cover yourselves.
  • Scrap the champagne punch and champagne toast.  That cost is ridiculous and could be better used to pay for the wine/beer option during the reception.  I'd much rather drink wine or beer than champagne punch...as PPs have mentioned, so would the majority of folks around here.  I'm guessing the majority of your wedding guests would feel the same.

    If you want the champagne punch, make some for when you & your BP are getting ready in the bridal suite.
    Where there is love, there is life.-Ghandi
  • As a host, I would cut corners almost anywhere else in order to not have a cash bar. I wouldn't consider having one. 

    As a guest, I would prefer a cash bar to no bar at all. If it was a morning wedding or a wedding of a friend who didn't drink or was against it, I'd go in expecting a no-alcohol experience. However, if the dry wedding was on a Saturday night for friends with whom we regularly drank, it would be disappointing and unexpected. I look forward to partying at weddings. Not having a bar would change the whole atmosphere. People are much more social and dancy when they've had a drink. I've actually never been to a wedding without alcohol. I'd shell out a few bucks for drinks. I don't even think I'd be that bothered by it as long as I either knew in advance so I could bring some cash or could use a credit card. I rarely carry actual cash.

    I also don't like the idea of serving alcohol early in the night and stopping. If you serve alcohol, you need to serve it all night.

    I'm not saying a cash bar is okay. I'm just stating my personal preference as per your post. If you go ahead with that option, there will likely be people who disagree with me and find it rude.
  • People never remember what your bridal party wore, what your self written vows said, nor what cute diy crafts you did. It sucks, but they dont. What they DO remember is if the host was stingey and made them pay for anything, and if the food was good. It's totally your decision if you want to have everyone remember the wedding as 'mediocre' or 'typical', or if you want them to remember it as the best damn wedding they've been to. People still approach me almost a year later raving about how much fun they had, and how impressed they were that they weren't asked to pay for anything.
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  • I personally would be pissed to start getting my drink on during cocktail hour and then be cut off. I can get cut off at a bar on any random night  - I don't want to do that at a wedding. 
    Scrap the champagne punch, and put whatever you can to having some drinks. Unless you do a dry wedding. But I've been to 2 dry weddings and both I left about 30 minutes into the reception to go to a bar.
    Sorry, me likey the wine.
  • AJuliaNJAJuliaNJ member
    1000 Comments 250 Love Its Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited May 2013
    In Response to Re:Cash Bar or No Bar at all after Cocktail Hour???:I personally would be pissed to start getting my drink on during cocktail hour and then be cut off. I can get cut off at a bar on any random night nbsp; I don't want to do that at a wedding.nbsp;Scrap the champagne punch, and put whatever you can to having some drinks. Unless you do a dry wedding. But I've been to 2 dry weddings and both I left about 30 minutes into the reception to go to a bar.Sorry, me likey the wine. Posted by cwaggoner07 Our sorority had a dry formal once and everyone kept going back to their hotel rooms and the bar in the hotel's restaurant to drink. The room for the formal was half empty most of the night. I wouldn't underestimate how much people like having their drinks at these events. If start thinking about what you could eliminate to have a bar. Pricy champagne? Favors? A dessert?
  • seshat303seshat303 member
    100 Comments 25 Love Its First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited May 2013
    In Response to Re: Cash Bar or No Bar at all after Cocktail Hour???:
    [QUOTE]As a host, I would cut corners almost anywhere else in order to not have a cash bar. I wouldn't consider having one.  As a guest, I would prefer a cash bar to no bar at all. If it was a morning wedding or a wedding of a friend who didn't drink or was against it, I'd go in expecting a no-alcohol experience. However, if the dry wedding was on a Saturday night for friends with whom we regularly drank, it would be disappointing and unexpected. I look forward to partying at weddings. Not having a bar would change the whole atmosphere. People are much more social and dancy when they've had a drink. I've actually never been to a wedding without alcohol. I'd shell out a few bucks for drinks. I don't even think I'd be that bothered by it as long as I either knew in advance so I could bring some cash or could use a credit card. I rarely carry actual cash. I also don't like the idea of serving alcohol early in the night and stopping. If you serve alcohol, you need to serve it all night. I'm not saying a cash bar is okay. I'm just stating my personal preference as per your post. If you go ahead with that option, there will likely be people who disagree with me and find it rude.
    Posted by AndreaJulia[/QUOTE]

    Ditto.  I've been to weddings with full cash, partially hosted (wine and beer, but hard liquor available for purchase), and full open bars and I have not judged a single wedding based on their bar.  I would, however, be a bit miffed if I attended a wedding that was dry purely due to budget constraints.  You probably have to know your audience to know whether they'd be offended or not because clearly many people feel very strongly against cash bars (and they are technically against etiquette).  I do know if I had to choose between a cash bar and a dry wedding (thankfully I don't) I do know that my family and friends would be way more upset with a dry wedding.
  • RebeccaB88RebeccaB88 Figment of Your Imagination member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    In Response to Re:Cash Bar or No Bar at all after Cocktail Hour???:
    [QUOTE]To answer the question you asked: as a guest, I would rather pay for a drink than attend a dry wedding.
    Posted by ROBINRENE5[/QUOTE]

    And on the flipside, I would rather attend a dry wedding than a cash bar.

    So, unfortunately, you probably won't be able to please everyone. Someone will always have rather you chose the other option. But, the dry wedding is the more etiquette appropriate choice, or nix the champagne punch for a beer/wine service. Or do a more neutral alcoholic drink like a rum or vodka punch, if you have more hard liquor drinkers than wine drinkers.
  • In Response to Cash Bar or No Bar at all after Cocktail Hour???:
    [QUOTE]I know this has already been discussed endlessly on wedding boards, but I am trying to decide between providing a cash bar or having no bar at all for my wedding reception. I am providing a champagne toast for guests during the reception, as well as champagne punch during the cocktail hour (at $65/gallon!). However, this alone is a strain on our very small budget, and the option of providing alcoholic beverages during the reception as well would be impossible. Yes, we've considered the beer/wine/soda option only, and that too is extremely expensive and out of our budget, as our venue requires that they provide all of the beverages. As a wedding guest, would you prefer to have the option to pay for additional drinks if you wanted them during the reception, or would the idea of a cash bar (even after cocktail hour) turn you off?
    Posted by pittsamp7[/QUOTE]

    People HERE will tell you cash bars are rude, however, many people I know in the real world would prefer to pay for liquor over not having any at all at a wedding....

    If you have to do a "cash bar" make sure it is CLEARLY stated at the bar so your guests dont end up embarassed, though
  • As I stated before, I know that it goes against etiquette, but I would rather have a cash bar than no alcohol available at all.  The other thing is, you need to know your crowd.  I have never attended a wedding with an open bar.  Ever.  Every single wedding I've attended has had beer (and sometimes wine) hosted with  liquor available for purchase.  My family and friends would never be offended at attending a wedding with a partial cash bar because it is just how it is done in our circle (and in most circles in my area).  However, my family and friends would literally complain for YEARS if they were invited to a dry wedding, and most would probably leave after an hour or so to go to a bar.  Again, I know that this flies in the face of etiquette, but it would be the reality in my circle.
  • I guess I don't "get" why it's an either or option.

    For us, alcohol isn't an 'extra'.   There may be levels that can be provided (we didn't toast with Crystale and opted for a moderately priced domestic sparkling wine as an example) but the idea of no alcohol never entered the picture.

    Likewise, we served great food.   The filet wasn't dry aged out of Loebel's in NYC but it was still fantastic and everyone ate well.


    Basically, why would you plan an event, book a venue, buy clothing, etc and then consider alcohol as an afterthought?   I just don't get the thought processing.
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    Depends on the time of day.

    Daytime wedding I would just have a dry wedding.  Night time wedding I would prefer to have a cash bar.  However, that would not stop me from judging you for making me open my wallet.

    This is all speculation though.  I've never attended a dry or cash bar wedding. 






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    In Response to Re: Cash Bar or No Bar at all after Cocktail Hour???:
    [QUOTE]I guess I don't "get" why it's an either or option. For us, alcohol isn't an 'extra'.   There may be levels that can be provided (we didn't toast with Crystale and opted for a moderately priced domestic sparkling wine as an example) but the idea of no alcohol never entered the picture. Likewise, we served great food.   The filet wasn't dry aged out of Loebel's in NYC but it was still fantastic and everyone ate well. Basically, why would you plan an event, book a venue, buy clothing, etc and then consider alcohol as an afterthought?   I just don't get the thought processing.
    Posted by banana468[/QUOTE]

    I bet if we went on Ancestry.com we would find out we were related.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • I am not a cash bar fan. I think its tacky to make guests pay for their drinks, and I am DEFINITELY having an open bar at my wedding. However, as a guest, I would prefer to have an open cocktail hour or cash bar instead of no booze. I would be pissed to get to a wedding and find out there was no booze. I've been to a couple weddings with open bar for cocktail hour, and usually loaded up there, and bought a couple drinks later on. Its nice not to, but like others have said, I'd rather have the option to drink.
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