New Hampshire

Cash bar?

I've read enough posts on the other boards to see that most feel a cash bar is rude. I wanted to get the opinion of people local to me. I've been to several weddings and have never had an open bar. I always brought cash expecting to pay for my own drinks.
We were thinking of hosting beer and wine for cocktail hour and then cash ba after that, except we would pay for soda.
Your thoughts please! !

Re: Cash bar?

  • I don't have any problem with that. We're thinking about the same thing. Most of the weddings I have been to have not had full open bars. Occasionally one during cocktail hour. I think the etiquette police on this site go a little crazy with the whole "You should have a dry reception rather than a cash bar." I'd say do what you can afford. Don't let anyone pressure you into an open bar. Do whats right for you and your fiance and your families.
  • I think they're rude too.  Never been to a cash bar wedding and I've only been to local weddings.  I agree to do what you can afford- I've seen limited bars or soft bars.

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  • Cash bars are rude.

    With that said, I'm used to them her and am not personally offended by them unless soft drinks are not on the house (If you make me pay for a diet coke, I will judge you for life).

    I am appreciative of a hosted cocktail hours, but it is confusing to have them free one minute to guests and have to pay the next. It can be embarrassing if they don't have their wallet with them the second time, or worse....didn't bring their wallet at all.

    I personally would eliminate the cash bar and host the beer and wine for the event.... or even just wine (and soft drinks...of course).


    You'll never be subject to a cash bar, gap, potluck wedding, or b-list if you marry a Muppet Overlord.
  • I've been in and to at least 6 weddings in the past two years, and have seen a hosted bar, hosted beer and wine only, and a cash bar.  When it's a totally open bar, people seem to drink too much and don't keep track of where their drinks are!  I wouldn't do it personally since the liability issue is always there.  I did hear comments at the total cash bar, and that wedding ended sooner than they had planned since people left ... not sure if the cash bar was the reason but comments I heard led me think that was a big part of it.   At my wedding (hopefully in 2014 or 15!) I am planning on beer and wine hosted with free soft drinks and juices and waters.  It's really expensive to get friends and family drunk!  :)  IMHO, make something free!
  • The only reason there might be any liability is if you host the wedding yourselves. If that's the case, I suggest hiring bartenders who can cut people off accordingly.


    You'll never be subject to a cash bar, gap, potluck wedding, or b-list if you marry a Muppet Overlord.
  • I have been to several wedding recently myself as well, and most of them were open bar during cocktail hour only. I don't think it's rude, I think its very practical. The wedding that was open bar all night, people were drinking way too much, ordering two drinks at a time and forgetting were they left their drinks and just ordering more. I spoke to two venues that advise against an open all night because of what they have seen go down!! Sometimes you just have to do whats affordable. So with that being said, we decided to go with open bar during cocktail hour only. I think everyone will still enjoy themselves just as much, and also remember it too!! :)
  • I think people who think cash bars are rude, are RUDE!! I have never been to a wedding in this area with a full open bar. I have been to one with open bar only during cocktail hour and then beer and soft drinks were free all night. Both other weddings didn't even have open bar at cocktail hour. I love a good drink, don't get me wrong, but if you are already feeding me and showing me a good time, and giving me a few free drinks during cocktail hour, I am one happy camper. All of my friends are the exact same way! 
  • I think people who think cash bars are rude, are RUDE!! 
    Love this.  I completely agree!  I've never been to a bar that was completely open.  I find no problem with paying for my drinks.  I would consider having an open cocktail hour but beyond that it is out of our budget.  I think people would be happier paying for a drink than not having an option to drink at all.  The only wedding I"ve been annoyed with the drink selection is at a dry wedding ;)
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  • Thank you for all the feedback! Open bars are not the norm in my social circle and they never bothered me, I didn't even know they were considered rude until I started lurking here!

    My best friend eloped in Jamaica and then had a reception at home a month later, with the dress, cake, first dance etc.. I did not know that was considered PPD, I was just excited to celebrate with her!

    I'm going to continue lurking so when it comes time to plan our wedding I'll know what's considered proper ettiquete and what's not!
  • People who think they are rude aren't rude... cash bars are entirely against etiquette so it's acceptable they find them rude.

    It's okay that you're used to them, just keep in mind that they're still against etiquette so others may be offended. I just beg whoever reads this to provide soft drinks at minimum

    As a point of feedback, my wedding was this month and I had a brunch wedding that had a limited open bar that included domestic beer, wine, mimosas, bloody mary's and a number of soft drinks. We had budgeted $1500 based on drink calculators but It cost under $700 for about 65 people and every was very pleased with the options.  No other beverages were available.


    You'll never be subject to a cash bar, gap, potluck wedding, or b-list if you marry a Muppet Overlord.
  • We have $1500 in our budget tops for booze. Our venue does not offer a per person open bar, just hosted bar where we pay the per drink tab at the end of the night (no way to predict this is a bit unnerving), drink tickets (venue's offering), purchasing $1500 in alcohol and closing the bar when this tab is reached (is this similar to running out of booze?), and cash bar. I feel like there is no way to win here.
  • What's your guest count?


    You'll never be subject to a cash bar, gap, potluck wedding, or b-list if you marry a Muppet Overlord.
  • Probably 80 tops. Luckily food is affordable but the venue also charges per drink soft drinks and says water (though I hope this means bottled water, not tap). Wouldn't dream of not providing soda or water so that's another piece of math. They offer beer ($5) and wine ($7), or upgrade to include liquor ($9) which I won't do just so things can stretch farther.
  • I would do beer and wine only for the night. Most of the drinks will be purchased in the first 2 hours. After that, it trickles. I would ask them to alert you around the $1,200 mark so you can decide whether you want to continue or not. I think it's acceptable to stop serving all together around the 1 hour til end mark.

    One thing that will reduce hard consumption are punches. I was considering this after seeing it at a wedding but ultimately removed it. They had a alcoholic and non alcoholic punch available, priced by the batch. People tend to be comfortable going up to get it themselves and drink more of it. However; if you have any minors, they may require that the alcoholic punch be behind the bar.

    I would also ask them to work with you more. Are there house wines that you could purchase by the bottle consumed at a better rate than $7/glass? I did that at my first wedding.


    You'll never be subject to a cash bar, gap, potluck wedding, or b-list if you marry a Muppet Overlord.
  • I would prefer beer and wine - I want to make the most of our budget so that everyone has a good time. Unfortunately, despite the venue being a brewery they won't sell beer by the keg or wine by the bottle. Yet they will let you pay per bottle price for champagne? Maybe if we keep asking they will change their minds? Fiancé will be sad that beer and wine only means he and his brothers can't drink jake and coke during the reception but I think I can make the budget logistics a good argument.
  • Hard to justify adding that much cost to a wedding for a few drinks..... What if the Jack and Coke is a theme at the Rehersal Dinner?

    We had a fall wedding so we featured Pumpkin Beer at our RD. Our grooms gifts had alcohol components too.

    You could give them monogrammed flasks and a nice bottle of rum at the RD and that can start it for them.


    You'll never be subject to a cash bar, gap, potluck wedding, or b-list if you marry a Muppet Overlord.
  • I've only been to weddings with cash bars in this area, and we are having one ourselves. Not because of money but because my family doesn't drink. If it were up to my parents (and it kind of is because they're paying...) it'd be an entirely dry wedding, but the venue includes a restaurant with a bar that doesn't close, so we saw it as a compromise (and still allows my MOH to smuggle me drinks! Yay!). As a guest I'd pick a cash bar over a dry wedding anyway, so it was really the best option I had.

    Instead we're hosting a hot cocoa bar (it's in February) in place of cocktail hour, so we're not leaving guests completely high and dry in the refreshments department. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to attend a wedding with an open bar someday, but I would never assume it'd be provided based on weddings I've been to and would certainly not think a cash bar was rude.
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