So, being a regular poster on E I already know the answer to this from an ettiquette point of view, but I also think that what's common in your area/circle plays into this as well.
So FI and I can't afford an open bar without cutting the guest list pretty dramatically (read: hurting a lot of people's feelings). Our compromise is to put two bottles of wine on each table, which works out to two drinks per person. We're also having a champagne toast (add a third drink) and giving everyone 3 (or maybe 4) drink tickets which brings the total number of drinks per person to 6 (or maybe 7).
FI is the first to get married on his side of the family, so there isn't a trend to follow there. Out of my 4 cousins that have gotten married recently, two had open and two had cash. My brother got married last summer and did tickets and at my Dad's wedding last September he had a cash bar. Only one of my friends had gotten married and they did tickets. So there's been a variety of bar options in my circle.
I figure with tickets, the guests that don't want to drink so much can share their tickets with those that do so the chances of them actually having to pay for a drink is smaller. Is this really horrible to do for my wedding? If you were a guest would you pass hardcore judgement?