Wedding Etiquette Forum

Guest Expected A Cash Bar

Got married 4 weeks ago.  Had a full open bar.  Everyone enjoyed themselves.

My Mom was catching up w a friend of hers that attended.  He commented that the wedding was great and he couldn't believe the drinks were free all night!

Made me wonder how many weddings he attended that the guests were treated so rudely.

I have only been to one wedding in the last 5 yrs that was a cash bar.

I was shocked to hear that he was so surprised we had an open bar. Happy that him and his wife enjoyed themselves so much.

Sorry, I hope the subject didn't make you think that I was having a cash bar and my guest were OK with it!

JediElizabethJen4948Heffalumponefootinthebayoulyndausvi
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Re: Guest Expected A Cash Bar

  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers

    Sadly, his experience suggests that the whole cash bar thing tends to start with one person in a circle having a cash bar at their wedding, and then every subsequent wedding in that circle that follows has a cash bar due to the couple and/or the hosts telling themselves, "A & B's wedding had a cash bar so it must be okay."  Then a chain reaction of cash bars follows, which results in people like your guest being shocked when the bars at the weddings they attend are open.

    It's pathetic when people are surprised by good manners and hospitality because they've come to take rudeness for granted.

    Best wishes and congratulations!

    Blue_Bird
  • Yes, my entire extended family was shocked that I had an open bar at my wedding (beer, wine, and 2 signature drinks...not a fully stocked bar). In fact, there was concern among some of my immediate relatives that I was going to come across as pretentious and throwing my money in their faces (my relatives are generally not well-off) by having an open bar. 

    I ignored all the criticism and had the well-hosted wedding I wanted. I don't care if people think I'm uppity if they're comparison is rude people who don't know how to host!  And I'm pretty sure everyone enjoyed all the free drinks, regardless of what they thought!
    Blue_Bird
  •  

    Jen4948 said:

    Sadly, his experience suggests that the whole cash bar thing tends to start with one person in a circle having a cash bar at their wedding, and then every subsequent wedding in that circle that follows has a cash bar due to the couple and/or the hosts telling themselves, "A & B's wedding had a cash bar so it must be okay."  Then a chain reaction of cash bars follows, which results in people like your guest being shocked when the bars at the weddings they attend are open.

    It's pathetic when people are surprised by good manners and hospitality because they've come to take rudeness for granted.

    Best wishes and congratulations!

    EXACTLY to the bolded.


    Thank you all for the well wishes :) Time is flying.  I actually realized it's been almost 6 weeks since our wedding, not 4-OOPS!

  • Yep. I am the first person in my family to have a wedding without a gap. Everyone commented how nice it was to walk from the ceremony space right into the cocktail area. Yes, yes it is nice. Much nicer than going home, getting undressed, getting re-dressed, and then heading out again four hours later.
    image
    InLoveInQueensSP29lyndausviPrettyGirlLost
  • I have never been to a wedding with an open bar.  I had heard of it being a thing at massive, lavish affairs but an open bar has just not been a part of my experience.  As much as people here HATE the concept of a cash bar, it really is a cultural thing.  

    The most common scenario I have encountered is keg beer and NA refreshments for all and other beverages available for purchase.  Offering a certain number of drink tickets (2-3) with subsequent beverages for purchase is also popular.  Only offering NA drinks and all booze for purchase is somewhat less common but also not unusual.

    The weddings I have been to so far have been people I know from the small town where I grew up.  Open bars are much more common in the city where I now live, but still far from expected.  My wedding will have an open bar with all top-shelf liquors and custom cocktails.  Partially because my partner and I are amateur mixologists who love creating new cocktails and partially because we have a hefty beverage minimum to meet.  If we tried to get people to pay for $7 Mich Golden pints and rail drinks, we would wind up paying out a massive amount anyway to make up however much we were under the minimum.  
  • Same at ours, and we didn't even have a full bar... just keg beer, 1 white white, 1 red wine, and 3 liquor choices (vodka, whiskey, and rum) with mixers.  People were just astonished we didn't ask them to pay for anything.
    Married 9.12.15
    image
    SP29
  • Jen4948 said:.  

    "Culture" isn't an excuse for being rude to your guests.  If it became common in your culture, it's because everyone seems to have agreed en masse to accept the unacceptable in terms of hospitality. 

    When all is said and done, in North America and at least in western Europe, it is not appropriate to pass on any cost of hosting to one's guests, whether that's for drinks, parking, or whatever.  Those costs are supposed to be covered by the hosts.  Guests are not supposed to be expected to open their wallets.  If you don't want to pay for some amenity, don't offer it to your guests, regardless of what they "expect." End of story.  If your guests want it so badly that they're willing to pay for it, they need to do so not only on their own dime but also their own time-not at their hosts' home or private event.

    Views of what is or is not "proper" hospitality are ever-changing.  In ancient Semitic cultures, it would have unconscionable to limit a guest list in any way; hosts were expected to provide for any and all people that happened to show up.  In Medieval Europe, proper hosting meant providing a bed to anyone who had attended your feast.  In Victorian times, a lady would not have dreamed of arriving to another's house without a calling card.  Those cultural requirements are no longer in effect.  

    And neither is the no-cash-bars-ever "rule."  It's nice if you can drink yourself silly for free, if that happens to be what you want to do.  But it's not the worst thing ever if you have a choice of several items for free and premium items at a charge.  It would be nice if the wedding couple sent a private jet/black towncar to collect every guest.  But it's not the worst thing ever if you have to use your own gas to get to the party.

    I don't have a dog in this fight.  I am having an open bar at my reception because I like the idea of sharing some delicious drinks with everybody and I have the means to do so.  But I would never look down my nose at someone who decides to do what the majority of people in my experience have done--every single wedding I have attended and well over half of the weddings that take place at the venue I work for.  I get that other regions have different norms.
    50+andProudSiostra

  • Jen4948 said:.  

    "Culture" isn't an excuse for being rude to your guests.  If it became common in your culture, it's because everyone seems to have agreed en masse to accept the unacceptable in terms of hospitality. 

    When all is said and done, in North America and at least in western Europe, it is not appropriate to pass on any cost of hosting to one's guests, whether that's for drinks, parking, or whatever.  Those costs are supposed to be covered by the hosts.  Guests are not supposed to be expected to open their wallets.  If you don't want to pay for some amenity, don't offer it to your guests, regardless of what they "expect." End of story.  If your guests want it so badly that they're willing to pay for it, they need to do so not only on their own dime but also their own time-not at their hosts' home or private event.

    Views of what is or is not "proper" hospitality are ever-changing.  In ancient Semitic cultures, it would have unconscionable to limit a guest list in any way; hosts were expected to provide for any and all people that happened to show up.  In Medieval Europe, proper hosting meant providing a bed to anyone who had attended your feast.  In Victorian times, a lady would not have dreamed of arriving to another's house without a calling card.  Those cultural requirements are no longer in effect.  

    And neither is the no-cash-bars-ever "rule."  It's nice if you can drink yourself silly for free, if that happens to be what you want to do.  But it's not the worst thing ever if you have a choice of several items for free and premium items at a charge.  It would be nice if the wedding couple sent a private jet/black towncar to collect every guest.  But it's not the worst thing ever if you have to use your own gas to get to the party.

    I don't have a dog in this fight.  I am having an open bar at my reception because I like the idea of sharing some delicious drinks with everybody and I have the means to do so.  But I would never look down my nose at someone who decides to do what the majority of people in my experience have done--every single wedding I have attended and well over half of the weddings that take place at the venue I work for.  I get that other regions have different norms.
    This would not be a cash bar this would be a beer wine select drinks open bar, a cash bar is where you have to buy ANY Alcoholic drinks.
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  • It's interesting to see people's views on what they are used to and what is "expected" or not.

    When DH and I got married, an open bar was included as part of our package price, so that was easy peasy. However, I am sure if it wasn't, that DH would have been against an open bar because he wouldn't want to "pay for other people to get drunk". But now that we are older and have been to a variety of events as adults (other weddings, work events, social events, charity events, even house parties), it has entirely changed DH's view (and mine!) about what good hosting is. It is amazing how after being well hosted one time you think, "OMG- this is how it's supposed to be!". 

    This is not to say I would stop being friends with anyone who had a cash bar, but I think that it really changes the atmosphere of an event (even if it's a house party) when you are properly hosted vs. not. 

    Not long ago we were at a friends house for a brunch baby shower. Other friends of ours are planning a wedding for next year and others started joking about an open bar. Then someone started with, "No no! Have a toonie bar!" and then, "No one expects to have an open bar if you're young, poor, or students", and "people waste drinks or get stupid drunk if they aren't paying for it themselves" with many people agreeing, because it's what they've always seen and what they did at their own wedding. DH and I kept our mouths shut, as to not offend our friends, but DH and I know how we would host any guests in our future. 

    The above conversation does really come down to economics. When one of my friends said, "no one expects an open bar when you're young/poor/students" because it's expensive, I wanted to say, "so you invite less people". 
    [Deleted User]InLoveInQueens
  • WinstonsGirlWinstonsGirl The Cold North member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Cash bars (twoonie, usually) are the norm here.  The only open bar wedding I've attended (other than my own) was a morning wedding where mimosas were passed out for the 30 min cocktail hour while they snuck in some photos.  Doesn't mean it's ok just cos everyone does it

    MesmrEwe
  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited November 2015

    The only wedding I've ever attended that WASN'T a cash bar...  I think maybe one or two in my lifetime.  I think I've been to more BYOB weddings than I have fully hosted bar ones..  Doesn't make it right hosting, but of life's battles, this isn't my hill to die on...

    The norm I've experienced, is everyone hosts something for the evening along with NA's but full hosted, it's just not the norm...  At most it'd be a short window of time then it was a cash bar the remainder of the evening.  Given that, the only time I personally find it rude is when they don't cover at least SOMETHING the entire evening, even if only NA's (yes, the side-eye was apparent at the BYOB, but that's an entirely different discussion.. even if I did fully enjoy my $$ Spritz)..   Again - just not my "hill to die on" issue when it comes to weddings...


  • DON'T SHOUT ME DOWN YET LADIES

    I really like cash bars, from a guest point of view - I feel really uncomfortable with people buying me stuff, especially paying for my drinks or dinner or whatever.

    My logic is that as a guest I'm more than happy with whatever you provide me with - but if I want a drink, I don't expect you to buy it for me.  If I want to get hammered, I'll do it on my own dime, thank you very much.  

    It's the same as if I go to a friends house for dinner, I'll bring a bottle of wine or spirits or something - not because I don't think they'll host properly, but because I feel like I'm giving them back something.

    NOW you can shout at me.

    A word about culture - just because a tradition/whatever (whether it be cash bar, potluck meal or a dowry) doesn't fit with western ideas of etiquette, it doesn't mean it's invalid or rude.  

    I lived in India for a while - there, it's encouraged for your invited guests to bring their friends along and you're not expected to ask the B&G first.  I attended various weddings, from a tiny "registry office style" wedding (40 people, the most "western" in style, w/ an open bar (I am aware it's traditionally a dry country, but trust me alcohol is cheap and easily accessible)) , South Indian Christian (900 people) and a traditional Hindu shebang (2500 attendees, potluck!)

    Doing that in the UK would bring down the almighty wrath of The Knot forums on our heads -but there, in another culture, it's the norm.

    I've found there's very little tolerance on this site for people who don't follow the "correct" (read, western) way.

    FYI, I'm not doing a cash bar - I'm having soft-drinks, beer, wine and a signature cocktail hosted, but if someone wants to do tequila shots that badly, then they can buy/bring their own.
  • I've only been to nine weddings as an adult, including my own. When I think back, six of them were open bar, one of them was a cash bar (except the wine on the table with dinner), one of them was a dry wedding (with a bar in an adjoining venue that we were free to go and use, pay for ourselves. Side note= groom was recovered alcoholic.) and one of them had a window of time where it was open bar and then it turned into a cash bar. I believe if I remember correctly we were also given tickets that we could put towards a drink or two but after that it was a cash bar.

    For my wedding, the idea of a cash bar was tacky and unappealing to me. I was willing to sacrifice in other areas to cover the cost of an open bar. Then I was so blessed my father-in-law asked to cover the bar tab as an amazing wedding gift to us. (He is so generous.) 

    When I'm a guest at a wedding, a cash bar is a disappointment. At this current time, I actually haven't had anything to drink at all in over a year because I was pregnant and then breast feeding and drinking just doesn't appeal to me right now...so if I were to go to a wedding now I wouldn't really care as I don't want to have a drink anyway. But, in the past, and probably in the future, a cash bar is a disappointment and I feel like it makes the bride and groom look bad. 

    Having said that, I don't think that most people I know think cash bars are bad or unusual nor a reason to think badly of the bride and groom. I don't think most people I know realize that it's actually poor etiquette. 
    "It's always better when we're together." -Jack Johnson
    MesmrEweIamnowmrsjmsSP29InLoveInQueens
  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    DON'T SHOUT ME DOWN YET LADIES

    I really like cash bars, from a guest point of view - I feel really uncomfortable with people buying me stuff, especially paying for my drinks or dinner or whatever.

    My logic is that as a guest I'm more than happy with whatever you provide me with - but if I want a drink, I don't expect you to buy it for me.  If I want to get hammered, I'll do it on my own dime, thank you very much.  

    It's the same as if I go to a friends house for dinner, I'll bring a bottle of wine or spirits or something - not because I don't think they'll host properly, but because I feel like I'm giving them back something.

    NOW you can shout at me.

    STUCK IN BOX. 

    To the bolded. I can see sort of where you're coming from; I don't like friends treating me to stuff and we definitely bring something to dinner parties / backyard BBQs. But, in the case of a wedding, often what you're "giving back" is a wedding gift. A wedding is a major event that normally includes giving the couple a celebratory gift (even though gifts are never required). If my friend hosts a Superbowl party and everyone brings something like alcohol or dessert to share, everyone's happy.The focus is on the Superbowl, not the hosts. A wedding, the focus is on the hosts, and I'm bringing something for them, not everyone else. The point I'm trying to make is that it's a different kind of party. Also, the alcohol logic doesn't hold; if they hosted a buffet, would you eat birdlike portions because you don't want to stuff yourself silly on their dime?   
    ________________________________


    Liatris2010[Deleted User]MGPSP29
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers

    DON'T SHOUT ME DOWN YET LADIES

    I really like cash bars, from a guest point of view - I feel really uncomfortable with people buying me stuff, especially paying for my drinks or dinner or whatever.

    My logic is that as a guest I'm more than happy with whatever you provide me with - but if I want a drink, I don't expect you to buy it for me.  If I want to get hammered, I'll do it on my own dime, thank you very much.  

    It's the same as if I go to a friends house for dinner, I'll bring a bottle of wine or spirits or something - not because I don't think they'll host properly, but because I feel like I'm giving them back something.

    NOW you can shout at me.

    A word about culture - just because a tradition/whatever (whether it be cash bar, potluck meal or a dowry) doesn't fit with western ideas of etiquette, it doesn't mean it's invalid or rude.  

    I lived in India for a while - there, it's encouraged for your invited guests to bring their friends along and you're not expected to ask the B&G first.  I attended various weddings, from a tiny "registry office style" wedding (40 people, the most "western" in style, w/ an open bar (I am aware it's traditionally a dry country, but trust me alcohol is cheap and easily accessible)) , South Indian Christian (900 people) and a traditional Hindu shebang (2500 attendees, potluck!)

    Doing that in the UK would bring down the almighty wrath of The Knot forums on our heads -but there, in another culture, it's the norm.

    I've found there's very little tolerance on this site for people who don't follow the "correct" (read, western) way.

    FYI, I'm not doing a cash bar - I'm having soft-drinks, beer, wine and a signature cocktail hosted, but if someone wants to do tequila shots that badly, then they can buy/bring their own.

    Sorry to have to break it to you, but...

    If you're attending an event in a place that observes western culture, which includes North America and most of Europe, you need to accept the fact that you're not entitled to buy yourself drinks and get drunk on your own dime if the hosts didn't provide drinks.  It's telling the hosts, "What you provided in the way of hospitality isn't good enough for me."  Regardless of whether or not the hospitality includes alcoholic drinks, that's never an appropriate or gracious message to send your hosts.  If you accept hospitality in a western culture, you accept what's offered and wait until you're on your own time to get anything you still want on your own dime.

    CMGragainMGPSTARMOON44SP29
  • One of the wedding disasters I attended had a centerpiece that featured an unopened bottle of champagne.  The guests were eagerly awaiting the uncorking of the bottles.  Then the word was passed: no drinking the champagne.  The couple hadn't paid attention to the outside alcohol rule and had brought in the champagne, assuming it would be OK to drink it.  The venue said "No way!  Read your contract!" 
    Knowing how clueless the bride was, I thought it was funny.  Iced tea was OK for me!
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    MesmrEweVicTim328
  • DON'T SHOUT ME DOWN YET LADIES


    I really like cash bars, from a guest point of view - I feel really uncomfortable with people buying me stuff, especially paying for my drinks or dinner or whatever.

    My logic is that as a guest I'm more than happy with whatever you provide me with - but if I want a drink, I don't expect you to buy it for me.  If I want to get hammered, I'll do it on my own dime, thank you very much.  

    It's the same as if I go to a friends house for dinner, I'll bring a bottle of wine or spirits or something - not because I don't think they'll host properly, but because I feel like I'm giving them back something.

    NOW you can shout at me.

    A word about culture - just because a tradition/whatever (whether it be cash bar, potluck meal or a dowry) doesn't fit with western ideas of etiquette, it doesn't mean it's invalid or rude.  

    I lived in India for a while - there, it's encouraged for your invited guests to bring their friends along and you're not expected to ask the B&G first.  I attended various weddings, from a tiny "registry office style" wedding (40 people, the most "western" in style, w/ an open bar (I am aware it's traditionally a dry country, but trust me alcohol is cheap and easily accessible)) , South Indian Christian (900 people) and a traditional Hindu shebang (2500 attendees, potluck!)

    Doing that in the UK would bring down the almighty wrath of The Knot forums on our heads -but there, in another culture, it's the norm.

    I've found there's very little tolerance on this site for people who don't follow the "correct" (read, western) way.

    FYI, I'm not doing a cash bar - I'm having soft-drinks, beer, wine and a signature cocktail hosted, but if someone wants to do tequila shots that badly, then they can buy/bring their own.


    Do you not eat food then at weddings? You should maybe just get over your bizarre aversion to graciously accepting hospitality. It's rude to deny others the chance to be good hosts.
    InLoveInQueens[Deleted User]SP29MyNameIsNot
  • DON'T SHOUT ME DOWN YET LADIES


    I really like cash bars, from a guest point of view - I feel really uncomfortable with people buying me stuff, especially paying for my drinks or dinner or whatever.

    My logic is that as a guest I'm more than happy with whatever you provide me with - but if I want a drink, I don't expect you to buy it for me.  If I want to get hammered, I'll do it on my own dime, thank you very much.  

    It's the same as if I go to a friends house for dinner, I'll bring a bottle of wine or spirits or something - not because I don't think they'll host properly, but because I feel like I'm giving them back something.

    NOW you can shout at me.

    A word about culture - just because a tradition/whatever (whether it be cash bar, potluck meal or a dowry) doesn't fit with western ideas of etiquette, it doesn't mean it's invalid or rude.  

    I lived in India for a while - there, it's encouraged for your invited guests to bring their friends along and you're not expected to ask the B&G first.  I attended various weddings, from a tiny "registry office style" wedding (40 people, the most "western" in style, w/ an open bar (I am aware it's traditionally a dry country, but trust me alcohol is cheap and easily accessible)) , South Indian Christian (900 people) and a traditional Hindu shebang (2500 attendees, potluck!)

    Doing that in the UK would bring down the almighty wrath of The Knot forums on our heads -but there, in another culture, it's the norm.

    I've found there's very little tolerance on this site for people who don't follow the "correct" (read, western) way.

    FYI, I'm not doing a cash bar - I'm having soft-drinks, beer, wine and a signature cocktail hosted, but if someone wants to do tequila shots that badly, then they can buy/bring their own.


    Do you not eat food then at weddings? You should maybe just get over your bizarre aversion to graciously accepting hospitality. It's rude to deny others the chance to be good hosts.
    Can you please address this with my MIL? :)
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