Wedding Favors

Cash Bar? Don’t Do It!

Posted on December 2nd, 2008 by Kori Ellis in Wedding Drinks 8 Comments

It’s always a question whether the couple should have a cash or open bar. With the rising costs of planning a wedding, many consider having a cash bar where the wedding guests pay for their own drinks. I’m here to say – DON’T DO IT.

A cash bar at a wedding is ultimately tacky. It’s not a BYOB backyard barbecue. So please, don’t ask your guests to pay for their drinks. They are just that … guests, and should be treated with a delicious meal and beverages.

However, just because you are paying for the drinks doesn’t mean the costs have to get out of hand. There are a variety of ways you can cut back.

Wine and beer

Open Bar

If you opt to have a completely open bar, that means your guests will be able to order whatever they want and you’ll pick up the entire bar tab. Though it sounds expensive, you can reduce costs by creating a limited bar instead. The easiest way to do this is to stock only house liquors instead of premium brands. Also, have a limited number of domestic beers and wines only. Work with your caterer to find tasty options that aren’t overly expensive.

Signature Cocktails

One of the hottest trends at wedding receptions is the signature cocktail. With the signature cocktail, you select one or two drinks (oftentimes his and her favorites) and serve ONLY those cocktails at the reception. Though this sounds very trendy and hip – it’s also a great way to cut down on bar costs. You can select favorite drinks of the bride and groom or stick to more traditional options such as Screwdrivers, Margaritas or Daiquiris. Another idea is to pick a themed drink. For example, at a beach wedding you might serve Blue Hawaiians. For a city wedding, you may choose Cosmopolitans.

The key to saving money is to communicate with your reception site or caterer. Perhaps the site will allow you to bring in liquor from outside. If that’s the case, you can work with local liquor markets or wholesalers in the area to try to find a deal. When they find out you are getting married, they might give you a newlywed special.

Don’t be pressured into the completely open bar with unlimited premium liquor and champagne flowing all night. Your wedding day shouldn’t put you into debt. On the other hand, if you are really short of money, don’t give in and have a cash bar. Instead find other ways to cut back, such as reducing the guest list, eliminating the seafood from your menu or having a dessert-only reception. There are plenty of ways you can save.

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Comments (8)

  1. Hey!

    You are totally right. I DJ a lot of weddings and I every time I see them making their guests pay for drinks, I think the EXACT same thing. Just tacky!


  2. 2Anne

    Cash bars are such a touchy topic among families. Thanks for taking a stand. The guests are there to celebrate you, so treat them well.

  3. 3Anne

    You are so right. A cash bar is a definite no. You want your guests to remember your wedding in a fond way!

  4. 4CJ

    OH! What an awesome idea, limiting the open bar and specializing it with signature drinks! I wish I’d thought of that when my niece got married recently. Thanks for this great idea!

  5. 5StephanieInCA

    One note of caution on the limited bar idea: You can still look cheap if all you offer is Miller Lite and Sutter Home white zin. Just saying.

  6. 6Fotografo Matrimoni

    Never, never make your guest pay for drinks is unpolite not only tacky!!!!

  7. 7Favor Bonanza

    Cash bar is extremely tacky. Your guests have taken the day to celebrate with you, when they could have been doing other things. They dressed up. They probably attended the church or ceremony.They also brought a gift – and probably not a cheap one (because THEY didn’t want to look tacky.) Show them the respect and appreciation of an open bar. It’s definitely worth it.

  8. 8Frank Auer

    Cash bar = horror!

    We did two signature drinks, a Martini and a Vodka Tonic. It is a nice way to tie the bar back to the bride and groom as those were our favorite drinks.

    Signature drinks can also calm any concern people may have over other people misbehaving due to too much drinking. We had a family member who got us into his club for the reception and was concerned about people drinking too much, the signature drink I guess “classed it up” for him and lessened that concern.

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