POSTED ON

January 31, 2022

Is It Proper Wedding Etiquette To Host A Cash Bar?

disclaimer: Occasionally we do share a paid affiliate link, receive a free product in exchange for our review, or accept paid advertising for a post. We also have thriving planner and venue partnership programs, which we love to promote here.  Please know that we only share things, people, and places we absolutely believe in and recommend.

With so many things to consider (and so many friends and family members likely sharing their opinions and wishes), one of the trickiest aspects of planning your reception is the bar. What will be served? Will it be an open bar? Should we host a cash bar? One of the questions wedding planners get asked the most: Is it proper wedding etiquette to host a cash bar at your reception? Today on the blog, the Chancey Charm team is weighing in and sharing wedding planning advice to help make this decision easier. Enjoy, friends!

 

– The Chancey Charm Team

Photography: Courtney Leigh, Design: Skylar Caitlin of Chancey Charm Houston

Is it proper wedding etiquette to host a cash bar at your reception?

“I don’t want to say it’s tacky (that’s a bit harsh), but it definitely isn’t ideal. There are a lot of reasons a bride and groom may opt for a cash bar, and their guests will probably understand those reasons. If you can afford it, absolutely offer your guests either a full or limited bar, but please don’t do a cash bar. It’s expected that the bar will be provided. If the alcohol is not provided for guests, it is the responsibility of the bride and groom to inform their guests. That way they can come prepared mentally and financially.”

 “Your guests are traveling and celebrating you. They have shelled out gifts, travel expenses, and something to wear. You should at least host beer, wine and soft drinks. Hard alcohol can be on a cash basis. At the very least, host a portion of the evening, maybe the first hour. If you do decide to host a cash bar, make that clear to your guests so they know to bring cash or their credit card. Post this on your wedding website or spread the word verbally. Also, many off the beaten path venues don’t take credit cards or don’t have an ATM close by! Keep that in mind when booking – ask those questions! Guests would be very upset if they couldn’t get anything to drink because they were not informed!”

“I strongly discourage clients from considering a cash bar. It creates an awkward experience for all involved: the host is perceived as being cheap (whether that’s true or not is irrelevant), guests may not have cash on hand, and it slows down the flow of service at the bar. As an alternative, consider options that make your guests feel spoiled without breaking the bank by either reconsidering your guest count, providing a limited selection or only beer and wine, or closing the bar a little early before the reception ends! If budgeting alcohol is not a priority without a cash bar, my suggestion would be to not serve alcohol at all.”

 

SNAG OUR FREE WEDDING CHECKLIST

“For those out of town guests that have traveled far and spent money on travel, hotels, food prior to the reception meal AND your wedding gift, providing a couple of drinks is a good option! You don’t have to splurge on the local brewery for your big night, but a simple Bud Light or Yuengling goes a long way! You don’t have to splurge and provide unlimited drinks per person either. You can consider providing a ‘drink ticket’ for one of your signature drinks that can be swapped for a beer or house wine and have the rest be a cash bar!”

“Your guests are already spending a decent amount to attend your wedding between travel, a gift, nice attire, finding a babysitter if they have kids, etc. They expect in return, other than seeing your beautiful commitment to one another, a nice meal and an open bar. Asking them to also pay for their own drinks, especially if they are expensive, may make them feel put off about your day. Plus, when couples do have a cash bar, the party often ends early because guests are worried about overspending at the bar. An open bar or a limited bar (if you are trying to save money) is easier for your guests and more appreciated. An open bar allows guests to get a drink whenever they please versus waiting for a server to wait on them or to settle up at the bar. By having an open bar, your guests feel just that – that they ARE your guest and you appreciate their presence by hosting them for an evening.”

 

Loved this post? Pin it for later!

The Chancey Charm team is weighing in on whether it is proper wedding etiquette to host a cash bar at a wedding reception.

Looking for even more planning insight? Check out my Wedding Planning Bundle + Community Pass. It’s the ultimate step-by-step guide for creating the wedding of your dreams.

4 Comments

  • I couldn’t agree more! I am in a wedding g later this month and was just informed it is a cash bar, and not to sound like a brat I was very put off by that. The dresses were almost $400, it is out of state so we all need to get hotels and it is on a Friday so everyone needs to take off work. I just feel like beer and wine should always be provided, especially when asking guests to travel to your wedding.

  • I also agree cash bars are tacky. I could see just beer and wine – and maybe a limited open period – but not a full cash bar.
    The worst we ever saw was when the bride was a manager at the restaurant, and they held their wedding at that restaurant – with a cash bar!

  • I had a cash bar at my wedding in 1991, as my husband’s family were all hard core drinkers. In Florida at that time, hosting an open bar put the legal responsibility on the host couple if someone drove home drunk and caused an accident. Having a cash bar put the responsibility on the venue. Very important distinction since the happy couple and their guests are mingling and may not notice someone getting drunk, whereas the bartenders and/or wait staff are aware of which guests are drinking heavily, and can cut them off, if needed. Not sure if those laws still apply, but worth looking into.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

* Checkbox GDPR is required

*

I agree

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Welcome to

Chancey Charm

Behind this blog is a team of experienced wedding planners, in destination wedding locations across the country. With over 200 published weddings and editorials under our brand, we’ve served 750+ happy couples since 2011. We’ve been named a top planner by Southern Living Magazine and featured on Martha Stewart. This is our place to trusted planning advice with YOU, so you can plan without the stress.  Our founder, Sarah Chancey, also has a heart for educating new planners, so you’ll be sure to see some of her content here as well.  Cheers!

search the site

SUBSCRIBE

Save yourself the stress and plan with our expert advice. Plus snag our free professional wedding planning checklist when you join.

featured posts

post categories