Forget “To be or not to be.” The ultimate question is whether you should have a cash bar or open bar at your wedding. It seems like such a simple decision, but if you have done any wedding planning research, you have probably come across loads of couples asking this very question. Not to mention family and friends asking about it. So what is the right answer? Is it more acceptable to have an open bar? The hard and fast truth is that open bars will always get extra points with the guests, but it’s completely up to you, what works with your budget, and what you feel is right for your wedding. If you are still on the fence about the subject, keep reading. Knowing what each bar entails and the pros and cons can help you make the best decision.
What is a cash bar?
If you choose to have a cash bar, your guests will be expected to pay for all of their drinks, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic.
Most budget-friendly option, as you will not have to pay for everyone’s drinks in advance (unless you do a champagne toast during the cake cutting or dinner)
Guests are less likely to overindulge because they will be shelling out their own cash (which they may have brought a limited amount of or just do not want to spend extra on drinks)
Guests may not stick around too long after the reception starts
Guests who do not bring cash with them might feel cheated
A cash bar is the way to go if you are on a tight budget, but expect a few hard feelings. If you choose to have a cash bar, let people know in advance so they can bring extra money with them. You might also want to think about offering a couple bottles of wine at each table to supplement the cash bar and give the feeling that your guests are getting something out of it.
What is an open bar?
An open bar means the host (that’s you) will pay for all alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks.
Easy for guests, as they will not have to carry extra cash or keep a tab
Guests can get their own drinks instead of having to wait for a server
Budget buster alert! Open bars have a reputation for being expensive.
More chance of overindulgence
Most people will tell you that open bars are the polite thing to do and will get a big thumbs up from guests who already feel like they’ve invested enough in your wedding (outfit, gift, etc.). Even the famed David Tutera frowns on cash bars and recommends an open bar or at the very least, a limited bar.
What is a limited bar?
A limited bar can be open or cash based and offers a limited supply of drinks. For example:
Option 1: An open bar with beer and wine only
Option 2: Unlimited beer and wine and one signature drink - cash bar for everything else
Option 3: Open bar for a certain amount of time, then cash bar for remainder of reception
Provides a happy medium, as guests are generally happy with beer/wine and you don’t break the budget
As you can see, a limited bar is the mix and match option and allows you to put together a bar that works for you and the guests. If you are tight on cash, but still want to offer your guests some free-flowing drinks, this is the best option.
In the end, it is you and your fiance’s decision, regardless of how family and friends feel. Yes, it is important to keep them in mind, but the bigger concern is what makes you happy and what your budget can afford. Think about the people you are inviting - are they big drinkers? What about the venue? Is it conducive to an open bar? Do not stress too much about it though. Many couples will tell you that no matter what kind of bar they had, the guests still had fun. The alcohol is a fun extra, but it should not be the priority.
What kind of bar are you leaning toward for your wedding or have you been to a wedding with a cash/open bar? What were your thoughts? Let us know your opinions, ideas, and stories in the comments!