Wedding Cash Bar Etiquette

by Claire Valenty on January 27, 2011

in Wedding Etiquette

wedding cash bar etiquette

As much as all of your guests would love it, sometimes, it just is not possible to fit an open bar at your reception into your wedding budget.  When that happens, and you are going to be asking your guests to pay for their own drinks, that is what is known as a cash bar.

While your guests should never expect an open bar, they will all hope for one!  And, if you think about it, asking your guests to pay for their entertainment and food at your wedding would be ridiculous.  Why would you presume they should pay for their drinks?

However, if you absolutely must have a cash or no-host bar, to make sure your guests know what to expect (and that they need to bring cash for a good time), you need to communicate the cash bar set up to them.  Doing so on your invitation definitely looks tacky, no matter how you phrase it.  The best way to spread the news is via word of mouth.  The disappointment will be quickly relayed far and wide.  Let’s not kid ourselves – weddings are the biggest parties in most peoples’ lives (after we have finished with prom – and there is definitely alcohol there, too – they are the best parties to look forward to).

All of this worry can be eliminated and you can still follow the best etiquette of not asking your guests to pay for their drinks by:

  • Hosting limited options at the bar (just beer, wine and soft drinks)
  • Hosting an open bar for the first two hours of the reception
  • Choosing a venue that will let you provide your own beverages
  • Reworking your budget and shaving some money off the favors and sending some towards the bar (trust me: your drinks will be remembered for way longer than your favors)
  • Having a “dry” wedding.  If you and your fiancé do not drink, as well as the majority of your friends/family and/or there are people attending your wedding you think might get out of control with their drinking, you can also opt to not serve any alcohol at all!

Photo: dreamstime/Stratum

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