Why You Shouldn't Have a Cash Bar at Your Wedding

A definitive list of reasons why choosing a cash bar isn't such a great idea.

Why You Shouldn't Have a Cash Bar at Your Wedding

Photo: Liquidlightimages Photography

Wedding etiquette can be a tricky concept to navigate – especially if you haven’t attended one for some time. Trends and fads change, and many are left wondering if something is truly “gauche” or if it’s become more commonplace in modern times. Though some traditions have been all but dissolved, some still hold a hard-and-fast place in nuptial protocol; one such custom is the idea of an open bar. 

Of course, one’s biggest argument against this aspect is pricing; it can get expensive to host free beverages for all of your guests. Some forgo the bar entirely because of religious reasons; others decide that their friends and family would not handle themselves properly should they be given unlimited access to bottomless booze. There are some exceptions; however, if you’re including a bar and leaning toward asking attendees to pay cash for drinks at your celebration, here is a big reason why you should rethink your position. 

Your reception is, in many ways, a gift to friends and family for attending your ceremony. At its core, it’s a party thrown by the couple to celebrate their love – both of their new spouse and of their strong and unwavering support system. Many believe that a cash bar isn’t unlike asking pals to come to your new home for a house-warming fête, and then subsequently charging them for their Champagne – note: a “BYOB” analogy won’t work in this case, as a wedding is a formal event. Etiquette would say – no matter how common the practice may be in your area – that you’re not properly hosting your revelers if you ask them to pay during any part of your reception. Consider this: even if it is more or less run-of-the-mill in your town, wouldn't serving up free drinks rank you amongst the more thoughtful and generous?

If you’re struggling with the monetary aspect of it, then scaling back on other wedding accoutrements or selecting an alternative drink option is not a bad idea. You could consider serving up a “limited” bar of soft drinks, beer, and wine, which cut costs more than you may think. Believe it or not, providing guests with a personalized signature drink will also help your budget, as the kinds of hard liquor purchased will be finite, and you can choose less expensive types and brands. Your venue coordinator should have all of their specified options available to you upon your first meeting: ask them to let you know exactly what they offer in terms of bar service so that you’re always in the loop.

Some groups drink more than others; some don’t drink at all. There will likely be different kinds of consumers on your guest list, and the smartest – and most proper – route to take would be accounting for the happiness of your friends and family. People are purchasing gifts, getting all dressed up, and making their way to your location because they genuinely want to be a part of your day: don’t punish them by sticking them with a bill at the end of the night. Your nearest and dearest deserve the best!

Get inspired with 17 ways to decorate your wedding bar, ideas for your reception's drink stations, and find out why signature cocktails are so popular!

Opening photo by LiquidLightImages Photography