Photo by: Inspired By This & Braedon Flynn
Wedding Budget

Say No To Cash Bars

Cash bars at weddings are a breach of wedding etiquette, so here's how to be sure your guests are taken care of and it fit within your budget... 

Savvy couples are looking for any way to cut wedding costs – and rightfully so. Shelling out nearly $30,000 to host a party in these tough economic times may feel frivolous and wasteful. But sorry, brides and grooms; a cash bar is never an acceptable money-saving solution. Think about it this way: Would you ever charge your pals three dollars every time they grabbed another beer at your Superbowl party? People at your wedding reception are still your guests.

Advice About Cash Bars

Some couples think providing non-alcoholic beverages gratis while charging guests who wish to upgrade to an alcoholic beverage is perfectly acceptable, but here’s another analogy: Imagine serving all of your wedding guests free soup for dinner at your reception. Now imagine offering optional lobster tail, but forcing those who wish to eat lobster instead of soup to shell out $30 for their meal. Surely you can see why this shouldn’t be done. You should never offer anything that you can’t afford at a party you’re hosting – and then expect your guest to purchase it.

If a four- or five-hour open bar is not within your budget, there are plenty of less-costly alternatives that won’t offend your guests:

Ways To Save On Wedding Bar Costs

  • Offer beer, wine, and soft drinks only. We recommend also offering a sparkling option, like cava or prosecco. 
  • Offer a full bar for cocktail hour, then switch to beer and wine for dinner and dancing. 
  • Decide on one type of drink to serve – either a specialty cocktail, champagne, or one type of beer or wine. Most venues will charge significantly less to serve only one type of alcoholic beverage.
  • Choose a wedding venue that allows you to bring in your own alcohol. Believe it or not, there are plenty of venues that do not have liquor licenses and will allow couples to bring in their own. Anything unopened can be returned for a full refund after the wedding. You may need to get a little more creative with your venue with this option and choose a mansion, museum, or a facility whose main business is not generated from weddings and special events.
  • Cut back on other wedding expenses. Lose the expensive designer wedding dress and shoes, consider less costly alternatives to floral arrangements, rent a smaller car instead of a large limo, seek less expensive deejay instead of a 10-piece band. Cutting some of these expenses will free up enough of your budget to serve your guests properly. We’ve seen too many brides waltzing down the aisle in a Vera Wang gown carrying a bouquet of imported peonies with newly manicured nails – all while her guests are hitting up the ATM in the back so they can enjoy a glass of wine with dinner. 
  • Invite less people to your wedding. This is the most effective way to cut wedding costs across the board. The significant savings you’ll experience with a smaller guest list will allow you to treat those who you do invite with courtesy and respect.

Wedding Budget