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Bottoms Up: Open Bar vs. Cash Bar At Your Wedding

While pleasing the guests is high on the list of the brides, it can be hard for the bride to decide on certain things when it comes to wedding planning. Whether it be if there is dancing or not, if there are wedding favors or none at all, or what kind of foods she wants to serve to her friends, family, and new family. But one of the things a bride can struggle with is whether not she should have an open bar or a cash bar at the reception.

If you are completely clueless and do not understand what either of these bars are, let me give you a quick run down. Like the name suggests, an open bar is open to all the guests and is included in the reception venue package when you first check out reception venues. But obviously, because it is unlimited and free to the guests, does not mean it is free for the bride! An open bar is very expensive for the couple. On the contrary, a cash bar is a bar that offers alcohol, but at a price for the guests. Some couples will have limited drinks for free, while the other types of drinks come at a price for the guests.

We have sorted through the pros and cons of each type of bar, explaining it from both sides. We hope that this well help you and your make your honey make the decision on whether to have an open bar or a cash bar at your big day!

Cash Bar


Some couples really do not want to do the cash bar, because that means charging the guests for what they drink. But if you do not want to spend an arm and a leg (it can get very expensive for an open bar), than doing a cash bar can actually be a very good idea.


1. It is a money saver. So you have to decide. Are you okay with making your guests pay for their alcoholic drinks? You can have other drinks available to them, even some starter alcoholic drinks, and then just have them pay if they want other additional drinks. It would be wise to put on the invitation that you are having a cash bar, so your guests know in advance to bring money, if you decide to do this. But if you really do want to save money, then this is your best option.

2. They won’t fill up on drinks as easily. The last thing you want is for the guests to fill up on free drinks and then not be hungry for the meal. If you have a cash bar, it will limit the people’s spending and help your guests to refrain from overindulging.


1. Your guests have to pay for something. At your wedding. It is the honest truth! You are making your guests paying for something at your wedding. Now, most guests will understand if you are truly trying to save money, and if they really care about you and your husband, then the fact that they have to pay for extra alcoholic drinks should not bother them. But if you are worried about any type of guest being upset in any type of way (which should not happen), then you need to be careful when it comes to this.


Open Bar

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Now if money is not an object for your wedding budget, then an open bar might be more of your style. Although it is more expensive, it has some great opportunities to give your guests a wonderful pre-reception (or reception) treat.


1. It is free for your guests. Your guests do not have to worry about if they have cash or not, because all of the alcohol is free. It is more laid back and the guests can possibly enjoy their time a little more than if they didn’t have to worry about the financial aspect of it.

2. More possibilities. Because they do not have to pay for it, your guests have the ability to try many different drinks and not pay for only the ones they like. If it is open, there are a lot more choices and opportunities for your guests to go back and get more than one drink.


1. It is expensive. Once again, if you are not interested in spending a lot of money or do not want to break your strict budget, than this is out of the question.

2. It is a big distraction. If your guests are so focused on the free drinks and getting all the free drinks they can, they can not only consume too much alcohol and get tipsy much quicker, but they can also miss important events during the reception, like the first dance or the father-daughter dance.



There is a choice of a limited bar. A limited bar is where it is both cash and free. You have two or three options for either beer or wine that can be available to the guests for free, and then from there offer other signature drinks for purchase. This is a happy medium for the guests and is not as costly as a completely open bar.

Whether you decide to go big or go home with the open bar, opt for the cash bar, or decide on the happy medium with the limited bar, no matter what you and your fiance decide to do, your wedding will be a blast. These are simply suggestions, so its up to you two to decide what you want in the end!

So good luck, and happy drinking (responsibly, right?).


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