Open Bar vs. Cash Bar
A Question of Budget
Cash Bar or open barthat is the question! Probably no rule of etiquette gets so much flack from brides and grooms then the cash bar.
In the world of wedding etiquette there is no faux pas greater then the cash bar. You wouldn't invite guests to dinner and expect them to supply their own alcohol now would you? Basically if you decide to have a cash bar at your wedding you can expect to offend some guests and hear mutterings of "cheap" for months afterward. Asking guests to pay for their alcohol is openly admitting that you can't afford an open bar. However, it is the new millennium and etiquette of all types is often thrown to the wind.
Here's the run-down of bars seen at modern-day wedding receptions:
Open bars have all the works similar to that of a normal bar or nightclub. Open bars feature a wide variety of hard liquors, beers and soft drinks. All paid for by you.
Cash bars charge each guest for their individual drinks. It's often shunned because asking guests to pay for anything at your wedding reception is in bad taste, however a cash bar will save you money and you will have less drunken guests as a result.
Limited bars limit what alcohol is served - usually just wine and alcoholic punch.
Combination bars grant wedding guests a limited amount of drink tickets and expect them to foot the bill for the rest. For example, some couples will send each guest 2 drink tickets inside their invitation or supply free drinks only up until dinner is served. Afterwards guests are expected to pay for their own drinks. This often leads to less drinking and driving.
Do-it-yourself bars are money savers, and guests still get their drinks for free. Basic liquor is purchased from a wholesaler - with vodka, gin, rum, bourbon and scotch, a basic red wine and white wine, one or two brands of popular beers - along with a few popular mixes - orange juice, cranberry juice, coke, ginger ale and tonic. Keep in mind that most liquor stores will take back unopened sealed bottles as returns, so it is better to have too much liquor then not enough. Do-it-yourself bars will also require a bartender, bar towels, ice bins, glasses, lemons and limes, swizzle sticks and cocktail napkins. You will also require consent from your reception venue to supply your own liquor.
Note: Regardless of which way you are serving alcohol to your guests some States will let you purchase insurance from the store you are buying your liquor from. This is very important as it protects you from any liability of drinking and driving or even any accidents like falls. It is a very low cost insurance, generally under $100, and it is worth every penny.