Is It Tacky to Have a Cash Bar at Your Wedding?

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When you build your wedding budget, you’ll soon find booze takes a up a very large line. It’s enough to make any couple consider passing the buck—or the bar tab—onto their guests. But is that move merely practical, or is it way too tacky? We asked our readers to weigh in to help you decide.
It’s not tacky—because your guests aren’t there for the alcohol. Christina was worried that when she offered guests a cash bar, they’d be upset. But she soon found the opposite to be true. “I confessed my worry to a guest mid-reception and she said, ‘Christina, we came to celebrate your love—not drink for free,'” she recalls. “That made me feel so much better, and I would hope that my guests’ attitudes would be everyone’s attitudes when it comes to a cash bar.”

And here’s what our readers who can’t get behind a cash bar had to say …

It’s tacky—because it catches guests off guard. Sure, you may have made an announcement on your wedding website warning guests you’re going with a cash bar. But Lauren argues that you’ll still find a few guests taken by surprise. “It puts pressure on the guests because we don’t expect to need cash for drinks and singles for tips,” she says. “If you can’t afford a full bar, just have wine and beer.”

It’s tacky—if you wouldn’t do it any other time. Says reader Mila, “Asking your guests to pay for their own drinks is like inviting them over to a party at your house and making them rent their own chairs. It sets a negative tone, and many of your guests will skip the bar or leave early because the party vibe just isn’t there.” She suggests opting for a beer-and-wine only bar to cut costs. “Your guests’ choices are more limited,” she says, “but you’ll still have the fun vibe.”

It’s tacky—especially if your guests have traveled. You’re spending big bucks on your wedding day, but your guests are paying a price to attend, too. “All of your guests—especially the out-of-towners—have spent a lot of their time, energy and money in order to be there with you on your big day,” says Shelby. “So in my opinion, it’s incredibly rude to ask them to spend even more money on alcohol at your event.”

It’s tacky—because it’s offensive. Reader Danielle is ready to get right to the point: “I believe it is horribly offensive to offer a cash bar at your wedding,” she says. “Let’s put all the cards on the table and be honest here: People go to weddings expecting an open bar. There are countless memes supporting that as well! The bottom line is, offering a dry wedding—as in, no bar—is fine assuming it’s a religious reason, but a cash bar is tacky and I hate it.”

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