Cash Bar? Not Cool! | St. Simons Island / Jekyll Island Wedding Planner

So you want alcohol at your wedding, but can’t afford it. This is a common problem for brides on a tight budget. Is it okay to offer a cash bar? Absolutely not! If you are unable to provide alcohol at your wedding reception, let’s come up with another option!

To put this in perspective, think about this…suppose you have been invited to a very nice dinner party. Of course you are expecting them to provide everything to eat and drink for the evening. But what if you arrived and you are met at the door by a sign that says, “Dinner and beverage $50”? I don’t know about you, but I would be caught off guard. I would be wondering why they invited me in the first place and then expected me to pay for my own meal. I might even wonder why I was even invited. It’s just not proper and I would consider it tasteless and crude.

Your wedding guests will feel the same way if they have arrived at your wedding reception and find out they have to pay for their drinks. Since they have been invited to your wedding, they don’t expect to pay their way when they arrive. In addition, most reception venues prefer not to offer a cash bar simply because they feel it is tasteless and doesn’t portray the image they are trying to project. Most wedding guests don’t even bring cash with them to weddings.

The good thing is that you do have options to consider. First of all, you may have already considered offering beer and wine only. This is an excellent alternative!

Second, you may consider serving champagne for the evening instead of mixed drinks. Champagne is much less expensive and can help out with your budget.

Third, you may be interested in offering a signature drink all evening. Some venues will offer a price per gallon rather than by the drink. Margueritas, for example, can be made with a Marguerita machine and you may be able to purchase the mix and the tequila at a discount. Just ask the venue.

Fourth, you could move your wedding time to earlier in the day and have a brunch reception. At a brunch, couples typically offer mimosas or other day time drinks…much less expensive.

And of course, you don’t have to offer alcohol at all! Tea, lemonade, and water is perfect with any meal! Remember that your guests are your friends and family.

One thing that I have found from my experience with wedding guests, is that they tend to become a bit upset if alcohol is served during a cocktail hour, but then cut off when dinner is served. I think it is better to leave the alcohol off completely than to take it away mid stream. This seems to be a big complaint from wedding guests.

Another biggie that will rile your wedding guests is to provide an open bar and then all of a sudden, change it to a cash bar. The fun usually ends here.

Unfortunately, some wedding reception venues prefer that you do not have a cut off amount at the bar. This may pose a problem for you, but you can do this as long as you give them some leeway in order to prevent the bartender from telling the next person in line that we can’t serve alcohol anymore. Not cool.

I recall a wedding that offered alcohol at their reception. A dollar limit was established for the bar ahead of time. Midway of the reception, the dollar amount was reached and the drinks stopped. Before the bride’s father was located for an approval to increase the limit, the guests were confused and a bit upset. Be sure and give the venue an approval to increase their limit, if necessary, to alleviate this problem.

Cash bar? No way. You have other choices!

Carla Pryor
St. Simons Elopements



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