Do I need to inform guests it’s a cash bar only?

alcohol at weddings3

The bulk of weddings serve alcohol, and it’s often assumed it’ll be free. However part of sticking to appropriate wedding etiquette and keeping guests happy is managing expectations. So today’s post is covering what you should do if you’re having a cash bar.

Do I need to inform my guests that we are having a cash bar?

Strictly speaking, no. It’s not a requirement at all, and you can rely on word of mouth to spread the word. But it’s good form to give people fair warning so they can be prepared by bringing their wallet/enough money.

Many people use the term “cash bar” to indicate that guests will have to pay for their drinks in some way, versus the proper use of the term which is – the bar will only accept cash, no eftpos or credit cards! If this is the case for your venue , and if your venue is away from an ATM and/or you know that your guests will want to grab some spending money for later in the night, then it will be especially important to let your guests know when you invite them.

having a cash bar only

How to word on the invite that we are having a cash bar at our wedding?

If you’ve decided to pop some text in a “Further Information” section of your invite, here’s some different options you can use to communicate there’s a limit of some sort in place:

  • BYO spirits
  • Cash bar only
  • Some beer and wine will be provided
  • A set selection of beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages will be available under a bar tab. Alcoholic drinks outside of this range will be available by a cash bar.

Can we shout only certain guests drinks?

While it’s not like it’s illegal to shout some people drinks, and not others, I think this is a bad idea. I strongly recommend you have a blanket approach to how you pay for alcohol – i.e. do not have a bar tab for some guests while some other guests are paying for their drinks. We’ve attended a wedding where certain guests received a stamp to get free drinks at the bar. As the bride got drunker, more stamps got dished out (and with less discretion). As well as leaving the non-stamped guests with a sour taste in their mouth, many of those guests getting free drinks were going up and ordering for the others anyway!

Have you been to a wedding where you’ve paid for your drinks?

If you’ve been to a wedding where you’ve had to buy your own drinks, how was it managed? Were you surprised, or did it say something on the wedding invitation?

6 thoughts on “Do I need to inform guests it’s a cash bar only?

  1. Oh, a controversial topic, but a goodie! Weddings are expensive, so I can see why people would take this option. I’d definitely let people know. Good advice here.

    1. Yep I agree – it’s one of those awful parts of the budget where you can have no idea how much it’s going to cost you, so having a cash bar (or a fixed amount that you’ll pay) saves the couple some anxiety 🙂

  2. Most weddings I’ve been to have covered drinks. Some with a fixed tab which is fair enough and guests can pay once the tab ran out. Another I went to had subsidized drinks which I thought want a great idea.

    1. We had a fixed tab Sam. I forgot about that till the other night, hubby & were talking about how much alcohol we went through (2 kegs in an hour of beer!). After a fast start our guests slowed down. The bar tab run out about 10pm and being late, we said to keep it going, it only went another $300 or so after that.

  3. Very interesting to see some of the effects of some approaches. We personally went with a fixed budget and selectively top shelf for a few that didn’t drink wine and beer. Some very useful tips! Thanks!

    1. It’s a tricky topic as every set of guests is different huh 🙂 but yes little decisions can have big impacts (as you know in your line of work!)

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