Has your wedding planning experience been a constant challenge to balance your wedding budget with your list of must-haves? If you answered “yes”, you’re not alone! It can be tempting to cut back on the food and beverage at your wedding reception when you’re trying to fit everything you want within your budget, but we’re here to warn you: skimping on food and beverage in general is a bad idea, but the worst offense of this kind is the cash bar. A cash bar is a major wedding “don’t”! Few other mistakes can ruin a wedding reception faster than this etiquette no-no.
The Cash Bar: Why is it Wrong?
In many ways, your reception should model a dinner party you would host at your home, but on a much larger scale. You wouldn’t expect guests at your home to pay for their food or drinks, and expecting them to do so at your wedding reception is simply poor manners.
At least some of your guests are likely incurring travel expenses to attend your wedding, and all of your guests are expected to provide you with a wedding gift. As the host, you’re expected to show your guests hospitality and an inviting atmosphere. Asking them to pay for their drinks creates an awkward scene, particularly considering that many people carry no cash in their wallets!
Alternatives to a Cash Bar
If your current budget doesn’t allow for a hosted full bar, consider one of these alternatives as a compromise:
- Edit the Guest List
The smaller your guest list, the more you can afford to spend per guest. As difficult as it can be, cutting your guest list is the best way to control your wedding expenses.
- Offer a Limited Bar
There is nothing wrong with offering only beer and wine at your wedding reception. Guests can have an equally great time celebrating with you with beer and wine as they would with a full bar available.
Including a signature drink may also be an option, if your budget allows it. By limiting the variety of liquors offered, you’ll also limit the expense. In most cases, you’ll also spend less on mixers when you offer a signature drink instead of a full bar.
- Change the Venue
If you haven’t yet booked your reception venue, consider a venue that offers you the option of providing your own alcohol. By taking advantage of this, you’ll spend far less on the bar and you may even be able to return unopened bottles to the liquor store you work with.
- Change the Time
While the bar may be missed at an evening reception, many of your guests may not even notice the lack of alcohol at a brunch or lunchtime reception. Consider a daytime event if eliminating the bar is the only option that suits your budget. The change in menu, and the daytime rental rates at your venue may even free up the budget dollars to allow for a lovely champagne cocktail bar!
The Bottom Line
You’ll have to prioritize to win at the budget balancing act of wedding planning, but never skimp on the guest experience. Your guests are making it a priority to be present to celebrate your marriage, so make sure they feel appreciated by being a gracious host.