Money & Career

Wedding on a budget: Would you choose cash or open bar?

Cash bars are just one of those wedding issues that really divides people. I personally am not a big fan of cash bars at weddings — after all, if you were hosting a dinner party, would you make people pay for their drinks in your own home?

bride and groom, cheers and group of champagne flutes

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Dear Caroline, I’m getting married next month and we’re on a tight budget. Would having a cash bar be tacky?

Thanks,
Tamara from Winnipeg

A: Cash bars are just one of those wedding issues that really divides people. I personally am not a big fan of cash bars at weddings — after all, if you were hosting a dinner party, would you make people pay for their drinks in your own home?

You definitely don’t have to have an “open bar,” where people can order any drinks they want. Instead, opt for wine and beer (and a signature cocktail if you want). Going that route lets you make wine and beer selections that fit your budget. In some cases, depending on where you’re getting hitched, you can go out and buy your own beer and wine to serve (even cheaper). At my wedding, we sourced a small local winery in Ontario we liked and asked the venue to bring in those wines — it cut our costs and allowed us to serve something that was special to us. We also ditched the champagne in favour of a sparkling wine from the same winery, which was delicious and cheaper than the Veuve.

If you’re still struggling, then think about other ways to lower your wedding costs, including nixing the DJ in favour of your iPod, doing your own flowers or holding a buffet or cocktail reception instead of a full sit down dinner. Here’s a list of more ways you can cut your wedding costs down further.

Quick poll: Would you be offended by a cash bar at a wedding? Do you think it’s tacky? Please share your comments below!