Planning a Wedding with a Cash Bar: Tips for Couples & Wedding Planners

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Photo by: Bridget Cowenhoven Photography

When planning your wedding, you’ll face some tough decisions. Unless you have an unlimited budget, some expenses may need to be trimmed. One item you’ll have to consider is your plan for the bar. Having a cash bar is one way to keep your budget under control, but how do you plan a successful cash bar?

At Sterling Catering, we understand how important it is to find ways to treat your guests well without spending too much. We’re here to help you host a reception that will delight your guests while respecting your budget. Here are our tips on cash bars and how to make it work for everyone.


Cash Bar vs. Open Bar

First, what is the difference between a cash and an open bar? A cash bar is an arrangement where the guests pay for their own drinks at the reception. On the other hand, an open bar is where the hosts pick up the entire bar tab for the evening, allowing guests to indulge freely.

Obviously, opting for a cash bar can mean big savings for the happy couple, but how will your guests feel about it? There are ways to make a cash bar more hospitable and welcoming to your friends and family.

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Photo by: Kjerstin Thea Photography


Considerations and Concerns with a Cash Bar

It’s important to let people know before the big day that there will be a cash bar, so your guests arrive prepared for the evening. A note on the invitation will let them know what to expect. Make sure the information is on your wedding website, and ask friends and family to spread the word, so no one is surprised.

Be sure to speak with your caterer or venue to clarify how expensive the drinks will be. You can reduce the cost to your guests by ensuring there will be plenty of affordable options available. It’s very important to work with someone who has the experience and expertise needed to ensure that your wedding bar complies with all state laws and regulations of the venue. They should also carry sufficient insurance so everyone is protected.


Budget-Friendly Alternatives to a Cash Bar

If you’re not completely comfortable with having a cash bar, there are some ways you can meet your guests in the middle. You can provide a limited amount of drinks by offering a consumption bar. This option allows the hosts to pay for a certain number of drinks, usually restricted to a handful of affordable choices. That way, your guests are treated to drinks, but you limit how much you spend.

Another option is to provide only certain drinks, such as a signature cocktail when guests arrive, or champagne when it’s time for the toasts. If they want more drinks, they can visit the cash bar, but this way everyone feels like the hosts have taken care of them as well.

Whatever option you choose, remember that your guests are gathering to celebrate your day. Even if you can’t afford to buy every drink that evening, everyone will focus on what’s most important – the happy occasion and celebrating your love. Communicate openly with your guests to make it clear how much they all mean to you, and the bar tab will be the least important detail of the evening.

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Consider Sterling Catering for a Seamless Cash Bar Planning Process

At Sterling Catering, we’ve worked with many couples to help them celebrate their wedding in style, no matter what their budget is. We would love to help you host the wedding reception of your dreams and plan every detail, including the bar. For more information about our expert bar service and delicious menu, we invite you to contact us today!