Friday, July 24, 2009

Wedding Etiquette: How to Gift When there is a Cash Bar?

Someone recently asked me the appropriate amount to gift if there is a cash bar at a wedding.

My response?
Cash bars are a bit tacky in my (and Emily Post's) opinion (especially if the bride spends thousands on a designer gown - can you tell I'm jaded?) if you're having a full sit-down dinner; but not every couple can afford an open bar and they certainly shouldn't be punished for that. A wedding gift should be a token of your affection and well-wishes for the couple. Not a token of what you estimate is the value of your meal and drinks. I mean, otherwise, using that logic, does that mean the kid with the birthday party with the bouncy castle, clowns, petting zoo would always get the better present!!??

Also, I think it's important to keep in mind (me included) that cash bar can mean many things nowadays. For example, there may be wine/beer served with dinner but afterward guests are on the hook; or there may an open bar up to a certain point in the evening.

What do you think? Should a cash bar factor into the value of your gift? What about if the wedding is a brunch or a cocktail event? What's your take on cash bar? Discuss.

15 comments:

alishaneva said...

Personally ... I see no problem with a cash bar if it fits the tone of the whole wedding. Instead of worrying weather the gift should be impacted by that and how much is appropriate to spend on a gift in general, how about just buying the gift you want to give and giving it to them? If you spend more (or less) than someone else- who cares? And if you want to spend less ... shirk on your drinking allowance perhaps?

gangsta bride said...

I have to agree with you. A cash bar is really annoying. I don't want my guests to have to pay for anything at my wedding.

That being said, gifts are totally optional, and the amount you want to spend is up to you, your budget, and your relationship with that person.

Anonymous said...

I've been to both kinds of weddings and it never influenced my gift. I never knew what the wedding would be drink-wise, nor did I care. It really shouldn't affect the gift.

Sheila said...

Cash bar or not, don't be a cheap-ass.

Miss. Yap said...

I know cash bars are tacky but if the alternative is no bar at all... that is a difficult call. As far as gifts are concern, I think it should be primarily be based on your relationship to the couple. I always try to give something on their registry and something personal

honey my heart said...

we are doing open bar to make life easier (guests won't have to pay and we won't have to get a permit since our venue is owned by the city).

chicncheap said...

Yes the wedding gift should be representative of what you want to give to the couple.

But the bare minimum to give them is based off the cost for the reception. So there likely would be a lower minimum spend on a gift. I always base my gifts off this and my relationship with the couple.

I don't drink much and this has been an issue with us. But cash bars are annoying. What girl carries a lot of cash in her clutch? We are going to do a limited open bar (on a consumption basis) so that my lush friends can have their fix. It should be ok for everyone.

The Professional Bridesmaid said...

@chicncheap: Exactly! Who has room in their clutch for the cash! Question, if you don't mind me asking: will you be letting your guests it's a limited open bar (I'm assuming if they want more booze, they have to buy from the bar?)and to bring cash?

Cyn City said...

Everyone loves an open bar, but we are doing a cash bar for a few reasons. #1 - My future father in law is a baptist pastor and there will be a lot of people at the wedding from out church (we were considering closing the bar all together but didn't want to interfere with the serving staff). #2 - Our reception will be brunch (11-4 pm)so we don't think alcohol will be missed that much. #3 - open bar is expensive and my FH and I are paying for the wedding ourselves (my dress was $200 BTW)

Having a cash bar the way we are doing it doesn't seem tacky to me.

The Professional Bridesmaid said...

@Cyn City: I agree - I've only been to cash bar receptions when it's been a traditional sit down dinner. When you're sitting in your full formal gown and having plated dinner service, and you have to get up to get a drink at the bar and pay it for yourself....I personally think that this is a bit of a faux-pas. However, like you said, cash bars at certain weddings in certain circumstances definitely are not tacky. May I ask how you plan to word the 'cash bar' on the invites?

Cyn City said...

For the record if I could, I would do an open beer/wine bar but given the circumstances (it has already come up with the in-laws) we are not.

Hmmmm I haven't really thought about the wording. I think putting that on the invites WOULD be tacky. Sort of like their attendance is dependant on alcohol being served. I think I might do a tent card at the bar worded something like this...
"In keeping with our religious beliefs alcoholic beverages will not be served, although you are welcome to purchase an alcohol beverages if you like." Hey not bad...thanks for asking :)

The Professional Bridesmaid said...

@CynCity: Thanks commenting and sharing your concept. It's important for others (me included) to learn not to jump to conclusions on a cash bar. I like your wording!

A Hot Pink Petticoat said...

If you decide to do cash bar, it's probably a good idea to have people spread the word as a courtesy. If you have a wedsite which you are directing guest to, include this in the FAQ section.

Krista said...

We had a weird situation.

We had a cocktail hour with fruit punch (non-alcoholic) and champagne cocktails, plus a cash bar. Then we had lots of wine with dinner. And finally, we had free champagne cocktails and a cash bar.

And hardly anyone went for the champagne cocktails! Our reception bill was UNDER budget (but about $1000) because no one drank the free stuff. And it wasn't a "cheap champagne" either: it was a Niagara region "champagne" mimosa cocktail. Yum!

The Professional Bridesmaid said...

@ Krista - I love champers!!! Yummy. Did you tell guests you had a cash bar? How did you word it?

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