Q: We’re trying to keep the budget down with a cash bar. How do we communicate this to guests without seeming cheap? Or is there an option somewhere in between a cash bar and open bar?

A: First of all, don’t fret—cash bars are common, says Eron Jaskow, owner of Encore Events. “They’re typically more common in halls or at farm weddings, where you can supply your own bar and alcohol at a fraction of the cost of a bar at a hotel or golf course.” Jaskow adds, “Just be sure to let your guests know that’s what’s happening. That way you remove the elephant in the room.” If you’d prefer to host a portion of the bar, try a smaller offering. “Provide a few select drinks like beer, wine and ciders,” Jaskow says. “Or, if you want to have a signature drink, have it premixed with minimal garnish for quick and easy dispensing.” Other options include offering drinks by donation, having a toonie bar or reduced-price drinks, or providing a complimentary cocktail hour or dinner wine. And if those compromises aren’t doable, simply advising of the cash bar on the invite is acceptable. “However, you may also wish to suggest gifts and cards are not required,” Jaskow says. “Guests will be less likely to complain when they understand you do not wish for anything in return but their presence at your celebration.”


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