2017 Ottawa Wedding: Cash Bar vs. Open Bar

Cash Bar vs Open Bar

To have an open bar or not: that is often the question for many couples when planning their wedding day. And it can be a tough one. When it comes to the (sometimes) heated debate about how freely those beverages should flow, it can be a stressful decision to make. So before you make your decision, here are a few pros and cons for each that will help you determine which is best suited for your 2017 Ottawa wedding:

Cash Bar

What the cash bar actually entails can differ depending on your venue. Sometimes, cash bar could mean that a champagne toast is provided at dinner, or the guest must purchase any beverage – including non-alcoholic. In other cases, limited cash bars can be an option, where you provided wine and beer during the reception, and anything more must be purchased.

So it’s important to discuss all of the options that are available at your Ottawa wedding venue. But here are some of the general pros and cons.


  • Saves you money
  • Can help prevent over-indulgence from your guests
  • Can help keep your guests focused on the events and moments throughout the evening


  • Expensive for guests
  • Disgruntled guests

So this really comes down to the factors of your budget and of course, how your guests may feel for having to fork out money for each expensive drink, especially for those who may have spent money on an expensive flight just to be there.

Open Bar

Open bars tend to be more common during the big day. Sometimes it may entail both the cocktail hour and the reception, and other times it may just include the reception.


  • No need for guests to worry about carrying cash
  • Guests don’t have to necessarily wait on the staff – can get their own drinks
  • More enjoyable and easier for guests


  • More expensive – could take up a significant portion of your budget
  • Might need to sacrifice other items from your budget
  • Over-indulgence from guests

Deciphering whether a cash bar or open bar makes more practical sense for your wedding day really comes down to some essential factors. Those factors must encompass primarily, your budget – can you afford an open bar – as well as how much you feel it may affect the “merriment” of your guests and the evening.

So in order to determine which may suit your day best, first talk to your venue providers to determine what all of the options are that are available to you. From there, you can factor in your budget and determine what makes the most sense for your wedding dinner and reception.  

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