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Are Donation Bars at Weddings Tacky?

Ask a Savvy Bride: Is It Tacky to Have a Donation Bar?

Wedding planning is stressful — especially when you're striving to produce a giant day on a small budget. imweddin posed this question in our Ask Savvy group. If you need help preventing a bridal blunder, ask the Savvy Bride.

Dear Savvy Bride,

My fiancé and I are planning our wedding, and have been feeling very torn about what kind of bar to offer our guests. We will have between 120 to 160 guests, and our friends and family aren't the type to shy away from having a few cocktails. I want everyone to have a great time, and hope we will party into the night. That said, we can't afford an open bar. A friend suggested a donation bar. He has been to a number of weddings with a donation bar — there's a jar where people can make a donation if they wish (say throw $30 in at the beginning of the night and maybe throw tips in for the bartenders) but technically the bar is open. This seems like a good middle-ground solution to my problem, and would really help cover costs, but is this tacky?

Any advice would be appreciated!

Thank you!

To see the Savvy Bride's advice,


Savvy Bride says:

Having an open bar at a wedding definitely comes with a hefty price tag. The majority of SavvySugar readers think having a cash bar is tacky, but if a donation or cash bar are the only affordable options for you, so be it! It sounds like have a fun vision for your big day and there's no doubt guests will fork over a donation for drinks if they are asked to. Another option you might want to consider is bringing in all your own alcohol to the venue, if you can, and skipping out on bartenders all together. Letting people pour their own beverages, those you can hopefully buy in bulk, would be a big money saver.


At the end of the day, you and your fiancé are entitled to make whatever decisions you'd like for your big day. If you do set up a donation bar, make sure you have an agreement with the bartenders so they don't expect to take home the whole pot. Everyone will have an opinion, but it boils down to what you have to do. If it's having a donation bar, by all means have one — it's your day!

Ask anything budget-, etiquette-, or planning-related — well, almost anything — by posting your questions in the Ask Savvy group, and I'll find the right expert to help you out. If you are planning a wedding, already happily wed, or still looking for Mr. Right, start sharing your big day with our community. Don’t forget to check the wedding content box on your post.

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