There are many ways in which wedding etiquette has evolved to meet the needs of the modern bride, but this is not one of them. You can’t expect someone to come to the shower bearing gifts if you haven’t invited her to the wedding; it can make you appear greedy. The shower is a tradition meant to include women closest to the bride, her mother, and the groom’s mother. If you want these women to attend your bridal shower, then they should all be included on your guest list.
There is no wedding etiquette rule that says the bride’s attendants must be female. Your maid (or man) of honor should be the person you trust most with this very important role. Remember Carrie as Stanford’s best man in Sex and The City 2? She looked fabulous in a tux. This doesn’t mean your man of honor should have to wear a bridesmaid dress, but have a little fun with it. You’ll be glad to have your best friend standing next to you on this very important occasion. In the end, that’s all that matters.
While it is often necessary to find a way to cut wedding costs, we would not recommend a cash bar. Sure, when your friends come by for dinner, they often bring a bottle of wine, but your formal wedding celebration is a different story. Consider a limited bar of just beer and wine, or begin with a full bar that becomes exclusively wine and beer later in the night. Finding a way to purchase the alcohol yourself, possibly at a wholesale price, will dramatically cut costs.