Questions around the planning stage of a wedding are endless, generally one or a few of which relate to liquor, the liquid party. If you’re having trouble deciding on having a host (open) bar wedding or not, we broke down the pros and cons, backed by average prices at ARRAS. Learn the different variations of open bar service, tips on how to save money, and much more.
CONSIDER THE CROWD
First, to get a better idea of what your liquor costs may look like, consider the following to help determine the amount of alcohol that will best suit your celebration:
Determine a drink schedule
Do you plan to host a cocktail hour after the ceremony?
Serving drinks at dinner as well? Or reception only?
How large is your guest list?
Who will be attending? Consider kids and the elderly.
Are your guests on the rowdy or conservative side?
HOST vs CASH BAR
Once you have a clearer vision of the alcohol requirements, it’s time to consider bar service options.
In a nutshell, providing a host bar wedding will allow your guests to get as many drinks as they like, at no cost to them. This is not only advantageous for the guests, but also for the overall flow of the event. Paying for drinks is timely, and since the bar tends to be a popular place, having to pay as you go can make for longer lines, and consequently less enjoyment. The host covers the cost of the alcohol, the bartending services, as well as gratuities, providing the most ideal and fun experience for guests.
For a standard open bar, which at our venue includes bottomless well-liquor, house wine, and beers, you can estimate spending around $55 per person.
Add-ons such as a welcome drink, signature cocktail, and dinner wine service can be included for an additional charge.
Cash bars operate like any standard bar; guests order, pay, and tip for their own drinks. If you are planning a wedding on a budget, this is definitely the cheapest route. It can also make sense to have a cash bar if your crowd or event is more conservative and more of a gathering than a party. On the flip side of this, to control guests who overindulge, a limited or ticketed cash bar can be the perfect in-between!
For ticket bars, the hosts can opt to cover a certain amount of total alcohol sales, distributing tickets to guests, who are able to a select drink with the value of their ticket ($8). This leaves guests responsible for purchasing any additional alcohol for themselves.
Possible combinations are endless, such as hosting an open bar for a portion of the event, then transitioning into a cash bar later in the evening or only serving wine during dinner. This would not only cut down on costs for the host but would also be more appropriate for couples who aren’t looking for a rowdy reception.
Wedding Spot Blog. (June 22, 2021). Open Bar Wedding Guide: Everything to Know. Retrieved from https://www.wedding-spot.com/blog/open-bar-wedding