How Much Is An Open Bar At A Wedding?

How much does it cost to throw a wedding party? How much should you spend on a wedding venue? What kind of food should you serve?

How Much Is An Open Bar At A Wedding?

How much should you pay your caterer? These questions and more can get overwhelming if you don’t know where to start.

A wedding is a very special event in every couple’s life. The wedding budget is usually the biggest expense for couples who want to plan their big day, and most of this can often go on things like food, a DJ, sorting out an open bar. 

If you have never been part of the wedding planning before, then you may wonder how much money is actually needed to fit all these different aspects into a successful wedding.

We’re here today to give you some information on how much this can cost and what to prepare for.

What Actually Is An Open Bar?

An open bar is when guests are given free drinks throughout the night.

An open bar is often something that a venue, or a guest, will offer as a gift to guests, but it is also very common for the main expense of the wedding reception to be an open bar, so don’t be surprised if this ends up falling to you.

One thing worth noting is that if there is an open bar, then you can expect people to be getting drunk.

Many people take an open bar as an excuse to drink a lot – so always be sure to keep an eye on this, although much of the venue staff will already be aware of this disadvantage.

How Much Can An Open Bar Cost?

An open bar’s cost will ultimately depend on two things: what sort of drinks you are serving, and how many people there are at a wedding.

Let’s be clear, an open bar that is ‘dry’, that has no alcohol and simply serves soft drinks etc., is always going to be a fraction of the price than an open bar that serves alcohol. Alcohol is always going to cost a lot more than these soft drinks will.

Obviously, if you are serving fine champagne, 12 year whiskey, Rioja, and Gray Goose, you better believe it will be expensive.

Let’s remember you are paying for this, and any guest will likely already be pretty grateful for the free drinks anyway so won’t expect the red carpet – that should be reserved for the bride and groom.

One important thing to note is where you get an open bar. You can either pay a venue to supply an open bar, or you can ask the caterer to provide it. In both situations a quote will likely be given based on heads. 

These faculties will decide how much alcohol will be drank per person and then figure out a price per head, this number will simply be scaled up depending on how many people are attending the wedding

There are some other things you should factor into the cost also: renting dining ware, ice, insurance, and importantly staff.

One thing that makes it into every wedding speech is a thanks for the staff who worked their wedding.

This is often paid fiscally through a 20% gratuity charge that will be added on top of your pre-existing bill. Although, many people will still tip, so leave a tip jar which could help with the payments. 

Why Choose An Open Bar?

How Much Is An Open Bar At A Wedding?

One reason open bars are great is because it takes a lot of effort and stress away from your best, or in other words it can act as an equalizer.

There’s no one who can’t come because they don’t have the money, etc, everyone is subject to the same bar that is free so it’s a great way for lots of your guests to mingle at once.

Moreover, your guests don’t have to worry about paying, it’s a celebration and they should be able to drink as much as they wish to without fearing for their wallets.

It also helps everyone feel welcome and that they aren’t intruding or attending some event – this is a celebration not an event.

Also, one advantage of an open bar is that, if you make it clear to people this is what you are offering, your guests may be more inclined to provide a cash gift to help with the costs.

Or people may buy more expensive presents etc as a sort of pay back for you paying for the bar. 

No one wants to be the person closing a bar tab at the end of the night, figuring out who owes what – this will only lead to more arguments that you want to avoid.

The main downsides to open bars are, of course, paying for it, and also that people may abuse it by getting too drunk.

If anyone makes a fool of themselves this will a) take the attention away from the happy couple and b) may offer to help pay if they make a bit of a fool of themselves.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been to weddings where there was an open bar, and I’ve been to ones where there wasn’t. I’d say that most people prefer the latter but it really depends on the type of wedding you’re going to.

An open bar is always going to cost a lot of money, because you are buying drinks for everyone who attends.

So, if you’re having a very small wedding (less than 50 people), then maybe consider just asking the caterers to provide a complimentary bottle of wine or a glass of champagne.

But, if you’re having 100+ people, then an open bar may be an unavoidable pleasure for your guests to indulge in.

The annoying thing is that many people often expect there to be an open bar at a wedding, if you can get someone else to pay for this then great.

But ultimately having an open bar will help everyone be merry and will keep people around for longer.

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