Are you wondering if an open bar at a wedding is worth it? Should you have an open bar at your wedding, a cash bar, or drink tickets instead? Let’s discuss it.
Open Bar at Wedding: PROS and CONS
Today we’re going to tackle this question that adds a lot to your budget, but also makes the reception easy. Let’s talk about whether you should have an open bar at a wedding and the pros and cons that come along with it.
One of the questions your caterer/reception venue will ask when providing you with a quote is whether you want an open bar or cash bar.
What is the difference between an open bar at a wedding vs. a cash bar? That’s simple: an open bar is pre-paid for by guests, while a cash bar requires guests to pay for each drink upon ordering one.
Some couples like the idea of a cash bar because it saves money. You’re essentially pre-purchasing drinks on behalf of your guests with an open bar package, which can quickly add up in overall costs. Other couples like a cash bar because it limits the amount of alcohol consumed, which is good if you’re worried some guests will take advantage of an open bar.
However, I like to think that planning a wedding is akin to planning a huge party. If you would offer drinks of all kinds at your own party, and give guests the freedom to pick anything they’d like without billing them for it, I don’t think it should be much different at a wedding. NOTE: You don’t need to necessarily cover “top tier” drinks; simple soft drinks, beer, and wine are all you really need. It is nice to offer drinks to guests and, most of the time, you don’t have to worry about guests taking advantage or overserving themselves.
When couples cannot afford to do an open bar, I think the next best thing is to offer drink tickets. It’s a great in-between option (vs a cash bar). In this way, you’re paying for a drink or two per guest ahead of time; if they wish to consume more, they pay cash.
You can get drink tickets like these from here and place them at guests’ seats. The tickets are then given in exchange for drinks at the bar.
• Guests don’t have to pay for each drink
• No line up at the bar, where bartenders have to check out each guest individually
• More merriment = guests will stay longer at the reception
• It can be expensive
• Some guests may overdrink
The convenience that comes with an open bar is a great one, giving your guests the ability to order as many or as few drinks as they’d like. It makes for a carefree evening, where guests can enjoy any kind of beverages they wish to consume without having to reach for their wallets each time. Therefore, I recommend an open bar whenever you can do it: it’s easiest for guests! And after all, you’re only there for a handful of hours; if you can fit it into your budget, it’s easier all the way around. Guests will truly appreciate the thought.
PRO TIP: Tipping is extra! Guests will most likely be tipping on each drink, regardless of the open bar vs. cash bar. You do not need to cover the tip (but in some cases, the couple can decide to also offer a hefty gratuity so guests aren’t expected to tip.)
So, to recap:
A cash bar is where guests are expected to pay for drinks.
An open bar at a wedding means guests can order any drinks they wish and the charge is covered by the couple getting married.
Some venues offer the option for you to cover a drink or two per couple, redeemable with a drink ticket when they wish to use it. This is a good option if you’d like to cut down on alcohol costs, consumption, and not solely give guests the responsibility of buying their own beverages.
And one last option: signature cocktail.
Some couples opt for a signature cocktail they pay for, and all other drinks are paid for by guests. This works for some, but not everyone; it’s 100% up to you!
Which one is best? Should you do an open bar at your wedding?
The decision to have an open bar is yours alone. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but the open bar seems to be the favorite amongst couples and their guests. I joke a bit when I say you really have to do an open bar, but your wedding won’t be wrecked without one. An open bar at a wedding is wonderful for its convenience and the nicety of offering anything guests wish to enjoy, without a bill. After all, they are guests at your wedding.
So, what do YOU think? Are you having an open bar at your wedding? Why or why not? Tell us in the comment box below!
I hope it helps!