It’s no secret that hosting a bar can take up a sizeable portion of your wedding budget. Choosing the right bar for your audience is essential in making sure that you aren’t wasting money or leaving your guests without drinks for the night! Looking through venue and catering packages might have you and your fiancé asking – Which bar option is right for your wedding?
We’ll walk you through what your typical wedding bar options are and help you figure out which type of bar is best for your wedding below:
A dry bar is exactly what it sounds like – no alcohol! Your guests will only have access to the non-alcoholic drinks that your venue typically serves with the meals. This usually includes water, soft drinks, coffee, and tea. If you know for a fact that your guests don’t drink at all, this is the perfect option for you.
This can be a pretty controversial option! This entails having guests pay for each of their drinks throughout the night. Weddings are expensive, so a cash bar can definitely be tempting, but traditionally it isn’t guest favorite. Although you are probably paying a tremendous amount on your wedding, your guests are also paying quite a bit to attend (attire, travel, lodging, gifts, etc.) so they may not be pleased when they’re asked to pay for drinks during the reception.
Hosting a limited bar typically means that you only serve beer and wine rather than a full range of liquors. This is a great option if you don’t want to worry about paying a tab, but also don’t want to spend the money on a full range of options. As a workaround, many venues will allow you to host an open bar with 1-2 signature cocktails. In addition to the venue’s beers and wines, your guests will also be able to order premade cocktails! You can customize these drinks to add a fun aspect of personalization to your bar. We’ve seen couples name their signature cocktails after their pets, alma maters, and favorite places. If this is something you’re interested in, ask your venue if it’s a feature you can add-on to your wedding bar package.
Hosting an open bar means that your guests can order any drink (beer, wine, or liquor) on your dime. Typically, there are three categories of open bars based on how you want to pay for them.
This is one of the most cost-effective options! If your venue offers a BYOB package, this typically means that they supply a bartending service for an open bar but allow you to bring in your own alcohol. With this option, you can purchase your alcohol wholesale ahead of the wedding, which will allow you to host an open bar without paying for the markup of each bottle. Not many venues offer BYOB packages since bar packages are so profitable, but they’re definitely worth keeping an eye out for!
Pro Tip: If you go this route, try purchasing 2-3 bottles of alcohol every time you go to the grocery store during your engagement. This will allow you to spread out the cost of buying alcohol, and by the time your wedding rolls around you should have a sizeable stockpile for the bar!
You know your guests better than anyone, so trust your gut when picking out your bar package! At the end of the day, it’s always better to overestimate your needs than to leave your guests thirsty halfway through the night.