Catering to Your Guests; Alcohol and Your Wedding

Like brides and grooms, weddings and alcohol go hand-in-hand, and for any soon to be newlywed couple the decision to serve alcohol will be obvious, but what may not be obvious is how much it will cost and who will pay for it. Fortunately for those among us who want to make alcohol available at our weddings we have three great, but very different options to consider: open bar, limited bar and cash bar. This article will give a brief overview of these three bar styles, and hopefully help you decide which is right for you!
The first and most expensive way to serve alcohol at a wedding is in an open bar format.  Open bar weddings allow guests to consume as much alcohol as they’d like, and pass the tab on to the bride and groom. This type of wedding offers maximum benefit to the wedding guests, but for those of us on a budget, the thought of guests drinking to their hearts content on our tab, is enough to make our head spin.
Here are a few cost affecting things to keep in mind when considering whether or not to offer an open bar at your wedding.

 

The number of guests in attendance at your wedding will be the biggest cost factor for an open bar so be sure to mail your invitations far enough in advanced to get the most accurate attendance numbers.
Take into consideration that some of your guests may not RSVP but will still attend the wedding as this will increase the potential expense.
Common knowledge and experience tells us that people typically drink less in the mornings and afternoon than they do during the evening, so planning your open bar wedding earlier in the day will substantially reduce your costs.
The duration of the open bar will also have an effect on final cost. In order to reduce cost limited the length of the open bar, this will allow for a few free drinks, while hopefully limiting overindulgence.
A couple who absolutely must have an open bar at their wedding can save money by offering a limited open bar. A limited bar means that you limit the diversity of the drinks offered and/or the types of alcohol. Offering a few mixed drinks, just wine or just beer can help to significantly reduce the costs associated with an open bar wedding, while still allowing your guests to enjoy a few drinks on you.
The third type of wedding is a “cash bar.” Like an open bar, a cash bar allows guests to consume as much alcohol as they would like, but differs in its requirement that they pay for it themselves. This is a great alternative to an open bar if you want to make alcohol available to your guests but are not interested in incurring the extra costs associated with it.

 

Here are two things to consider if you choose to offer a cash bar.
Mention “cash bar” on the invitation so guests come prepared to spend a few bucks on drinks. Nothing worse than showing up to a cash bar wedding ill-prepared!
Reduce your guests out-of-pocket cost by offering a couple bottles of wine per table. This will give your guests something to drink on you, before they have to buy their own.

Ultimately the decision to have an open bar, limited open bar or cash bar wedding is up to you. The pros and cons of each vary greatly and may not be the same for every wedding. If you have two thousand dollars extra to spend on your wedding an open bar is a great use for that money. However, if money is tight, offering a cash bar is the best way to provide your guests with the ability to drink while reducing your overall cost.
Needless to say, your guests probably will not remember whether you have an open bar, a limited bar or a cash bar so feel free to do what is best for you and your budget!

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