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How to Keep the Cost of Your Wedding Reception's Bar in Check

As it turns out, an open bar isn't your only option.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Jillian Mitchell Photography

You want your guests to have an amazing time at your wedding, but at what cost? When it comes to planning your reception, bar expenses can add up quickly. The good news is that there are a few smart ways to keep those costs in check—even if you're considering an open bar. To ensure you won't be surprised by the price tag associated with your big-day booze, read up on all of your options for hosting the bar. No matter what, we don't recommend asking your guests to pay for drinks, but it's certainly acceptable to limit the selections or adjust the timing.

 

Related: How to Save Money on Alcohol for Your Wedding Bar

 

If you're having an all-night open bar...

Did you know that you can still set some parameters around a full open bar? If you're inclined, you can swap top-shelf liquor (certain name brand spirits) for well options, or have just a few bottles of each type of alcohol on hand. If and when those run out, guests will have to choose something else. You also have an option to set a cap on the open bar, so if in the wee hours of the night the bar reaches that volume of sales, the staff will close down or start offering a more limited selection.

 

If you're having an open bar only during the cocktail hour...

One popular option is to host a full open bar during the cocktail hour, and then offer free-flowing beer and wine for the rest of the reception, and perhaps a signature cocktail or two. Guests seeking stronger spirits or specialty cocktails are still welcome to order a round at the bar on their own tab, of course, but most will enjoy the options you're generously providing.

 

If you're serving just signature cocktails...

The best part about planning your wedding reception is all of the ways that you can add little personal touches. And what better way to share a few of your favorite things than by offering a pair of Mr. & Mrs. signature cocktails. In lieu of a full open bar, you can ask bartenders to mix up only your personalized sips all night, or else offer these with a few beer and wine options.

 

If you're having just beer and wine...

Alternatively, it's totally okay forego spirits altogether, as most of your guests will be more than satisfied with beer and wine options. If you and your fiancé hardly indulge or abstain from drinking entirely, start the reception with a nominal bar tab, or offer tickets for one or two drinks per person.