One of the biggest issues my couples face when wedding planning is the mystery of the bar- should it be open, or should guests have to pay for drinks? According to a 2017 report by Bridebook.co.uk, a free bar is one of the things that’s first to be axed.
My advice is to only offer what you can afford to spend.
Whatever option you go with, we suggest that you clearly display the beverage choices to your guests with a bar menu and offer plenty of non-alcoholic options to keep everyone hydrated.
If you’re wondering what constitutes as an open bar, it’s pretty simple. It just means that the happy couple have footed the bill for all of the night’s drinks, so guests won’t have to schlep their purses or wallets to the bar every time they need a refill. As a rough guide, a free bar post dinner (3/4 hours) for 100 guests can cost in the region of £1,000 – £2,000 with a couple of limitations (not ‘top shelf’ liquors, single shots only etc).
Photo by Oscar Söderlund / Unsplash
If you go with a cash bar, your guests will be tasked with paying for their own beverages with the exception of a glass of bubbly for the toasts. While this is seen as a huge no-no in some social circles, it’s perfectly acceptable in others. Prepared guests are happy guests, most wedding guests will be expecting a hosted bar, so if you plan to go the cash bar route, be sure to spread the word via your wedding website or even just word-of-mouth, so that guests can be prepared.
Instead of offering unlimited options you can also do a white bar, which, like it says, only offers white beverages such as vodka, gin, white rum, white wine, etc. There’s also the cost-cutting option of a soft bar, which only offers champagne, beer, red and white wine.
Cocktail lovers, or know that you have non wine and beer-y friends? His n’Hers cocktails using cheaper spirits and juices, and offer these along with the wines and beers on your board. This way you can agree the rough cost up front with your venue (or buy all necessary ingredients yourself if allowed!), and avoid nasty expensive alcohol surprises!
The best part about choosing a specialty cocktail for the night is you don’t have to choose just one. If you love tequila but your spouse is more into rum, combine your tastes with a cocktail made for each of you.