Should You Have an Open Bar at Your Wedding?

We like to help all you brides out with the wedding planning questions that are often the most debated aspects of a wedding. Having Alcohol at your wedding can come with a big price tag .. so what is worth the cost? Beer & wine only, signature cocktails, or a paid bar? The booze can be brought out in a variety of ways so we thought it best to talk to the people who have planned/attended/coordinated many a wedding to give us their personal and professional opinions on whether or not you should have an open bar at your wedding!


Amber Karson and Emily Butler of Karson Butler Events 

If a full open bar isn’t in the budget, consider serving wine and beer only.  A beer and wine bar can be impactful when brews are regional or have special meaning to the couple. Another suggestion is to pick one or two specialty drinks and serve only those throughout the night.  A seasonal specialty drink station will have high impact without breaking the bank!  And remember – the garnish, glassware, and special touches like calligraphy drink flags are just as memorable as the drink itself! Cheers!

Should You Have A Wedding Planner

Photo by Abby Jiu, Photo by Amelia Johnson


Should You Have A Wedding Planner

Photo by Studio EMP


Constance Curtis of Constance Curtis Events 

When having a wedding and inviting family and friends to celebrate your marriage, your guests shouldn’t have to pay for anything at the celebration, including the alcohol. Having an open bar is proper etiquette. I understand weddings get very expensive but there are ways to make it work. Having a bar with beer and wine only is a great way to save. If having hard alcohol is a must, then do beer, wine and one signature cocktail. Having an open bar may also mean you have to cut back in other areas such as decor and not upgrade to those nicer chairs you want. It’s worth it though as guests will not remember all the days details but will remember having to pay for their own alcohol.

Should You Have A Wedding Planner

Photo by Oz Visuals

Barbi Walters of Lynden Lane Co. 

Open or hosted bar is one of the most often asked budget questions as well as the most heated topics. You want your to guests feel welcome and honored to be a guest at your wedding. Much as they would if they were a guest in your home. You would never, we hope, have a paid bar at your home nor should you at the reception.  There are many ways to host without breaking the bank.

Limit hard alcohol to the signature cocktails. Just provide wine and beer or gasp, trim your list to a more manageable number where your budget can handle the costs. Always ask your caterer for options they often will help you come up with creative options.

Should You Have A Wedding Planner

Left: Design by Lynden Lane Co.  Photo by Erin Hearts CourtDesign by Bash D.C., Photo by Eli Turner


Terri Eaves of Bash

I would recommend clients do a full open bar versus a wine and beer only bar. With a full bar it is likely that it will appeal to more guests than just beer and wine. In either scenario, I think quality of the beer, wine and liquor is most important.

I think there is a slight misconception that a wine and beer bar is less expensive than liquor, but that’s not always the case. When you consider how pricey wine bottles can get or specialty brews, this bar can in fact be more than a full bar, and I know from experience! You of course know your guests best and if there really aren’t any liquor drinkers, than beer and wine might make more sense.



8 responses to “Should You Have an Open Bar at Your Wedding?

  1. I think beer and wine can be broad enough to appeal to everyone’s tastes if a complete bar isn’t for you. I love what they said about quality too!

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