When trying to pick the type of bar service you want for your wedding reception, your decision will depend on many different factors. This includes how many guests you can expect at your wedding reception, and how much each guest will likely drink.
Of course, you also need to think about how much you’re willing to spend on bar service for your wedding. When it comes to the bar service, this can be a difficult choice for many couples, but thankfully, there are a lot of options to consider.
This includes open, cash and host bars to name a few. There are also limited and subsidized bars when you want to do a mixture of open and cash bars.
In this article, we are going to discuss what is the best bar service you should consider for your wedding reception. This is between an open bar, a host bar and a cash bar.
Open Bar Overview
An open bar requires that you cover the cost of all beverages. You will pay an hourly cost for each guest. Rather than paying for each individual drink, regardless of how much alcohol is drunk.
For a bar package, the majority of caterers will offer you a couple of rates. A smaller range of alcohol, that is generic, will be the least expensive option. A more expensive plan will provide you access to a wider variety and premium liquor kept at your bar.
It’s simple to calculate your budget and ensure you’re on track when you choose an hourly package.
Advantages Of An Open Bar
- Eliminates interactions and transactions with the bar staff, which shortens wait times and lines.
- Gusts will be more inclined to drink more and let loose.
- It enables you to decide what your visitors will drink thanks to pre-selected beverages.
- The total bill is paid in advance, so there are no unpleasant surprises at the end of the evening.
Disadvantages Of An Open Bar
- Guests may overindulge, which could result in excessive intoxication.
- Considering that you have to pay for everyone’s beverages, it might get pricey.
- If you don’t think your guests will drink much, you could be wasting money.
Host Bar Overview
Many people mistake an open bar with a host bar. A host bar bases its calculations on the beverages which your guests order. The bartender should make note of the beverages you order. Then at the end of the evening, you’ll be billed for each drink.
Sometimes the caterer may measure the bottles at the end of the night rather than charging per drink. The cost of your drinks will depend on how much alcohol your guests consumed.
It is important to make sure your contract specifies the procedure and the costs if you’re providing a host bar, so you know what to expect.
Advantages Of A Host Bar
- There is neither speculation nor wastage. Only the drinks consumed by your guests will be charged to you.
- Similar to an open bar, it shortens wait times and lineups by doing away with bartender interactions.
Disadvantages Of A Host Bar
- In contrast to an open bar, there is no cap on how much people can consume, and you are still responsible for paying the tab.
- Similar to an open bar, attendees might still overindulge and ruin the mood of the wedding reception.
Open Bar Or Host Bar: Which Is More Affordable?
Which option is more affordable largely depends on your guests, and what their drinking habits typically are.
A host bar could be a nice option if you are hosting numerous guests who don’t drink much, since you only pay for each drink, it can be the most affordable choice.
The only drawback is that you won’t learn the final cost until once the evening is over- which can be a shock to say the least.
Your guests will likely consume more alcohol if you’re planning on having a big party that goes on all night. Think about the duration of the evening.
An open bar may indeed be preferable in this situation. Although the hourly rate may appear exorbitant, you won’t be hit with a larger than anticipated payment.
As a result, between open bar and host bar, neither is cheaper than the other. It will depend on your guests and the party you want to have.
Cash Bar Overview
There is a cash bar accessible, in which each visitor is responsible for covering their own beverages and tipping the bartender. Usually, the caterer or location you’re working with will supply the bar. This is an attractive option for many couples.
Planning a cash bar is simple, and it’s also economical. At your wedding reception, the bartender and the bar will be set up once you’ve coordinated with your caterer. That being said some venues will want a minimum guarantee.
For instance, they will provide the drinks and bar for the evening, for a certain (much smaller) cost- but they will have a minimum spend that your guests need to meet, or you will have to pay a further fee.
This implies that you will be responsible for making up any shortfall if your visitors don’t spend a specified amount. It’s not inherently terrible, just double-check your numbers beforehand to see whether your guests will likely contribute the required amount.
Some people also question whether this really does indicate “cash only.” No, guests can use debit or credit cards at most wedding venues and catering businesses.
Simply stating that it is a cash bar informs guests that they are responsible for their own alcoholic beverages.
Advantages Of A Cash Bar
- Making your visitors pay for their own drinks will encourage them to consume fewer drinks, which will reduce drunkenness and increase participation in other elements of the wedding.
- Perfect if you have a small budget because one of your largest costs will be transferred to your guests.
- Guests may receive drink tickets as gifts or rewards.
Disadvantages Of A Cash Bar
- Not all your guests may be happy with having to pay for their own drinks. Thus, this may limit some of your guests on how much they will spend due to how much they are willing to spend. Hence, you may not get the really lively party you were hoping for.
Are Cash Bars In Poor Taste?
Some locations always have a cash bar at weddings. While, it is less frequent in some places and communities. You’ll need to consider your visiting family and friends and previous weddings you’ve attended.
If you haven’t attended many weddings, ask your parents, family, and future in-laws for advice on how they think it will be perceived.
If cash bars are commonplace where you live, then it should be fine, and you won’t offend anyone. Consider your other options if cash bars are actually disliked in your area.
With the subsidized or limited bar choices we’ve mentioned below, you can serve drinks while staying within your budget.
The most typical methods for serving alcohol during a wedding reception are the open bar, host bar, and cash bar. However, there are a few other possibilities for your bar if none of the above feel right to you.
You might want to provide a subsidized bard or a limited bar instead.
Subsidized Bar Overview
A subsidized bar will require you to cover a portion of your guests’ drinks. It resembles a compromise between an open bar and a cash bar. Just a few free or inexpensive drinks will be appreciated by your guests.
Yet, you won’t be saddled with a hefty tab for the entire expense. There are a couple of various ways to implement a subsidized bar, should you choose to do so.
The majority of caterers will indeed be able to provide a variety of services for varying lengths of time. Ask them whether they can accept the discounted bar service which you wish to offer.
Before you reach your final selection, do the math and take your budget into account.
Use Subsidized Bars Alongside Open Or Cash Bars
There are a lot of ways you can offer a subsidized bar alongside open bars or cash bars etc.
Paying for beverages up to a specific point in the evening is one method to support an open bar. Alternatively, you can pay up to a certain amount to use the open bar. Once you’ve spent all of your allowed money, the bar will turn into a cash bar.
Instead, you might prepay for an open bar throughout cocktail hour and dinnertime wine and beer. After dinner, the bar reopens as a cash-only establishment.
A different option is to pay for the beer and wine. Then have a cash bar where attendees can buy cocktails themselves. Or you may spend money on wine, beer, and a specialty beverage. Then offer any more beverages at a cash bar.
Paying for a few drinks per person is another option to provide a subsidized bar. You’ll need to utilize drink tickets for this choice. To apply toward the drinks of their choosing, each guest will receive two or three tickets (depending on budget).
All further beverages will be paid for by the guests, after they have used their tickets.
Advantages Of A Subsidized Bar
- There are a lot of ways in which you can implement a subsidized bar, which can make things easier for your budget.
- You can still make your guests feel relaxed by offering drinks. Then after a certain point it is their decision whether they purchase more.
Disadvantages Of A Subsidized Bar
- No matter what you do, you can’t always please everyone. Some people may object to paying even a tiny sum.
Limited Bar Overview
Although you’ll be the host, you’ll just provide a small variety of drinks and pay for all of them. Wine, beer, specialty beverages, or specific cocktails are all options for your bar menu. If you’re on a tight budget, a limited bar is a great compromise.
Drinks can be provided for your guests without costing you a fortune. You can select a few drinks menu options such as a personalized cocktail, along with a beer, soft drink or wine option to ensure everyone is happy.
There are several various possibilities for a limited bar, depending on your preferences and price range. You can restrict the booze to beer and wine if your wedding celebration is at lunch or supper.
It’s best to provide some cocktails if you’re having a cocktail hour prior to your food or dancing afterward. Along with wine and beer, you might select one or two specialty beverages to serve at this kind of reception.
The majority of vendors will let you purchase a certain amount of drinks to serve your guests, so you can have limited options, but enough for everyone.
Drinks can be added in this way without breaking the bank. For instance, you wouldn’t have guests ordering expensive cocktails, shots, spirits and more and leaving you with the bill.
You can be confident your bill won’t go over because you’ll select in advance how much to order.
Advantages Of A Limited Bar
- You can be creative with the different types of alcohol you serve.
- Limited bars are seen as the best of both worlds, as you can have more control over how much you are spending.
Disadvantages Of A Limited Bar
- Specialty beverages can sometimes be a lot more pricey, depending on what is in them.
- Some guests may like to mix their drinks, which means they have more to drink than you’d expected.
Do not forget that you do not need to spend all of your savings to put on a great wedding. Choose the bar option based on what you prefer, and price range. Most guests will simply be happy to be part of your big day, not what’s on offer.
We hope you have found this article helpful. Now you should have a better idea on the best bar service for your wedding reception between an open bar, host bar and cash bar.
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