What Are Our Options If We Don't Want an Open Bar?

Updated 10/10/16

While your guests are really at your wedding to celebrate your marriage with you, there's a chance more than a few of them will joke that they're only coming for the open bar. Throwing a great party is every couple's goal, but springing for a full open bar can often be expensive, or just might not be the vibe you're going for. What are your options if you don't want to have an open bar? Here are a few from our experts.

The great news is, there are so many options beyond having an open bar or skipping the booze entirely. The most common is to limit the bar selections by offering a few types of wine and beer, and possibly adding on a signature cocktail if there's one or two drinks you'd really love to serve. This gives your guests a few choices, while also letting you know exactly what you'll need your catering staff to order and giving you a better idea of what you're going to spend. Think about options that will span a variety of tastes, aiming for a lighter and heavier version of each type of beverage you offer. That might mean serving a lager and a stout, a pinot noir and a cabernet, and a sauvignon blanc and a chardonnay.

If skipping the open bar entirely doesn't sound like a good option for your crowd, talk to your venue or caterer about your choices. The first is to offer an open bar up to a certain dollar amount, then switch over to a cash bar for those who still want liquor after that point (with, say, a couple beers and a red and white wine available all night). The second is to serve an open bar only during cocktail hour, then to switch to beer and wine during and after dinner. Both of these options will allow your guests to have a mixed drink or two, while limiting the number of bottles of liquor you'll need to order and pay for later in the evening.

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