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  • Writer's pictureAnna Sinclair


Have you ever been to a wedding with an open bar and had a bad time? Well maybe, but that's because you may have overindulged on the open bar, aka got hammed.

It's a lot to consider when deciding if you should have an open bar, a cash bar, or somewhere in between. Here is how we broke it down to help make a decision.


On one hand, you want your guests to have the best possible time and alcohol definitely assists with that. A nice and buzzed crowd can make for louder cheering, more dancing, and more excitement. On the other hand, it can bloody add up. An open bar can run you $2,000 - $3,000 depending on how fancy you get with your premium alcohol and the number of guests. If you are having your wedding in a remote or rural location, you need to also consider transportation accessibility for guests to prevent drinking and driving. The average cost of renting a bus to take transport guests to a from the venue to a single drop point is $700.

If you are paying for the majority of the wedding, saving that kind of money can make the difference between covering the wedding or defaulting on vendor payments. If you consider a cash bar, you may be even able to turn a cost center into a profit center to help cover expenses of the wedding. Which leads me to my next point...


Cash bars are a really great way to generate some money to pay for the heavy investment you just made into your dream wedding. A part of me doesn't love this concept because guests are already paying for dress clothes, a gift, transportation, and accommodations (if necessary).

Additionally you are asking them to pay for drinks to have a good time. Weddings with a cash bar seem to have a less active dance floor and less rowdiness; which is not necessarily a bad thing but I personally do enjoy a good party with lots of excitement. The cash bar is also a good way of preventing people from over consuming and drinking & driving. People drink more responsibly when they are paying for their alcohol. There is also less wasted drinks left half full then when drinking on the bride & grooms dime.

Lets crunch some numbers, if you charge $5 for the average drink, with 110 guests at an average 4 drinks a person, the total profit would ad up to $4,400. If the alcohol costs you $2,000, you would make $2,200 in profit that you can use towards other costs. Do consider though that if guests have to count money and add up how much they are spending on booze, it may slightly take away your guests focus on the bride & groom.

But wait, there is something in between those options....


There are solutions that can provide you with the best of both worlds. These can range from open bar at certain hours to an all evening toonie bar. Depending on your crowd, striking a balance between the two may be a perfect solution.

Anna and I played around with the idea of having an open bar for specific hours of the party. Our wedding is from 3:00 PM to 12:00 AM (not by choice) so we are thinking of having open bar at:

  • cocktail hour after the ceremony 4pm - 5pm

  • 2 free bottles of wine on the tables at dinner

  • moonlight hour 9:30pm - 10pm

This could be a great solution for having the guests enjoy some free alcohol while covering the costs of the bar itself. You could easily raise $2,000 which again would pay for the booze.

We are most likely going to be implementing the hybrid model above that will allow us to break even on our alcohol. Paying for a wedding can be very stressful and it gives us one less thing to worry about.

If I had it my way, I'd say open bar every single time! It wouldn't hurt if you hit the lottery jackpot or found a sponsor to pick up the tab.

We would love to hear more about what you have done or are planning to do for the bar at your wedding. Please comment below with the solution that worked for you.

With gratitude,



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