Types of Bar you can offer
at your wedding

type of Bar you can offer at your wedding

Most of us have attended a wedding or an event that offers alcoholic beverages in some capacity. Perhaps you didn’t give it much thought at the time, but now that your planning your own wedding you need to consider what types of bar you can offer at your wedding. Will you have an open bar or a cash bar? Will you pay per drink or opt for a bar package offered by your venue? It’s a big decision and you need to weigh your options to find the one that suits your budget, and your crowd best.


Open Bar

type of Bar you can offer at your wedding


Generally speaking, an open bar means guests don’t pay for their drinks. Guests can walk up to the bar and order whatever is available without having to pay. The event host (the couple) will foot the bill at the end of the night. Open bars are the most common these days and can be done in a variety of ways. The two most common Open Bar options are:

  1. Corkage Bar: A corkage bar means you are responsible for applying for a liquor permit and purchasing your own alcohol.  In turn, the venue will charge you a “corkage fee” per guest ranging anywhere from $13 – $20 per person and they will provide all the pop, juice, garnishes, glassware, ice, etc. required to serve your guests. A corkage bar is the best option if you know you have a big drinking crowd.


  2. Consumption Bar: This means you are paying for each drink consumed (ordered) throughout the night. The venue will tally up the number of drinks and charge you accordingly. The more your guests drink the higher the bill. This route is only cost-effective if you know your guests won’t be drinking very much.

If you decide to add a signature drink to the mix, make sure you discuss this with the venue ahead of time. Depending on the complexity and ingredients of the drink, this might have additional fees when doing a consumption bar.


Cash Bar

type of Bar you can offer at your wedding

A cash bar is not as common anymore, but still available for those who want to keep their event cost down. A cash bar means guests will pay per drink or start their own tab at the bar as they would at a restaurant. This certainly changes the tone of the event, as guests are more cautious as to how much they are spending. As the couple, you may also have to pay a fee for the bartenders if you don’t reach the spending minums imposed by the venue. This minimum varies from venue to venue.

Dry Bar

A dry bar means no alcohol is being served throughout the evening. This may be for religious purposes, or a choice the couple chooses to make. This means only juice, pops, etc. will be available with no option to purchase alcohol at the event.

Time and cost-saving tips

type of Bar you can offer at your wedding

With so many types of bar you can offer at your wedding here are a few tips to ensure your guests have a good experience and you maintain control of the cost.

  • For cocktail hour we suggest only offering beer, wine, and a signature drink. This will ensure the bar lines move quickly and everyone has the opportunity to grab a drink prior to dinner.
  • For larger crowds, we recommend having a pre-poured champagne table as guests arrive. This will immediately serve 40 – 50 guests and elevate the bar rush.
  • Don’t offer premium liquor or specialty drinks (with the exception of 1 or 2 signature cocktails).
  • Have a liquor menu available at the bar. This will ensure the bartender isn’t listing off the options for every person and guests can choose their drink while waiting in line.
  • If you are planning a cocktail-style reception, here’s some great advice on how to do it!
  • Want to learn more about how many bartenders you need to manage a bar and the cost associated? This article offers some great advice.

Now that you have a better understanding of the types of bar you can offer at your wedding you can make a more informed decision. Talk to your wedding planner or venue coordinator to learn more about the available options to you.