How Much is an Open Bar at a Wedding?

How Much is an Open Bar at a Wedding?

Most of us dream of a fabulous reception for our wedding. We want it to be a memorable party without spending too much.

If you are such a person, an open bar might just be what you need.  But how much is an open bar at a wedding?

Well, we have the answer for you. We will be discussing how much you need to have an open bar reception at your wedding. Plus, we share a few tricks for cutting down some costs.

What is An Open Bar at a Wedding?

First, let’s understand what an open bar is. It means the host will pay for all the drinks. This is one of the most popular setups at weddings, parties, and other events.

It’s different from a cash bar or a dry wedding. You can use an open bar to thank your guests for coming. 

Average Cost of an Open Bar at a Wedding?

An open bar can be costly. According to a recent survey, the cost for an open bar for 100 guests can be around $2200, but with your taxes and tips, you’re looking at more like $2,500. For a wedding of 200+, You could be looking at close to $4,000.

Many brides and grooms have to consider whether or not they’re willing to invite fewer guests in order to offer an open bar for those lucky enough to attend. Most wedding planners recommend an open bar, if not maybe people’s 1st and 2nd drinks are free, and the rest they pay for themselves.

What Determines the Price of the Open Bar?

Sit with your partner and agree on the price. Come up with the bottom line budget of your wedding, which should include the bar services.

Here are the general factors to put in mind:

How many people are invited?

The number of guests is obviously the main factor that will affect your budget. It will determine how much catering, alcohol, venue, equipment, and party favors will cost.

The more people will be drinking at an open bar, the higher the count. You need to take the headcount. This can help you strike for a discount.

On average, such a bar will cost about $20 per head. If, therefore, you have 100 guests, expect to spend $2000.

Factor in the quality of the alcohol too. This could increase or lower the overall budget.

The alcohol provider

There are several ways of sourcing alcohol. Buy it yourself, get a professional vendor, or get it from the venue. It would be best to buy it yourself in bulk from a warehouse.

Just makes sure you communicate with the venue or caretaker to remove it from the agreement.  If someone else buys, the general cost could be per guest.

The type of alcohol

There are cheap drinks, and there are more expensive ones. Buy more affordable options. Consider if you are going for just beer or wine too.

Venue and licensing

Your budget is greatly affected by the rules of the venue. Some venues have contracts that may require you to use specific service providers. In others, pricing can vary.

A venue can charge you by consumption or at a flat rate. Whatever the case, be sure to ask for their licensing too.

Bartender fee

You need a professional bartender to operate an open bar. They will do all the mixing and pouring of drinks safely.

The price for bartenders varies from state to state. Also, you will need to tip them.

Size of the bar

Do you want to go limited or a full bar? A limited bar is often a preference for a tight budget. In this case, the host pays, but the selection is limited.

A full bar means there is a wide variety of drunks. But it takes more money. Some couples find it worth the trouble.


There is no easy way of answering “how much is an open bar at a wedding,” But with this information, you can find a way to adjust your budget. You will find a good deal that fits your budget.

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