Should You Have a Cash or Open Bar?

One question I receive from my brides is whether or not they should have an open (aka host) bar or a cash bar.  A cash bar is when your guests have to pay for drinks (usually excluding water and coffee as that's typically provided by the venue).  An open/host bar is when the cost of drinks (alcohol and soda) are paid for by the bride and groom.  It may not seem like a difficult answer but sometimes, brides can worry what their guests may think if they choose to have a cash bar only.  Here are my tips for deciding whether to have an open bar or a cash bar at your wedding reception: 

Tip #1: What's your budget look like? This is probably the deciding factor on whether you can have a cash bar or an open bar.  Do you have room in your budget to pay for your guest drinks?

Tip #2: You can limit how long you have an open/host bar.  Oftentimes a good compromise is to have an open bar for the duration of the cocktail hour, which can run between 1-2 hours and then after the grand entrance the bar turns into a cash bar.

Tip #3: You can limit what is served.  You and your groom are beer drinkers and to stay true to that you only have the bar serve your favorite type of beer all night long.  This is usually done as a host bar but can also be a cash bar option. 

Tip #4: You can host specific drinks.  You can host beer and wine and sodas all night long.  And if your guests want something stronger, they can pay for it themselves.

Tip #5: You can create a signature drink that is served all night long but all other drinks are paid for by your guests.

Tip #6: Some venues will you bring in the alcohol and charge you for a bartender.  See if this is an option for your venue.

Bonus Tip: Don't forget your guests that do not drink alcohol.  Sodas are not typically provided by the venue as part of your dinner service.  Don't forget to provide options for your guests that are underage or do not drink. 

Did any of these tips help?  Have you decided to have a car bar or an open bar?  Share with us below!