(Closed) How much does open bar typically cost?

posted 5 years ago in Food
Post # 2
470 posts
Helper bee

People are going to criticize the fact that you might not have an open bar, just to warn you. Not me though!

I’d ask them what your options are. Some venues (not mine) allow you to restrict to beer and wine, which can help with cost. You sometimes can also do a limited tab, which means you are willing to pay for a certain amount of booze, at which point they switch to a cash bar. This is what I’m doing. My venue told me to expect about $30 per person for an open bar, if that helps. I also remember reading something here about 1 drink per 1.5 hours.

I know other people sometimes do time-based open bars, for example having open bar during the cocktail hour, and then cash for the rest of the reception. My only warning against that option, however, is that if people know they have a limited amount of time where they can get a free drink, they might order more than they normally would.

Post # 3
698 posts
Busy bee

I think it depends nearly entirely on geographic location and type of venue. What kind of place is your venue and where is it located? I know your fb friends sound really obnoxious and unappreciative, but I don’t think their questioning open bar is so illogical. Try to let that one go. Bottom line is that if open bar is out of your budget, then so be it! Everyone will live and they’ll still have fun!

Post # 4
906 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

…this is part of the reason why our wedding isn’t mentioned on social media. 

To answer the question, our open bar cost is about $45/person. We are serving full liquor during the cocktail hour throughout the reception. 

Post # 5
330 posts
Helper bee

Our wedding is in Chicago and when I was venue shopping open bar was typically $10+ per person per hour. 

Post # 6
4596 posts
Honey bee

My caterer in the Bay Area charges roughly $20 per person for an open bar of beer and wine (for about 5.5 hours). 

  • This reply was modified 5 years, 3 months ago by zl27.
Post # 7
231 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2017

new orleans wedding, and $49 pp for the middle package of open bar

Post # 8
680 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2015 - Beautiful place.

Our open bar with 4 signature drinks for 150 people was $2500.

I love drinks and beer and wine etc.. I do not drink a lot thou, but I do enjoy it, so the bar was for me.. AhahahHa 

Post # 9
416 posts
Helper bee

Maybe you can negotiate a few domestic beers, a house white wine and a house white red wine and call it a night. I appreciate wanting to host your guests to the best of you ability, but I also get annoyed with people who think they are entitled to certain drinks/liquors and especially top shelf liquor. Great when possible. Ridiculous to scoff if it’s not done.

Post # 10
2119 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

Our open bar was a little more than the cost of our food, (about $2500 for 80 guests for 5 hours) but we also had to upgrade to a higher package to meet the catering minimum at our venue. I loved having an open bar – even if we didn’t have to meet the minimum, we would have had one. 

  • This reply was modified 5 years, 3 months ago by stephncollins.
Post # 11
7652 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2013

This is going to vary so much based on where you are located. Our wedding was in an area that’s low-middle cost of living (I think) and we were charged $25.50 per person for our full open bar with many beer and wine options and top shelf liquor. So we paid about $6000 once you tack on the 20% service charge the venue had.

In our area it is quite common to just serve a couple of types of beer and a couple of types of wine. This would have saved us about $1500. So it still isn’t cheap but perhaps that is something you could look into?

I think many people who ask this question haven’t planned a wedding yet (or at least in my experience). I actually jokingly asked this question of a friend before I planned a wedding and realized just how expensive it is. I will never ask it again!

Post # 12
218 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2016 - World\'s Fair Pavilion

We’re paying $19pp for 4.5 hours of open bar. Price includes well liquor, domestic beer, and a couple of options for both red and white wine (as well as soda, iced tea, and lemonade).

Post # 13
180 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 2015

Ours was 27 pp for a full open bar. I think just beer and wine was like 24 and premium liquor was 33. 

We got our money’s worth.

Post # 14
727 posts
Busy bee

My venue doesn’t have a package option for an open bar or just a beer/wine package. I would have to pay the tab at the end of the night  per drink whatever it was and that’s just not in my budget with 200 guests. I would love to do it if I had the money but I don’t so people will have to understand. And if they don’t oh well lol

Post # 15
934 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969 - City, State

My open bar tab came to a little over $4000 for 100 people, and we paid per drink.  This was about 6-7 hours of drinking at a nice restaurant in a big city.  I dunno, food alone was about $15k, so we were definitely not going to cheap out and not serve alcohol.   Can you at least offer wine and beer?  

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