How Much is An Open Bar for a Wedding Reception?

One challenging aspect of wedding planning is the considerable portion of the budget dedicated to food and drinks. The costs can quickly escalate, particularly when it comes to wedding bars. With an open bar arrangement, all expenses for the alcoholic drinks consumed by the guests are borne by the host. Open bars are popular at a variety of social gatherings, including weddings, birthday parties, corporate events, and other celebrations. To learn about the expenses associated with an open bar at a wedding reception, continue with the article.

The cost of an open bar depends on a variety of factors, such as the choice of alcoholic beverage served, the number of guests, and the type of open bar, etc. Below we will discuss the cost of an open bar for a wedding reception.

How Much is An Open Bar for a Wedding Reception?

The average open bar cost of a wedding can be 10-20% of the wedding budget. And don’t forget that tipping bartenders at the end of the night can increase it by more than 20% of the final cost. Using the rule of two drinks in the first hour and then one drink per guest, you can estimate that the average drink costs $6. You can easily find out the total cost of your drinks.

Multiply the cost by the number of total guests by the number of hours for your open bar to get the total cost. If you don’t understand let’s look at an example – let’s say you have 100 people in your marriage. It is always better to evaluate excessively than to be brief so let’s say the average person consumes 6 drinks. This means they drink a total of 600 drinks and the average cost of drinks will be $6 each. So, the total cost for drinks is $3600. 

A four-hour reception costs an average of $15 to $90 per person, and premium wines cost an additional $3 to $4 per person. To save money, it is recommended that only wine and beer be served. It reduces the average cost per person from $ 11 to $ 33, depending on the caterer, wine, and beer. In big cities, the price of an open bar can double or triple.

How Many Guests Will Be There?

The more guests at an event, the higher of open bar or drinks cost will be. If your guest's list is big, then the bill for the following things will also be larger.

  • Catering costs
  • Alcohol costs
  • Party favors
  • Equipment costs
  • Venue costs, etc.

All of your wedding and drinks costs depend on your guest's list. Besides, beyond determining the number of your guests, you should estimate what percentage of your guests will drink at your wedding reception. If you know that your guest's list is full of heavy drinkers, this may help you decide on the best alcohol option or package. So, make sure that how many people attend your wedding reception, it helps to choose the best open bar package option.

What You Want to Serve

Expensive liquor increases the overall costs of an open bar. It seems like a no-brainer, but here is where the Hyundai and Ferrari analogy comes in. If you want a floater of $100 scotch on top of each cocktail served, your price will increase. To save more money, choose the $20 bottle of tequila, not the $120 bottle of tequila.

Charge of the Bartenders

To run an open bar safely, you just need a bartender. Open bars require trained and licensed bartenders to serve guests safely. So, when you going to book a bartender, make sure that they have liability insurance or license. The best way to have an open on a budget is to compare different bar center rates. If you ask a bar catering company to host an open bar, a bartender fee will probably be included in the package.

Bartender prices range vary from state to state and according to the bartender's experience. Typically, the average bartender rate is $40 per hour. This price range can change, depending on the bartender's experience, location. Keep in mind that you can hire a bartender if the catering company does not offer a bartender.

Reception Duration

The duration of reception can vary and guests will be able to drink as long as the party continues. Normally, a wedding reception lasts about five hours on average.

Typically, wedding planners assume that guests will have two drinks in the first hour of the open bar and one extra drink in the next hour. If you choose to keep your reception short time or close the open bar strictly, this can help control alcohol expense.

Liquor License

If you want to arrange a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) wedding party, then you need to make sure that the venue you want to arrange the party allows outside alcohol to be brought in. Wherever you want to have your party, you must also check the related laws of that state. Because some states only allow alcohol to be served by a provider with a liquor license.

Another hand, the best way to lower the costs of your open bar reception, going the DIY (Do It Yourself) route and delivering your own alcoholic beverages. This can help you reduce costs by 30-40% of your total costs.


As you see above, the open bar wedding reception is always expensive. If you want to reduce your open bar cost, then you can apply the ideas which are given in above. Many couples choose an open bar for their wedding reception. However, if you want to save your money and at the same time make your weddings guests happy, you can consider an intermediate option and host a modified open bar. We hope that you will find the article about how much is an open bar for a wedding reception is helpful.

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