Fun Alternatives To Having An Open Bar

Updated: Aug 18, 2020



Are you looking to keep the party going with an open bar, but you also want to save some cash at the same time? You’ve come to the right place! With open bars often running couples between $45 – $75 per person for a four-hour reception, liquor expenses can eat up a significant portion of wedding budgets.

A simple way to cut down on expenses is to skip having an open bar. As we know that deciding to limit the guests’ drinking options can often be a point of worry for soonly-weds, we have compiled a list of some fun alternatives that will still keep the drinks flowing, while keeping your money in your wallet!

From microbreweries and vineyards to consumption bars and signature drinks, we’ve rounded up tried and trusted alternatives to open bars to make narrowing down your liquor decisions a breeze!


Swap The Bubbly

To save money in a major way, consider swapping out champagne for another bubbly alternative – prosecco! While prosecco is a much more affordable option than serving champagne, it’s equally as delicious and a great substitute for a champagne toast!

With tons of options for mixing and mimosas, have bartenders pour glasses of prosecco for your guests and invite them to create their own cocktails at your custom mixing bar. Your guests will have the option to concoct their perfect drink using an assortment of various juices, purees, fruit, and garnishes.


Incorporate Local Flavor​

Instead of opting for top-shelf liquor (or any liquor for that matter), stick strictly to a beer and wine menu and inform your bartenders to switch over to a cash bar if guests would like something other than the options provided.

Research local microbreweries and vineyards for an added personal touch! Curate a drink menu that features local delights that are unique to your venue's location. Provide a few options so that guests can really get a taste of the regional specialties and list where each of the beers and wines were crafted. Who knows, your guests may just end up leaving with a new local favorite!


Keep It Personal

Another fun alternative to an open bar is serving signature drinks! Work with your bartender to craft drinks that are unique to both of you and that are based on your personalities. Also, be sure to feature different spirits in each drink to offer guests a little variety.

Choose quirky drink names for added fun and pair them with a chic bar sign (or bar napkins) that explains why each of you selected the cocktail and be sure to include your wedding hashtag!

You can opt to have your bartenders serve only your signature cocktails in an open bar format or to have them serve the signature cocktails as an open bar but serve other mixed drinks and cocktails as a cash bar.


Cocktail Hour​ = Open Cocktails

Consider going traditional and hosting an open bar for the Cocktail Hour between the Ceremony and Reception. This allows your guests the freedom to order whichever drink they would like for a specified amount of time.

Once the Reception begins, you have the option of either having your caterer’s waitstaff pour wine table side, switching the bar over to beer and wine only, or to switch to a cash bar. Whichever you decide, have your bartenders communicate your choice to your guests throughout the Cocktail Hour.


Limited Consumption

Another cost-saving option would be asking your venue if they offer a consumption bar. The idea behind this is that you allocate a certain amount of money to the bar and that amount can only be used towards drinks of your choice (beer and wine, signature drinks, prosecco, etc).

Once the set amount has been used, the bar switches over to a full cash bar. This helps to ensure that instead of paying per person, your money is only applied to guests who actually consume drinks.

Other alternatives include having wine bottles on the table for guests to serve themselves, serving mocktails, and non-alcoholic drinks such as sweet tea, and fresh lemonade, instead of cocktails. Or you could just have a fully stocked cash bar. Whatever you decide, we hope that these open bar alternatives make your decision a little easier and save your budget in a huge way! Let us know in the comments if you found any other creative ways to save on your wedding alcohol!