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Understanding Wedding Bar Packages

Bar services may be provided by the venue or you may have to book an outside company. Either way, when booking your bar service, you will need to decide the different structures and inclusions. The below information will help simplify the different options.



One of the first things you need to decide is what you want to offer at the bar. Wine? Beer? Cocktails? All of the above? Talk it over with your partner knowing the package pricing usually varies depending on what you offer. Also determine if the brand matters to you. There is usually tiered pricing that ranges from bottom to top shelf wine and spirits as well as domestic and craft beer.


Open bar means that you are paying for all of your guests’ drinks with no limitations. This is the most common selection for wedding receptions.


Limited open bar means you are paying for all of your guests’ drinks but with some restrictions. This is a common selection if your wedding reception is at a restaurant where your guests could order anything the establishment has in stock and therefore guests can tend to get a little carried away ordering 14 year old scotch. The most common restriction is bottom shelf liquor only or only drinks below a certain dollar amount.


Capped open bar is where you limit how much you are willing to spend on drinks for everyone. An example of this is giving each guest a certain number of drink tickets and after they are used, they pay for their own drinks. Another example is open bar until your tab reaches a specific total amount and then you switch over to cash bar.


Cash bar means that everyone is on their own as far as paying for drinks. Sometimes, “cash bar” literally means the bar only accepts cash payments but usually they accept both cash and card, however, you will need to verify with your bar service provider and inform your guests appropriately. This option is not as common and is not usually well-received by guests; but it is still an available option for lower budget weddings, especially if your guests are not big drinkers.


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