Having a Bar at Your Event | Our Favorite Tips

Providing alcoholic drinks for your guests is often a big part of planning. We constantly hear people concerned that their guests won’t have a good time at their event, and we know (whether they say it or not), people correlate “fun” with their guests having access to alcoholic beverages. But, there are many, many questions about how to host a bar without going over your budget (We get it, booze can get expensive!). Well, we have some tips for you!


Two types of event bars

A. Open Bars

i. One type of open bar will charge a flat fee per person, which you will pay upfront, allowing your guests unlimited drinks throughout the evening. This can be a great option because it allows for you to budget the exact cost of drinks and there’s no bar tab to settle at the end of the evening. However, keep in mind that these fees are often based on an average (for example, a person consuming 2 drinks per hour at $5 a drink, so the fee would be $40 per person for a 4 hour reception).

ii. Other open bars charge based on consumption. Sometimes this is per drink that’s ordered, and other times it’s based on the bottles that are opened or kegs that are tapped, regardless if you go through the entire thing or not. While this type of open bar simplifies things, and you’re only paying for what’s consumed, it can be very tricky to estimate ahead of time.

B. Cash Bars

i. This option means your guests will pay for each drink they consume, just as if they were at an actual bar.

C. Bars on a Budget

There are some creative ways to save money and still ensure that no one is left thirsty:

    1. Host only beer and wine, bringing down costs (and possibly preventing Tio Julio’s terrible dance moves)
    2. Have signature drinks (like his and hers cocktails for a wedding, or a pink drink for a quince!)
    3. Have the bar open for a limited time, such as closed until after dinner, closed during dinner, or only open for two hours.
    4. Give out drink tickets, limiting the amount of drinks consumed.
    5. A mix of all of these i. No, we don’t mean a mixture of all the booze you’re providing, but rather mixing the options we’ve listed above. Some people may choose to host a signature cocktail, beer and wine during cocktail hour, and then switch the bar to only hosting beer and wine for the remainder of the evening. Your options are endless, which is why it’s important to work out an exact plan prior to your event day. Be careful with changing the drinks though, we don’t want your guests to get too borracho.
    6. Find a venue that lets you bring your own alcohol

i. This way you can budget early how much the bar will cost you at the event.

ii.See if the venue has a corkage fee. This is where venues charge for opening and serving bottles of alcohol. Remember this when making your budget!

iii. Think about your guests, if they tend to drink more liquor than wine, don’t buy a lot of wine.

iv. The day of the week the event is on will influence how much people will drink. For example, if your event is on a Friday night, guests will probably drink more than on Sunday mid-day.  

We wish you luck with finding what fits your event! Look for bar service vendors on our vendor site to find vendors near you!


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