Savvy Alternatives to an Open Bar for Your Wedding Reception

affordable alternatives to an open bar

Open bar = empty wallet. Lucky for you, we’re sharing alternatives to an open bar!

If you’re looking for a simple way to cut down on your wedding reception expenses, you’ll probably want to skip the open bar.

But if you don’t give your guests full access to a bar, what are your options for drinks? Check out these ideas below from our friends at Rock Paper Coin!

(PS – Are you a wedding pro? Use code SAVVY20 for 20% off their service!)

Affordable Alternatives to an Open Bar

Looking to keep the drinks flowing all day/night, but not sure if your budget can handle it? Depending on levels of alcohol you purchase, an open bar typically runs between $45 – $75 per person for a four hour reception. It can add up quickly! So below you’ll find a few fun and affordable alternatives to a traditional open bar that your guests and wallet will enjoy!

alternatives to an open bar - host a bubbly bar
Photo: Jessica Hill

Bubbly Bar​:

Bubbles don’t have to be reserved just for brunch, why not serve the celebratory drink at night too?! Have your bartenders pour or pass a glass of Prosecco (much less expensive than French champagne) for your guests and instruct them to visit the mixing station where they can find various juices, purees, and fresh fruit garnishes. Guests will love creating their own mimosa or Prosecco cocktail! Want something a little more on trend? Switch over to an Aperol Spritz Bar. Have the bartenders pour Prosecco and Aperol, let the guests top off with sparkling water and garnishes of their choice. Cheers!

alternatives to an open bar - keep it local by serving wine and beer from other breweries
Photo: Dylan Howell

Keep it Local​:

Skip the liquor all together and instead curate a bar menu featuring various microbreweries and vineyards from the region where you are getting married. On the menu, list the location where each of the beers and wines are produced. Guests will love trying the local favorites!

Photo: Ben Pigao

His and Hers​:

Another great alternatives to an open bar is to create two fun signature cocktails to channel your personalities. Make sure the cocktails include a different spirit to offer guests a little variety. On the menu tell a little story about why each of you selected the cocktail. Guests will love toasting with your favorite cocktail and knowing why!

Photo: Dylan Howell

A Cocktail Hour​:

Sticking to a true cocktail hour will allow you to host a traditional open bar for the hour between the ceremony and reception. Guests can order any and all types of drinks. Once guests sit down for dinner, switch the bar over to only beer and wine. Ask the catering staff to pour wine tableside for guests during dinner and no one will think twice. As an alternative to an open bar, this one is the best of both worlds.

Skip the Pricey Champagne

If you want to cut out an extra cost, you can skip the champagne toast and allow your guests to toast with whatever they are drinking that day. There are plenty of people who don’t love champagne anyway, so there’s no need to spend on something that folks aren’t even going to drink!


Nix the Open Bar to Save Money

We hope you found these alternatives to an open bar inspiring or helpful in considering the options for your wedding reception. Can you think of any other ways to save on your wedding alcohol?

This post was shared by the experienced planners behind Rock Paper Coin– a free electronic wedding binder to help keep your contracts, invoices and documents all in one place. Collaborate with your vendors, never miss a due date and spend more time toasting rather than stressing. Wedding planning has never been easier thanks to them! Sign up for free today!

Editor’s note: During this time of quarantine and social distancing, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Learn more here

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