Weddings are expensive — everybody knows that. But there are a million different ways to save and stretch a budget. Most people start by nixing the open bar. From the beginning, my fiancé and I knew there was no way we were going to do that. Here's why.
1. An open bar matches the style of our wedding.
Our wedding is traditional and pretty darn fancy. Even though we're getting married outside, my maid of honor describes it as, "the most elegant garden party you could ever image." (Thanks, girl!) To me, an open bar matches the style of our wedding. It came down to a feeling—I wanted to keep the mood a certain way.
We opted to save money in other places and left the open bar intact so the atmosphere of the day stays consistent. Plain white cotton tablecloths vs. "premium" tablecloths? No one will notice. No vodka tonic? Cue sad face emoticon.
2. An open bar appeals to more guests.
Since we're getting married at a vineyard we could have easily done the "wine and beer only" thing with a signature cocktail but I knew there would be grievances. After all, people love to complain about weddings: The ceremony was long; my steak was cold; the DJ was too loud.
At our wedding, there will be at least two aunts who only drink scotch, a cousin who's a strict vodka drinker and, of course, the big question mark that is the guests I don't know super well. The bottom line is, an open bar appeals to more guests. There's something for everyone.
3. Weddings are expensive for guests, too.
I know I'm not the only one shelling out for this wedding. Guests are paying for travel, hotel rooms, maybe a new outfit or a gift—it's expensive for them, too. So while I'm not saying you should bribe guests with booze, I do think an open bar is a subtle way to say thank you and make them feel taken care of after contributing to the day in their own way.
4. Because it is friendlier to dietary needs.
More and more guests have dietary restrictions that extend beyond the plate. Our gluten-free guests can't do beer. A few people can't drink wine. Does that Mai Tai have pineapple juice in it? Because, if so, you just poisoned Cera! An open bar means everyone can make their own choices, get their drink on safely and I don't have to worry about poisoning guests. There's something to be said about peace of mind.
5. Also! An open bar doesn't have to break the budget.
There's more than one way to have an open bar. Just because you're graciously opening up the proverbial liquor cabinet to your guests doesn't mean you have to go ALL out!
3 Ways to Keep an Open Bar in Budget
Here are a few things to keep in mind (and keep the budget in check):
- You don't have to offer multiple brands of the same liquor.
- You don't have to offer top-shelf brands of that liquor.
- You can ask your caterer or venue about supplying the liquor yourself, meaning you can scope out deals and wholesale supply stores for the best prices. (Keep in mind, it may be more affordable to buy through your caterer but it never hurts to do your homework.)
My fiancé and I are life-long hosts. We love to entertain. We love throwing a party. For us, an open bar is a no-brainer. Every wedding is a unique snowflake, maybe an open bar isn't right for you but it's good to know yourself, your audience and your options.
Like I said, guests will always complain about something. But at our wedding, they won't be complaining about the booze...