Expert advice for planning the perfect open bar

Updated: Mar 12, 2020

We are all for the newer trends in weddings – it’s your big day and why shouldn’t you make it uniquely your own? - that said, there is one wedding tradition that is almost universally required (well, aside from actually getting married) and that’s the open bar.


Champagne at a wedding

The majority of guests that attend weddings here in Bali expect alcohol to be served and to be readily available, they’ve all dressed up and travelled a long way to witness your big day and are probably going to want something to loosen them up before they hit the dance floor. While you have the option of a cash bar, most attendees consider it a burden to carry cash or cards to a wedding. Not to mention the bar tenders are already going to be busy enough making the drinks, without having to put through a transaction for every guest, having a cash bar will end up just slowing everything down and probably make for some grumpy guests.

Offering an open bar is seen as a courtesy, but how do you keep the costs under control?


Here are our expert tips to on when to serve, what to serve, how much to serve at an open bar at your Bali wedding.


wedding cocktails

How to come up with a budget for your open bar.

As with any wedding decision, having an open bar will require a well thought out budget. The general rule of thumb is to plan for one drink per person, per hour. If you have 50 people coming to your big day and it will be running from 5pm to midnight, then you’re going to require about 350 servings of alcohol. Once you have how many servings you will need, then it’s time to find out what drinks can be offered that helps you stay within your budget.


outdoor wedding bar

Know your guests.

Everyone is an individual, and everyone drinks at their own pace. For every large consumer of alcohol at your wedding there will be guests that sit on their one glass of wine for an hour or two. It’s a good idea for you and your fiancé (and even your wedding planner) to sit down and discuss the types of guests attending your wedding, how much they drink and also what they like to drink. If the majority of your guests prefer cocktails over beer, then this will have a big impact on your open bar budget.



Timing is everything.

The average wedding goes for around 7 hours, so depending on how generous your bar budget is, it will have a determining factor on when the bar opens. Some weddings like to open the bar straight away, some offer a non-alcoholic welcome drink, others will refrain until after the ceremony. Whatever you choose, just make sure it is in-line with your budget.


wine at a wedding

How can you reduce costs?

For a destination wedding guests are generally not obliged to give wedding gifts, but as an alternative, you can ask your guests to bring a bottle of Champagne with them duty free to have during the toasts. Champagne in Bali is quite expensive so if you are wanting to have it at your wedding then it is a great cost cutting idea. Just remember to check with the venue or caterer that this is allowed.

Other options to help keep costs within budget is to only offer wine during the dinner service, or only having a few key cocktails that your guests get to choose from.



While there are no hard and fast rules to an open bar, considering the above pointers can help keep your budget under control. Hiring a wedding planner to help with beverage requirements on the day is another great way to keep you in budget too, remember that they have access to the best deals from suppliers and can help you with your drink choices too.

At the end of the day you know your family and friends the best and no matter what you end up choosing, everyone is going to have an amazing time!

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