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Open Bar? Cash Bar? Modified Bar? Oh My!

Creating the bar that is the best for your event and your budget can be one of the hardest planning aspects of your event, but don’t fret! The main thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way. Every event is different and many factors can contribute to your decision including the time of event, the venue, the budget, the guest list, the theme, the occasion, and of course, your preferences.  You are not constrained to just a straight open bar or cash bar; there are many options. Consider the following options or modify and create your own scenario or combination:

  • Open bar for cocktail/social hour with a cash bar for the rest of
    the event.
  • Open bar for just beer and wine with cash bar for anything else. Offer a modified bar.
  • Beer and wine and a few signature cocktails, just beer and a limited bar, or just wine and cocktails, etc.
  • Pay for a champagne toast (or just a round of drinks) with a cash bar to follow.

When planning the bar for your event take into consideration the pros and cons of open bars versus cash bars.

  • Meet expectations
  • Appear to be better host; Giving back to attendees
  • Classy
  • Party can be more fun
  • Faster service at the bar


  • Expensive
  • Over Indulgers
  • Venue may have restrictions
  • Guests can take advantage
  • Can be a distraction
  • Liability


  • More affordable
  • Gives guests choices
  • More controlled
  • Drinking often limited, less commotion due to drunk people
  • Less liabiliy


  • Can appear as tacky or cheap
  • Party typically ends earlier
  • Slower service at the bar
  • Can be hassle for guests