Open bar or no open bar? That is the question!

It’s no secret that weddings can be a costly business, but unfortunately, there’s often little room to cut costs.The honeymoon, the venue hire and the wedding food are usually the biggest but most essential expenses on the big day So  couples often try to find savings elsewhere, within optional extras and wedding favours or stationery.


An open bar is seen as one such optional extra by many. Should it be a bill you pay, or should guests have to dig into their own pockets to buy drinks on the day?

Do guests expect an open bar?

Opinion about whether weddings should have open bars is likely to vary considerably, particularly when speaking to those planning a wedding and those attending one. According to a recent survey by Bridebook, an open bar is one of the first things left off the to-do list by couples as Stylist reported:

“Compared to previous generations, couples have endless options about where and how to host a wedding, meaning they are faced with hard decisions about what outlays to prioritise. And according to founder Hamish Shephard it means that alcohol is an easy sacrifice as it’s one of the few cuts which can be made last minute, without changing the image of the day.”

Whilst most think it’s fair to offer a drink for the toast and another drink over dinner, providing free drinks throughout is considered an expensive and unnecessary no-no, particularly at UK weddings.

ChampagneShould you tell guests about your cash-only policy?

Whether an open bar is expected tends to vary from generation to generation, with younger guests not even considering it an option. Older guests, used to the more traditional way of doing things, may be a little surprised by your cash-only choice. Informing your guests that they need to fund their own drinking activities is recommended and it doesn’t have to be impolite or difficult. Many couples choose to add a quick line like “full cash bar available” to their invites for clarity. Further details, i.e. if your wedding venue doesn’t take card and the nearest cash machine is a million miles away, may be worth adding to ensure your guests are fully prepared.

Remember it’s your choice

There’s no right or wrong answer about whether to host an open bar or cash bar. Those planning an intimate wedding may want to treat guests, whereas those on a budget or with a never-ending guest list may have other ideas.

At Clearwell Castle, we let you decide. Hosting an open bar or full cash bar are both options. Our all-inclusive wedding package also includes a choice of cocktails and classic welcome drinks, a choice of tea and coffee with your sit-down meal, and a glass of sparkling wine for each of your guests for the speeches. You can find out more about our bespoke wedding packages here.

If you have any questions relating to having your wedding at Clearwell Castle, please don't hesitate to call Charlotte via the contact details below:


T: 01594 832 320

Explore our stunning wedding venue with either a private on-site viewing or virtual tour...Book a viewing