Wedding Bar Bill Top Tips - Cornerstone Canmore

The question we get asked the most is “how much will my wedding bar bill be?”
While we can’t give you a specific amount, we can provide you with information to help form a good estimate while planning your big day.

What Are the Most Popular Wedding Bar Services?

While many venues will offer you the bar services below, it is highly recommended to check with your venue before you book to ensure they can meet your needs.

Open/Host Bar – all drinks are free for guests, and the couple pays the bar bill

Toonie Bar – all guests pay a toonie for their drinks, and the couple pays the price difference

Cash Bar – guests are responsible for paying for their drinks

Drink Tickets – you provide your guests with a certain quantity of drink tickets. These are paid for by the couple (typically 2-3). Additional drinks exceeding tickets are paid for with cash.

Pros and Cons

Open Bar Pros
An open or host bar is the most generous way of saying thank you to your guests and ensuring everyone has a memorable time.
Your guests will have an outstanding evening reception, and after they recover, they’ll certainly remember your generosity. Also, this option places all guests on equal footing bill wise, allowing them to let their hair down and party. An open bar can be a benefit if your venue is particularly expensive, meaning that some guests may not be able to afford to drink. It’s also a great thank you for destination wedding guests, whose expenses are higher than attending a hometown wedding.

Open Bar Cons
Open bars are likely to result in the largest bar bill you will ever see! Guests can get carried away and order rounds of drinks (on average 6-7 a head) at the bar without any thought given to where the eventual expense goes.

Open Bar Bill Estimate
Based on experience we would estimate 6-8 drinks per person if you are allowing shots and 6-7 excluding them. Base the cost per drink on the average drink price available. Remember to check who is responsible for the gratuity and how much it is. Ask if you can exclude premium or top shelf liquor if this is important to you.

Toonie Bar Pros
The toonie bar is the most popular option at Cornerstone Theatre. It is a nice balance between an open bar and a cash bar.
Guests are only paying a nominal amount so can drink freely and have a great time.
As they are paying something for their drink, they are more likely to be considerate and not over order or ‘lose’ their drink.

Toonie Bar Cons
Guests are still only paying $2 per drink, so they will still drink more than a full cash bar (but less than an open bar)

Toonie Bar Bill Estimate
Our estimate for a toonie bar is 5-7 drinks per person if you are allowing shots and 5-6 excluding them. Remember to check what drinks are available to your guests and what your cost portion will be.

Cash Bar
For couples on a strict budget, this is the best option. Although you may want to offer your guests free drinks, if your budget doesn’t allow it, we suggest offering a cash bar.
If you have a minimum food and beverage, spend, for a cash bar, plan to estimate 4-5 drinks per person.

Some Things to Remember

While the information above is a great tool to assist you with picking the right bar service, we must add this disclaimer: only you know your wedding guests. Things like age, tastes, and of course, how many are attending will impacting the overall price. An older crowd may not drink as much, whereas a crowd in their 20’s and 30’s will stay longer and drink throughout the night.
One final thing to take into consideration is how expensive the tastes of your guests are. When planning, bear in mind that certain brands are more costly, and so naturally, the more of them ordered, the higher your bill will be. That said, there are plenty of options to choose from, so there’s no need to feel like you have to forgo one particular spirit entirely (unless you wish to).
Planning bar service at a wedding can feel tricky, and at times overwhelming. We’re happy to provide you with more information regarding our wedding services, including bar options. Contact us to day to discover what your perfect day at Cornerstone looks like.