Virginia wedding

Cost of Signature Cocktails vs. Open Bar at Your Wedding

There are delightful options for serving adult beverages at your celebration, some that cost way more than others.  But when comparing the prospective cost of an open bar versus serving signature cocktails, you can easily toast with splendor and style and save more than just a chunk of change.

Comparing Costs

An open bar for 170 guests can be almost $3,000.  Even if you break that down to about $16.50 per person, you are talking about spending at least $2,800.

Resting in the other hand, for a signature cocktail, you can expect $11 to $13 per guest.  That would then be a bill of $1,870 to $2,210.  That is a comfortable saving with the extra sparkle of your personal taste.

So you can ask yourself if you want to spend $2000 for another personalized detail at your celebration or $3000 for your guests to have whatever, whenever they want.

I’m very biased toward the former versus later in part because I am researching different signature cocktails that are circulating around the interweb, and they are delicious and beautiful.


Of course cocktails and open bars are not the only options, and some are much more affordable.  I’d like to tag on some other information I stumbled across as I was doing research on pricing, such as the expenses of having beer and wine only, a limited bar, and the classic champagne fountain.

Beer & Wine Only

Beer and wine tables can be beautiful and self serving.  If you serve, or rather, offer a beer and wine table or cart, you would be paying closer to $5 per person.  That would be more like $850 for 170 guests.

Limited Bar

Another option to an open bar is what is called a Limited Bar.  This would allow you to give options and tailor a menu.  Instead of having only one signature drink, you could offer a choice of different cocktails or the signature cocktail along with wine and beer.  This is a very social and thoughtful option but I could not find any breakdowns of pricing.

Champagne Fountain

A champagne fountain rented is $50 and champagne can range $1 to $3 per person.  So it would be $560 to rent and to have adequate champagne or as much as $810 to buy the fountain and splurge on a moderately more pricey champagne.  Cost depends on whether you rent or buy and if you want to pay $1.50 per glass or $3 per glass.

So here are the ballpark figures to help you consider what you want to spend before I begin plying signature cocktails and recipes on you in my next blog entry.

Open Bar = $3000,  Signature Cocktails = $2,000,  Beer/Wine = $850, Rental Champagne Fountain = $300 – $800


Open Bar = $16.50/per person, Signature Cocktails = $11 – $13/per person, Beer & Wine = $5/per person, and a Champagne Fountain = $1.50 – $3 per person for champagne + $55 to rent or up to $300 to buy

If you have found an ingenious way to reduce your bar bill, leave comments below!  Or if you enjoyed an exception signature cocktail, share!


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The author: Dawn Van Ness

Dawn Dickson Van Ness grew up at the beach and has published her work in print and online. With a BA in English and a MS in Mass Communications, she has used writing and multimedia to promote artists, art shows, writers, small businesses, and other self-employed individuals by building websites and maintaining social media pages. She feels most fulfilled when she is helping others achieve their dreams, which includes writing self-help and steps-to-success articles for various websites. It seems a natural fit for this wife and mother of two to write features that help soon-to-be wed couples. For more about Dawn, go to