Bar Tab VS Beverage Package – Which is Better?

Bar Tab VS Beverage Package – Which is Better?

When planning a wedding or other significant event, the right catering at the right price is always a top priority. When it comes to drinks, different venues have different packages and options available to suit a variety of requirements. You will often come across bar packages or a payment system of drinks on consumption (bar tab). Barlens is a trusted choice for high quality wedding marquee hire, and we have been a part of thousands of weddings and events over the decades. Here we will outline the common beverage options so that you can decide which might be the best choice for your function.

Beverage Package

Typically, available in a range of options to suit different budgets, a package generally allows for a particular array of drinks that will be served to your guests for a set period of time. For example, you would normally choose one of each of the following: a heavy beer, a light beer, a sparkling wine, a white wine varietal, a red wine varietal and a selection of soft drinks. You can choose to have the drinks served continually for 2,3 or 4 hours depending on the duration of your event. You will often have the choice of a standard package or a premium package which may include higher quality wines or craft beers. Some venues even offer packages which include basic spirits and cocktails, and most packages can be tailored to suit your needs.


- You know the price upfront.

- Your guests will receive unlimited beverages within a set time frame.

- It gives you control over what is served and for how long.

- It removes the hassle of monitoring a bar tab throughout the event.


- You must pay a set amount of money per guest - if guests don’t show up or you have a few attendees that don’t consume any alcohol, you are still obligated to pay for those guests.

- Your guests are restricted by what they can drink – this may be a problem for those who do not drink beer or wine.

Bar Tab

Some venues prefer you to utilise a bar tab. This means that guests are free to order beverages as they please, and each drink is added to a tally that is calculated and must be paid at the end of the event. Most venues will set a minimum spend; this amount is the minimum amount that you must reach on the bar during the function. Many event planners will organise with the venue to customise drinks on the tab and restrict drink purchases to beer, wine, sparkling wine, and soft drinks. In some cases, you can choose an ‘open bar’ which means guests can order any drink including spirits, shots, and cocktails. With a bar tab, you can choose to put down a certain amount and when it runs out guests must purchase their own drinks. Alternatively, you can keep adding to it throughout the event.


- You only pay for what your guests drink.

- There isn’t any set time limit on free drinks for your guests.

- You can check the bar amount at different times throughout the night and add to it if necessary. If you are a long way from reaching the minimum spend you can add other drinks, such as basic spirits, to the tab.


- Failing to monitor the tab may result in a huge bill at the end of the event.

- If you don’t reach the minimum spend, you are still obliged to pay that amount. If your guests drink $2,000 worth of drinks and your minimum spend is $3,000 then you will need to pay the extra $1000 to the venue.

- Monitoring the tab may not allow you to relax and enjoy the event.

Which Should You Choose?

To find out which might suit you best, ask yourself the below questions:

- Do you want to know exactly how much it is going to cost in advance?

- Are you likely to have many no-shows?

- Are your guests fussy about their drinks?

- Will most of your guests drink heavily? or are most likely to just have a few?

- How many non-drinkers will be in attendance?

- Do you want everything to be organised prior to the event?

If many of your guests don’t indulge in alcohol or are likely to just have one or two, a bar tab might be better just as long as the minimum spend isn’t too high. Similarly, if you have some guests that are unlikely to show up, a tab would be best. If you prefer to be in control of your budget and have everything organised and paid for prior to the event a beverage package would be the ideal choice. Whichever option you choose, communicate your decision with your venue to avoid any issues during the event.

Need Marquee Hire for Your Next Event?

If you are planning a wedding, party or other event, marquee hire is the perfect solution. Available in a range of sizes to accommodate intimate gatherings or large-scale soirees, marquees provide a blank canvas for you to make the event truly unique to you. To enquire about our wedding marquee hire, get in touch with our team online or by calling 02 6206 2020 / 02 6043 0605 today.

Barlens Canberra
67 Gladstone St, Fyshwick ACT 2609
T 02 6206 2020

Barlens Albury
234 Kiewa Street, South Albury NSW 2640
T 02 6043 0605