One of the hardest parts of planning the reception is planning how much alcohol to have. If alcohol is important for your big day, the count will depend on how many guests you plan to have, how much these guests tend to drink, is this an open bar, does your venue hold the proper liquor licenses to serve hard alcohol, etc.
First, let’s mention a few of our favorite tips to consider before we dive into bar options.
The time and day of the week of your wedding will influence the amount of alcohol people will want to drink. For example, attendees at a Friday night wedding will most likely drink much more than attendees at a Sunday brunch wedding. Also, if you know that your family can and will drink a lot of wine but will shy away from hard liquor, you should plan to have less hard liquor (if any at all) and more wine to compensate.
Let’s talk about the wedding environment you’re hoping to have. If you’re planning to have a classy, formal affair you’ll probably shy away from having an open bar so that people don’t get overly rowdy. OR if you want to ensure there’s ample alcohol to go around but also stay within a reasonable budget, opting for beer and wine only is a cheaper alternative. You can also offer limited options to avoid buying many different kinds of alcohols. When offering limited options, remember that you don’t need to cater to everyone’s preferences. After all, this is your wedding and the spirits you choose to serve should reflect your personalities in addition to what your friends and family enjoy.
An open bar is when the bride and groom prepay for their guests to enjoy unlimited drinks for the duration for which the bar is paid for. This is the most expensive bar option for your wedding because you will need to have many different types of alcohols and mixers as well as an experienced bartender who will serve your guests drinks.
A cash bar is where you have a fully hosted bar but instead of you paying for the drinks, the guests pay for the drinks as they consume them. Many couples choose to have a cash bar in addition to providing champagne and wine for toasts and dinner so that they are not responsible for footing the entire alcohol bill.
The Signature Cocktail
Having a signature cocktail is becoming a more prevalent option in modern weddings today. If your wedding has an overall theme, having a cocktail to go along with it is a fun addition. It’s also a cheaper alternative as you’ll get to buy in bulk.
A limited bar is when the bride and groom pay for all of the alcohol, but serve only a limited number of types of drinks so that they don’t need to pay for a bunch of different kinds of alcohol.
Now that you have decided to purchase your own alcohol for your wedding, you’ll need to take to make sure you have a successful bar:
Determine the quantity to purchase
The amount of each alcohol you buy depends on the number of guests you’ll have and when you want to serve drinks. However, the actual amount that will be consumed is impossible to predict and it’s better to have extra than not enough.
A good rule of thumb for the amount of beer, wine and liquor to buy is to assume each guest will consume about two drinks for the cocktail hour and one drink per hour every hour after that. You’ll need to calculate how much of each item you’ll need.
From our friends who own bars around the city, DSE learned that. if you have 100 guests, purchasing 7 cases of beer (24 bottles per case = 168 bottles) will most likely be more than sufficient as not everyone will want to drink beer. In general, evening receptions tend to consume more red wine than white wine. Each bottle of wine is 5 glasses of wine, so if you think your guests will consume red and white wine evenly then 12 bottles of each (one case each) will be sufficient (5 glasses per bottle x 24 bottles = 120 glasses). Of course, if you know your guests are big wine drinkers you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
Remember that this is your wedding and your guests will appreciate whatever drinks you offer them for free– Drink up!
xo, Dayna J