Let's talk about booze! Most people love a drink... or 6 every now and then! But bar service can be an overwhelming topic for many of our couples. How much should they provide? What sort of drinks do they need to offer? Do they need a signature drink? The questions go on and on... So we thought it would be a great idea to help break it down for you, so there is no need to stress.
What to Offer?
A lot of the time what you want to offer to your guests depends on where you are having the wedding and how much you can afford. If it is an outdoor tented wedding for example, we tend to err on the side of simplicity. No need to offer "apple martini's with a twist on the rocks" in that situation (or any situation really!). It is absolutely acceptable to only offer beer and wine to your guests if you want to keep it simple. They should be happy to have an open bar anyway! Offering one or two signature drinks is also a great choice if you want to offer spirits in a more cost-effective way. Remember that you are welcome to completely customize your bar service to suit your yourselves, your venue, and your guests. Most venues are happy to be flexible to your level of bar service as well, whether you want top shelf or just beer and wine.
We find that it is super helpful to think of your bar service in zones: Cocktail reception, Dinner, and Post-dinner Party, are the 3 most common. You can offer different levels of bar service for each, with the most important thing being to make sure that whatever you are offering, is clear to your guests. A typical wedding would expect approximately 6 drinks per person throughout the celebration, with 2 drinks per guest per zone. So for example, Cocktail hour you could offer a glass of passed champagne and the rest of your portions would be split between beer and wine. Dinner is often wine service at the tables, and then the Post-dinner Party could be some more wine, beer, and add spirits if you so choose.
To calculate the amount you need you should remember:
- 750 mL bottle of wine = 5 glasses
- 750 mL bottle of champagne = 6 flutes
- 750 mL bottle of spirits = 17 drinks
- 1.14 L bottle of spirits = 25 drinks
It is always best to over-purchase your amounts to make sure you don't run out, because you can return any unused/unopened bottles as long as you keep the receipts!
More Helpful Bar Tips:
- Use a fancier bottle of wine for your dinner table wines, and a house wine for behind the bar.
- Purchase a beer keg to save on recycling and get more bang for your buck!
- Hire your bartender through your caterer to keep everything streamlined. If the bar get's busy then servers can step in and vice versa.
- No need to put out a tip jar for your bartender, as you will be tipping your service staff through your caterer's service fee already.
- Ask your venue to notify you when the bar bill reaches a certain amount to avoid any surprises!
- Offer lots of water and non-alcoholic drinks as well.
- Keep your guests fed! A late night snack is a great idea to prevent overindulgence and soak up some of that booze.
- Make sure someone is in charge of bringing the ice, there is nothing worse than warm beer.
- Don't forget about recycling! Especially if it is an outdoor wedding, make sure there are recycling bins so that nothing gets left behind.