5 Tips for Planning the Bar at the Wedding Reception

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wedding barLike any party, the entertainment, food and cocktails can either make or break your wedding reception.  In the past I’ve written about the art of having good entertainment and wedding food, so for today’s post I’ll be tackling the booze.  Specifically, I’ve got 5 tips for making sure you have the best bar possible at the reception.

First and foremost, make sure you have enough to go around.  Drinking tends to be heavier at weddings compared to other affairs, and if the well runs dry before it’s over it’ll ruin or at best taint everyone’s perception of your big day.  A good rule of thumb is to plan for 4-5 drinks for every legally-aged guest, just to be safe.

Similarly, I recommend doing an open bar.  Most wedding guests will expect this, and if you really want to have a fun party then I’d say this is pretty much mandatory.  If you’re concerned about blowing your wedding budget out of the water, consider limiting the options (beer, wine, and a few staple hard liquors), or lowering the duration of the open bar from, say, 5 to 4 hours.

Another tip is to make sure the bar is accessible.  Many venues will allow for 2 bars, one at each end of the room, which is ideal.  But even if only one bar is possible, it’ll be fine as long as it is in a somewhat open area near the festivities.  Avoid stuffing the bar in a separate room or confined space.  Your guests will certainly not want to wait in line in a constricted area, nor should they.

Fourth, always make sure the bar (or bars) is staffed by professional bartenders.  There’s nothing worse than bars that are “staffed” by a friend or relative of the bride or groom.  Normally the venue or the catering company will provide this staffing, but not always so it’s important to ask the question.  It’s probably also a good idea to make sure the staffers are legitimate bartenders and not glorified waiters.

Finally, consider creating your own custom or signature cocktail for the big day.  For example, if it’s a beach wedding then a frozen tropical drink with fruit and an umbrella would be appropriate.  For a Christmas wedding, an enhanced eggnog concoction would be a nice touch.  For a garden wedding, a crème de mint cocktail would go well with the overall ambiance.  For a fall wedding, a customized alcoholic cider drink would work well.  And I could go on and on but hopefully you get the point.  Use your imagination and creativity, and try to instill your personality into the signature cocktail.  And by all means, make sure you also offer a non-alcoholic version.

In the final analysis, any party is lame without proper bar planning.  Like it or not, booze is part of the “big 3” of what you will always need to pull off a fabulous party (entertainment / music and the food are the other two).  So do not take this decision lightly.  When it comes to the booze, the best weddings have a professionally-staffed open bar that is easily accessible, with plenty to go around including your very own signature cocktail.  Follow these simple tips and you’ll be good to go…just don’t blow it by having a crappy DJ!  Good luck!

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