While we’re totally on board with making your wedding yours, the one thing that’s almost universally necessary is an open bar. Think of it like Field of Dreams: If you open bar it, they will come… and have a good time. We reached out to ThirstyNest, the first ever wine and spirits wedding registry, for their advice on creating the perfect wedding bar. There are several things to take into account when making your wedding bar plan. Everyone’s friends and family are a little different, so this guide should be taken as a baseline barometer since you know your guests best!
Step 1: Create a budget. Similar to any other decision for your wedding, the first step is to set your overall budget. How much do you want to spend on an open bar? A good general rule of thumb is one serving per guest per hour. So, based on a wedding of about 100 guests that runs about 4 hours, you’ll need 400 servings. Your budget will determine what those servings are made up of.
Step 2: Know your audience. Does your family generally polish off a bottle of bourbon after Thanksgiving? Or are they more on the conservative side, sticking to a glass of white wine during hors d’oeuvres? Use these habits as a clue when considering what type of bar makes the most sense for your guests. With some groups, a full bar might not be necessary, while for others, it would be a cardinal sin not to have whiskey with the bridal bouquet throw.
Step 3: Decide where and when. Your venue and the season are big factors when determining the makeup of your bar. For example, an outdoor summer wedding would call for a more refreshing drink menu, such as chilled rosé and spritzers. On the other hand, an indoor winter wedding should stock more cozy choices, like bold red wines and Old Fashioned cocktail ingredients. Also take into account the actual time of day. Keep in mind that if you’re having an evening wedding, your guests will likely drink more once the sun goes down.
Step 4: Do the math. Once you’ve made decisions on all of the above factors, you can look into the components of the type of bar you’d like to create. It’s time for some fancy booze-math, which is way more fun than regular math. Generally, one bottle of wine equals four servings, one beer equals one serving, and one bottle of liquor will get you 16 servings. If you wanted to do 50 percent wine, 20 percent beer, and 30 percent liquor (full bar) for 100 guests at a five-hour wedding, you’d need five cases of wine, 100 beers, and 12 bottles of spirits. Within each category, break it down based on what your guests will enjoy most. We always suggest having rosé and sparkling, white, and red wines on hand; a pale ale-style beer along with a darker option; and a variety of spirits with a focus on vodka, gin, and whiskey.
Overall, no matter which option you go with, all of your guests will have an amazing time. They’re there to celebrate your wedding with you, so don’t stress. Relax, and enjoy your wedding day to the fullest. Cheers!
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