Creating a DIY Wedding Reception Bar

Posted by: Dareth Colburn

DIY wedding bar

If you’re planning your wedding reception at a location where you’ll be the one making the bar arrangements, it can be a mind boggling task. And if you’re planning to set up a DIY reception bar where you’ll be responsible for everything, it’s even worse. You may be blindsided by questions like:

* How much liquor should you buy?
* What kind do you buy?
* Can you return the unopened liquor?

Yikes, right? But figuring out the answers is worth it if you have the ability to stock your own bar because DIYing it can save you lots of money! Here are some great tips we’ve found for brides-to-be and grooms who are creating their own wedding reception bars or working with an outside distributor to bring bar drinks to an otherwise dry reception space:

1. Choose a reputable company that will consult with you and help you select the right wines, champagne, etc. for your guest list and menu. In addition, be sure they don’t charge for delivery and most importantly, that they will credit you for any unopened wine and spirits.

2. Think about your guests, are they beer, wine, or hard liquor drinkers? This will help you to determine quantities. Remember, the choice is up to you as to what you serve. Maybe you want to have a cocktail reception with just beer and wine. Maybe you want to serve a specialty drink like a Mimosa or Bloody Mary for a early afternoon reception.

3. If you’re having a champagne toast, find out if the guests will see the champagne being poured. If not, it’s a good place to save some money by selecting an inexpensive brand, since most people just sip for the toast! It may enable you to spend a bit more on the wines you’ll be serving with dinner.

4. Set a budget for liquor. A good liquor company will work with you to stay within your means. There are thousands of wine choices at different price points, so you can find one to fit your budget. In addition, you can choose between “top shelf” liquors or “house pour” liquors (i.e. Absolut vs. Smirnoff).

5. When trying to determine how much to buy, you should ask the company you select to provide the alcohol, to make recommendations and help you to determine the appropriate amounts.

6. Be creative – instead of offering your wedding guests the typical run of beers, try to include some of the newer micro-brewed beers. You can still offer the old stand-by’s for those guests who are committed to “their” brands, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the feedback you’ll receive on being somewhat adventuresome!

7. Consider an international coffee bar during the dessert hour. If you do, you’ll want to be sure to serve Kahlua, Bailey’s, Tia Maria, Grand Marnier and other cordials that your guests will enjoy with coffee.

8. Check into liquor liability coverage. Does your caterer provide coverage? If so, find out how much. You may find that the hall carries some coverage and it will be important to determine their role.

The best part about putting together your own DIY wedding reception bar is that you can save a tremendous amount of money! Brides and grooms can keep their costs low, often under $5 per person for the entire evening! Not bad when you consider what it would cost at a hotel!

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