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How to Set Up Your Wedding Bar

4 Steps to Putting Together the Perfect Wedding Bar

While we're totally on board for 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.

There are several things to take into account when creating your wedding-bar plan. Everyone's friends and family are a little different, so this plan should be taken as a baseline barometer since you know your guests best!

Step 1: Create a Budget

Similar to any other decision for the wedding, the first thing you'll need to do is set your budget. A general rule of thumb is one serving per guest per hour. So based on a wedding of about 100 guests that runs about five hours, you'll need 500 servings. Now, what those servings are made up of will dramatically affect your wallet, based on the below aspects.

Step 2: Know Your Audience

Does your family generally polish off a bottle of Scotch after Christmas? Or are they more on the conservative side, sticking to one glass of Chardonnay during hors d'oeuvres? These are big clues to consider when deciding what makes the most sense for your guests. In some instances, a full bar may not be needed, while for other groups, it would be a cardinal sin not to have whiskey within reach during a bridal bouquet throw.

Step 3: Decide Where and When

Your venue and season are huge factors in deciding the makeup of your bar. For example, outdoor Summer weddings generally call for more refreshing styles of drinks, such as Rosé and spritzers. An indoor Winter wedding should stock some bold red wines and old-fashioned cocktail ingredients. Lastly would be the actual time of day. If your wedding is in the evening, people tend to drink more once the sun goes down.

Step 4: Your Booze Breakdown

Once you've decided on all of the above factors, you can look into the components of the type of bar you'd like to create. We've put together three general options, using some fancy booze math — which is way more fun than regular math. Feel free to tweak and alter them to fit your crowd and style. Our breakdowns are based on 100 guests at a five-hour wedding on a Summer evening.

Overview:

  • 1 case of wine = 12 bottles
  • 1 bottle of wine = 4 servings
  • 1 beer = 1 serving
  • 1 bottle of liquor = 16 servings

Option Wine and Beer: 70 Percent Wine, 30 Percent Beer

  • 2 cases of Sparkling (recommendation: Prosecco or Cava)
  • 2 cases of White Wine (recommendation: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or steel-aged Chardonnay)
  • 1.5 cases of Rosé (recommendation: dry, Provence style)
  • 2 cases of Red Wine (Meritage/Red Blend or Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 150 beers (Pale Ale and a darker option)

Option Wine, Beer, and Light Bar: 50 Percent Wine, 20 Percent Beer, 30 Percent Liquor

  • 2 cases of Sparkling (recommendation: Prosecco or Cava)
  • 2 cases of White Wine (recommendation: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or steel-aged Chardonnay)
  • 1.5 cases of Rosé (recommendation: dry, Provence style)
  • 2 cases of Red Wine (Meritage/Red Blend or Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 100 beers (Pale Ale and a darker option)
  • 3 bottles of vodka
  • 3 bottles of gin
  • 4 bottles of whiskey

Option Wine, Beer, and Full Bar: 50 Percent Wine, 20 Percent Beer, 30 Percent Liquor

  • 2 cases of Sparkling (recommendation: Prosecco or Cava)
  • 2 cases of White Wine (recommendation: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or steel-aged Chardonnay)
  • 1.5 cases of Rosé (recommendation: dry, Provence style)
  • 2 cases of Red Wine (Meritage/Red Blend style or Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 100 beers (Pale Ale and a darker option)
  • 3 bottles of vodka
  • 3 bottles of gin
  • 4 bottles of whiskey
  • 1 bottle of rum
  • 1 bottle of tequila

No matter which option you go with, everyone's going to have an amazing time, so don't stress! Relax, and enjoy your wedding day to the fullest. Cheers!

Jacki Strum is the founder of ThirstyNest, a wine and spirits wedding registry site for couples who'd rather stock their home bar than register for china.

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