There is so much that goes into providing your own bar service for your wedding day vs. hiring a company or using your catering company (if they offer bar and bartending services). First things first…ask your venue if they even allow you to bring in outside product, some do but some venues require that you use their in house bar services. If you can bring in your own, here is a general list of things you need to think about.
-Liquor, Beer and Wine-You may just be offering beer and wine or you may be offering all. This will alter your list from here on. Think about your guests, what are crowd favorites among those who will be attending your day? You may want to adjust what you provide based on this fact. Also, when considering quantities, you will want to know if in general your guests are light drinkers, moderate drinkers or heavy drinkers. Calculating the quantity of how much you need also depends on how many hours your guests will be drinking. If you are ordering all of your beer, wine and/or liquor from a local liquor store, ask your catering company if they provide a service where they will pick it up. If so, this will save you tons of time the day of your wedding. And let’s be honest, you won’t have the extra time on your wedding day!
-Bartenders-You will need someone to actually run the bar and make sure that your bartenders have their ABC license. Also, you will want to provide 1 bartender for approximately every 75 guests that you have in attendance.
-Mixers-Depending on whether you are providing liquor or not, you will need ample mixers. Also, make sure that your catering company is providing a beverage station throughout the evening if you have a buffet, appetizers or stations. If you are have a plated dinner, think about your guests that do not drink and have some bottled water and extra soda behind the bar for them once dinner service is over.
-Garnishes-Lemons, limes, oranges, cherries, mint, olives and any other garnishes you need for specific drinks you would like to offer.
-Ice-Ice, ice and more ice! You will need ice for mixed drinks as well as ice for chilling beer and wine. Sometimes the venue will provide bagged ice for an additional fee so make sure to ask. This will save lots of worry trying to buy and deliver ice a few hours prior to your reception so it doesn’t melt! The quantity of ice you need will vary depending on your guest count, the drinks you are offering and your venue (for example, if it is summer and you are outside you will need a lot more)!
-Cups, Napkins and Straws-You will need to either rent glassware for the bar or purchase plastic cups for the bar. Don’t forget beverage napkins, drink stirrers and straws for the bar as well.
-Storage-You will need coolers or buckets to ice down beer and wine along with beverage tins to serve fresh ice out of. Don’t forget, if you are providing batch cocktails/signature drinks to provide beverage dispensers for these to be prepared and served out of.
-Bar Tools-This should be something that your bartenders provide but make sure to ask ahead of time! You will need bottle openers, wine openers, strainers, cutting board and knife for fruit, jiggers, etc.
-A BAR! – This may slip your mind when ordering everything you need from your rental company but make sure to rent a bar for your wedding day! If you don’t have the budget, make sure to order a bar kit that will include tables and linen to create your own bar for your big day. You can disregard if your venue already has a built in bar and spend this money elsewhere!
As you can see, there are a lot of factors that go into providing your own bar for your special day. It’s not as easy as just purchasing the liquor, beer and wine. Weigh the pros and cons of providing your own bar before deciding whether you want to hire a company or not. Yes, it may save you money in the end but do you have the time and resources to plan for this and get everything delivered the day of your wedding? For more information on wedding bars, keep an eye on our blog for future posts featuring more specific details on quantities of what you need based on your guest count.