If you are thinking of hosting your own bar at your reception, congratulations! You are well on your way to saving potentially hundreds of dollars that you can otherwise spend elsewhere. Before you tempt the idea of hosting your own bar, you will have to consider these things:
- Will the venue allow for you to have your own open bar? Or do they have one that you must use?
- You will probably need to obtain a liquor license in order to serve alcohol in a reception venue. Will you be able to obtain one?
- Unless someone you know of is a bartender, you will have to hire one on yourself. There are a lot of “freelance” bartenders on there, check out local ads in newspapers, online, or even visit a few bars and see if any of their bartenders are interested.
If you have all of those things covered, then it’s time to start thinking about how much alcohol you will need for your guests. Experienced wedding bartenders will be able to give you a pretty good idea of how much you’ll need of what, but it’s still a good idea to prepare yourself mentally and financially for the costs. What you will generally need are as follows:
- Beer: 5-6 Cases
- Red wine: 2 cases
- White wine: 3.5 cases
- Gin: 2-3 liters
- Scotch: 2 liters
- Tequila: 1 liter
- Rum: 1 liter
- Whiskey: 1 liter
- Bourbon: 1 liter
- Dry vermouth: 1 bottle
- Sweet vermouth: 1 bottle
- OPTIONAL: Champagne: 1-2 cases
The amount of liquor listed above is an average need for a 100 guest reception. Different factors should be taken into consideration, such as how many people actually drink alcohol. There are some families who do not drink, or who may only have a glass of wine or champagne for your toast. Then there are other families who are reputable drinkers who you know will probably well exceed the alcohol listed above. For instance, if your side of the family just can’t seem to get enough of scotch, consider adding on an extra liter or two.
Here’s something else to consider: What kind of bar are you going to have? While the “open bar” is still the most popular form, as expenses rise, brides and grooms are looking at other alternatives. Some alternatives include:
- The Limited Bar: This usually includes all you can drink beer and wine, and maybe one mixed drink or a signature cocktail. You can also limit the time in which this alcohol is served, such as offering it only during cocktail hour, during toasts, and for an hour after dinner. Another option that many brides and grooms are choosing is to have servers serve the drinks to people directly so they can’t simply go up to the bar and get as much as they want
- The Ticket Bar: You can hand out a set number of tickets to each guest per night, with each ticket representing one drink. Two to three tickets is usually a fair quantity. If anyone wants any more than that, then the expense is on them.