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What To Consider When Having An Open Wine Bar At Your Wedding

What To Consider When Having An Open Wine Bar At Your Wedding

iLoveWine Staff

A wedding is a memorable occasion, and there is no better way to celebrate it than with a bit of alcohol. Getting inebriated puts people’s inhibitions down, making them more open for a bit of conversation, dancing, and all-out partying.

You need to enliven your guests at your wedding reception, so you may be thinking of getting an open wine bar to heighten the fun and excitement. It is an ultimate treat for guests since they get to have the fill of their favorite liquor.

Remember that a huge chunk of your food budget will likely go to the bar, so it’s essential to determine how much wine you should get, and think carefully about your options before choosing a service provider.

The following are some things to consider when having an open wine bar at your wedding:

  1. Professional bar or do-it-yourself bar

You can opt for a professional bar or a DIY bar depending on your venue’s protocol. If you want something low maintenance, going for a bar that’s going to be run by professional services is a good choice. Although alcohol and other service fees will be marked up, this offers great convenience for the bride and groom who don’t want to micromanage their wedding reception.

If you want to go the DIY route, you may create a bar yourself. You have a free choice of what beverages to buy. Even if it is a bar you will put up on your own, you still have to get a professional or two who will tend the bar and serve your guests.

If you find yourself torn between a DIY or a professional bar, get a bartending service that provides a bartender, rentals, setup, and cleanup.

  1. Bar style

There are different bar styles you can adopt for your wedding reception, and it is up to you to choose based on your budget and preferences.

  • Open Bar – This is a popular bar style wherein the host pays for each drink their guests consume. Guests have the freedom to drink as much as they like. An open bar usually has servings of wine, beer, and champagne.
  • Consumption Bar – In a consumption bar, the wedding hosts pay for the drinks the guests consume when the wedding event ends. Only the drinks the guests have ordered will be paid for.
  • Soft Bar – This bar has a limited selection of beverages. It normally has red and white wine only.
  • White Bar – As the name suggests, a white bar offers only white beverages, such as vodka, gin, white rum, and white wine.
  • Dry Bar – If you or your guests are teetotallers, consider a dry bar instead. Simply offer a mix of non-alcoholic beverages, such as soda, tea, and juice.
  1. Amount of alcohol to buy

You must have an idea on how much alcohol to buy. This is especially important if you are going to put up a DIY bar. You have to get an average of how much each guest may consume throughout the duration of your reception. Some guests may drink more, while some, less. One drink per hour per guest is a good estimate. As an example, for a six-hour wedding reception with 100 guests, you’ll need to prepare 600 drinks.

If you are in doubt of your estimate, you can go through your list and determine how much each person usually drinks, then you can adjust the amounts of wine and alcohol accordingly. If you want to be sure, you can always overestimate to make sure everyone will be catered to satisfactorily.


  1. Additional costs that will factor in your budget
  • Corkage fee

If you plan to DIY, you may have to shell out a corkage fee so you can bring your own alcohol to the event’s venue. The corkage fee can add up really quickly, so be sure to make an estimate of the overall costs. Make certain that the corkage fee is clearly stated in your contract before signing in order to avoid unnecessary stress in the form of surprise expenses you’re not prepared to pay for.

  • Insurance

You will need insurance in case an alcohol-related accident happens at your wedding party. Be sure that you have insurance for any liability. If the caterer or venue has insurance, that coverage could be applicable to you as well. If not, it is a good idea to obtain insurance to make sure alcohol-related accidents will be covered.


  • Tips

Some suppliers already include a service or a gratuity fee in their contract. In case there is none, the tip you should be giving your bartender is 15 to 20% of the final bar tab. If there is already a service fee included, a tip is not necessary, and any additional tips you give will be entirely up to you.

  •   Bar and glassware

If your venue doesn’t provide a bar, you’ll have to rent one or get an alternative, such as a cabinet. If you are stocking the bar yourself, you will also need to rent materials, such as glassware from a caterer.

  1. Ways of saving money
  • Buy cans/ bottles rather than a keg

A keg can become useless once the party is over. However, unused cans and bottles can still be saved even after the wedding reception is over. You should also consider the extra materials and delivery fees a keg entails. In the end, you will see that cans and bottles are a significantly cheaper option.

  • Don’t offer too many options

Your guests really don’t need an unlimited number of drinks in order to be satisfied. As long as you have enough wine, you are good. As a general rule, offer only your signature drink during cocktail hour, and then move to wine for dinner and the rest of the evening’s events.

Final Thoughts

Weddings are a chance for people to gather and celebrate something meaningful. Wine and alcohol are a great add-on to make your event extra fun. Having an open wine bar will satisfy guests who want to get a little tipsy so they can socialize sans inhibitions.

Remember that you don’t have to splurge on your wine bar just to please your guests. Your guests will usually just look for the basic types of wines and cocktails. Plus, there are many ways you can save money with an open wine bar without compromising the satisfaction of your guests as far as booze is concerned.


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