Weddings today prioritize the guest experience, and what better way to show friends and family a good time than by stocking the bar full of the favorites?
The vast majority of receptions include bar services; 78 percent of couples host an alcoholic bar, and another 10 percent offer zero-proof drinks, according to the WeddingWire’s 2020 Newlywed Report. It’s long been an integral part of the wedding reception, as offering refreshments is a sign of great hostmanship.
Figuring out what and how much to select and pay for, though, is one of the planning tasks that causes extra stress for many couples. Whether the to-be-weds have a venue team and catering company managing the tipples (and tips!) or choose to DIY from the local liquor store, there are several decisions to make about signature drinks, wine lists, whiskey and beer selections, sodas and mixers, and all things back bar. Don’t forget about soft drinks, too, as you’ll want coffee, tea, water, and other beverages for those in-between moments, for those who abstain from alcohol, and for younger guests. (Don’t forget drinks for children — especially if the wedding has a flower girl or ring bearer!)
Plus, of course, there’s money. As with every element of wedding planning, budget comes into play from the start. The average American couple spent $2,564 on pre-pandemic wedding day libations, according to The Knot 2019 Real Wedding Study. That can quickly increase if there is a larger-than-average guest list, the attendees crush vodka sodas well into the afterparty, or the couple opts to serve vintage Champagne for the wedding toast.
Luckily, there’s a formula to help you begin: Set a budget, determine the bar type, estimate consumption, and choose the beverages to accommodate this. Here’s a quick guide on what you need to know to stock your wedding bar.