#WeddingWednesday: Stocking the Bar at Your Wedding
When on a strict wedding budget you must be aware of all the budget-savvy options that are available to you. One of these options is to provide the alcohol at your wedding instead of hiring someone to provide it.
Before electing to provide your own alcohol you should first check with your vendors. Some vendor contracts for full-service event locations include the alcohol supply. Other venues may allow you to bring outside beverages but they will charge a corking fee calculated per bottle. Your caterer may also prefer to stock the bar or, it they do not have a liquor license, they may prefer to work with a certified vendor. Many caterers also will charge a fee or require proof of insurance to protect them from liability if they allow you to supply your own liquor. This is especially the case if the caterer will be serving the beverages themselves.
Even if your caterer does not require proof of insurance, that does not mean you shouldn’t get it. Look into the liquor laws for the state you will be holding your wedding so you can make sure you protect yourself and all involved with liability insurance.
The three main types of wedding bars are beer and wine only, full bar and a modified full bar which is the in-between of the first two. If you choose to have a true full bar, it is not recommended to choose the DIY option. In this case you should work with a professional bartending service/your venue. Otherwise you will blow most of your budget on half the stock of your liquor.
On average, the ratio of you alcohol should be 50% wine, 30% beer and 20% liquor. This will change depending on the type of crowd you will be hosting. Also, you will want to estimate that each guest will drink one beverage per hour. During a four-hour reception with 100 guests you will need 200 servings of wine, 80 servings of beer and 120 servings of liquor. One bottle of wine equals four glasses and one bottle of liquor can make eighteen drinks.
When selecting your beverages you should remember to stock two of everything. This includes: two red wines, one white wine, one light beer, one darker, one clear liquor and one brown liquor. A sparkling option should also be available for toasts. Popular mixers such as soda, tonic water, juice and club soda should also be on hand along with lemons, limes and ice.
If you are having a day time wedding, your guests will most likely be drinking less so you can supply a bit less stock than you would if you were having an evening reception.
If you will be having a self-serve bar, if your bartender is not a professional or if you are using larger than normal glasses such as mason jars you should prepare for larger than average servings and base the alcohol you stock on that fact.
The season that your wedding is in as well as the venue will also dictate whether you will get more of a certain kind of alcohol. During the summer, people tend to drink more white wine and bubbly beverages, but in the winter, more red is preferred. If you happen to be getting married in wine country you should up the wine percentage as more of your guests will want to drink wine than beer or cocktails.
Planning to have a signature cocktail? Subtract one hour from your original calculations and make sure there is enough alcohol for everyone to have it. If you are only offering a signature cocktail in addition to wine and beer during the cocktail hour you should consider having two signature drinks: one made with clear liquor and the other with brown as people can be picky as to which they would prefer and you want to accommodate as much as you can.
When purchasing your alcohol you should research the suppliers in your area and find one that has a buy-back policy. Some stores may allow you to return alcohol, as long as the bottles are not open. Another way to save on liquor is to skip the top-shelf varieties and go for the more affordable options.
If you are worried about how to prevent guests from going too far at your reception, you have some viable options to avoid the embarrassment of a drunk, unruly guest. In some cases, it may be best to not invite a guest you know is going to ruin the event. Another option is to get your wedding party, close friends or your wedding coordinator involved. Just let them know who they need to keep an eye on to make it so you can enjoy your day without worrying about that potential problem and to make sure no one drives away drunk at the end of the night.
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