Raising The Bar

Helpful Tips For Stocking The Bar And Keeping Your Guest Happy

Hulse Photography



When the time comes to select the type of beverage service you would like, it is helpful to know the options that are available.  Consider your guest list, style of reception, and your budget to determine the style of beverage and or bar service you will offer
 the guests.

Decisions to make:
Open bar versus cash bar.  There is no argument here.  Your guests are your guests and should not be asked to pay for anything.
A full bar provides a complete selection of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.  For example, guests will be able to select mixed drinks, wine or sodas at their pleasure.
A soft or limited bar provides nonalcoholic beverages.  However, many soft bars now include beer and wine, lighter alcoholic fare.
A dry house is a beverage service that does not serve alcohol.
Chances are good that the caterer will ask your preference on the quality of bar you would like to provide.
A house bar consists of lower-priced brands the venue or caterer typically serves.
A premium bar is stocked with higher-end brand-name selections.
A deluxe or top-shelf bar serves top-of-the-line liquor.


The following suggestions are some of the more popular ways couples “stock their bars.”  Select a beverage plan that fits your budget and review and discuss it with your caterer and/or location manager to formulate a plan that works for everyone involved.
Serve a sparkling wine instead of champagne. Rather than serving champagne or sparkling wine for the toasts, let guests toast with what they are already drinking.
If you know your guests are not drinkers or you are having a weekday or morning wedding when alcohol consumption is usually less, have a consumption bar (where you pay per drink) rather than purchasing the site’s bar package.
If you are offering hard liquor, offer house brands rather than premium brands.
Serve a champagne punch
, as it is fairly light in terms of alcohol, and people are not as likely to pound down glass after glass.
Try a fully-stocked open bar for the first hour of the reception.  Then switch to a soft bar with wine, beer and nonalcoholic drinks.
Try an open bar for the first hour of the reception.  This will get things off on the right foot and many brides’ feels this fulfills their responsibility.  This is a popular “trend,” but strictly speaking breaks the laws of etiquette.

Hulse Photography



  • (based on a guest list of 100) BEER: 4-5 cases
  • SODAS: 4-5 cases
  • BOTTLED WATER: 1-2 cases
  • VODKA: 6 liters
  • GIN: 2 liters
  • WHISKEY: 2 liters
  • SCOTCH: 3 liters
  • BOURBON: 1-2 liters
  • RUM: 3 liters
  • TEQUILA: 2 liters
  • DRY VERMOUTH: 2 bottles
  • CHAMPAGNE: 1 case
  • RED WINE: 1 case
  • WHITE WINE: 2 cases


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