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Deciding how to offer alcohol to guests at your wedding reception can be a tricky topic. Location, budget, personal preferences and beliefs all play a role. While some couples feel a full open bar is the only real option, there are quite a few ways to serve throughout your event.


Their Alcohol

Your venue and/or caterer likely provide everything you need to serve guests, from alcohol and mixers to glassware and ice. If this is the case in your situation, you have a few options.

Open Bar

Whether your open bar stays open throughout your entire event or lasts for a shorter time period, having an open bar means that guests can order whatever they want throughout the night. You don’t necessarily need to offer high end options (although you most certainly can!), just a wide variety of alcohol types.

Consumption Bar

Instead of paying a lump sum for your open bar, your bartenders will track how much your attendees drink. A consumption bar is equitable to an open tab for your guests. If you know your family and friends won’t drink heavily, consider this option.

Soft Bar

Almost everyone will be happy with beer, wine and champagne options. Foregoing hard liquor brings down the cost of your bar, makes service faster and can keep guests from overindulging. If you don’t want to remove liquor entirely, choosing one to three signature cocktails that match your wedding’s season and venue are also an option.

Your Alcohol

Smaller venues may allow you to purchase your own alcohol for your reception. Don’t forget the details, like mixing tools and water to keep everyone hydrated.


You Buy, They Serve

Some caterers will allow you to buy the alcohol, while they take care of mixers and soft drinks, as well as serving. This makes sense in some cases, but often it’s easier to let the experts take care of stocking your bar.

You Buy, You Serve

Not you, specifically, but one of your guests willing to donate their services for the night as their gift to the new couple. This can work well for small weddings at venues that don’t have an established protocol for serving.

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