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An open bar is a must-have for many couples. Your guests traveled to watch your wedding and purchased a gift for you and your new spouse. The least you can do is offer friends and family a night of drinks and dancing to celebrate.

While an open bar is often a wedding essential, the costs of a fully stocked bar can add up quickly. Serving only beer and wine, perhaps with a signature cocktail or two, is more than enough to keep most guests happy while also reducing costs. To make a beer and wine-only bar more luxurious, opt for a larger array of beer options with flavorful and local brews.

How Many Types of Beer Should You Serve?

Just as you should serve two red wines and two white wines, opt for an assortment of beers so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. You don’t need a ton of options; three to five beers are probably more than enough as long as you choose strategically.

Start with an easy-drinking lager. This is your fallback option. If no one sees a specialty or craft beer to their liking, they’ll choose this one. Of course, some guests will prefer this beer. Good choices here are Budweiser, Coors and Miller. Because we’re in Western New York, you could also go with Labatt Blue or Genesee. You may want to survey guests to see if they would rather drink the light counterpart to these beers.

Craft Beers for a Wedding

At the other end of the wedding beer spectrum are local craft beers. A good rule of thumb here is one dark and one light, especially for a fall or winter wedding. Ales make a good choice for your light option. Try Hayburner from Big Ditch, Aviator Red from Flying Bison or Community Beer Work’s That IPA. For something darker, and very Buffalo, try Resurgence’s Sponge Candy Stout.

When choosing the best craft beer for your wedding, carefully consider the alcohol content of each drink. Brews at the higher end probably aren’t a good idea for a wedding reception.

You’ll also probably want to include an option between your lager and specialty craft beers. This could be a refreshing Corona, popular Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, crowd-pleasing Sam Adams Boston Lager or more unique Allagash White. Guinness could also be acceptable at a winter wedding.

If you and your fiancé are beer drinkers, add your favorites to the list as well. Talk to your beer-drinking family and friends to see what they’re enjoying lately. If one of their suggestions fills a hole in your beer menu, use it!

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