How to Create Your Own Bar at Your Wedding
You might consider setting up a DIY bar for your wedding if you have booked a venue that doesn’t include a bar. For example teepee/marquee weddings, a village hall, a dry hire venue.
Setting up a DIY bar isn’t as easy as it might sound but it’s certainly doable. If you were planning to pay for drinks for all your guests, it’s probably the cheapest way of doing it.
To be honest I think this works best if you’re happy to pay for the booze. Setting up a cash bar brings in a lot more things to consider, like licencing, payment methods, pricing, declaring any profit etc etc.
So for this blog I’m assuming you’re happy to cover the cost of the drinks for your guests.
In my next blog, I’m going to talk about how to work out much you need to buy. This week it’s more focused on what and how.
What Do We Need?
Now you have to be realistic about what options you can provide for your guests. You’re not going to be able to offer them a fully stocked bar with beer pumps, optics and everything!
You need to consider drinks for guests for the following phases of your day:
Drinks Reception – most couples serve prosecco or champagne, another choice of a pre mixed drink such as Pimms and sometimes lager/beer.
Wedding Breakfast – generally wine is served with your meal. You will also need water for the tables and options of other soft drinks.
You might also consider beer/lager as an option here.
Toasts – a glass of something sparkling is usually provided for guests to raise a toast during the speeches.
Evening Drinks – this will be the more challenging element for your day as guest will expect more choice available in the evening.
You might even consider bringing in a bar company for the evening. There are lots of fab options of mobile bars out there. This would then give you the flexibility of a paid bar in the evening – which most guests expect in the UK to be honest.
You may want to explain to your guests that it’s a DIY bar and that they can bring a bottle if they want to drink something specific. I know this means they are paying for their drink but is it better they do that than there is nothing they like available?
Don’t forget to supply a selection of soft drinks and water. It’s normal to supply bottled water on the wedding tables.
You’ll also need soft drinks for mixers, so things like tonic, lemonade and coca cola.
Do I need staff?
It is feasible to set up a bar where guests help themselves.
You can provide beer and lager in cans or bottles which you place in big ice buckets or a tin bath with ice. You can hire really big, strong buckets from Majestic Wine for a £15 deposit – they’re perfect for this type of event.
Bottles of wine can also be kept cold like this or in a chiller unit or fridge.
You could also have some pre mixed drinks like Pimms which are in big drinks dispensers and guests help themselves.
However if you want drinks to be served to your guests and or you need someone to collect and wash glasses, then you may need to consider hiring a few people to do this for you.
When to Buy
Make sure you shop around and watch out for special offers in the months up to your wedding.
Alcohol generally has a long shelf life so you can buy it when it’s a good price and spread the cost as well. If you’re storing wine and fizz, try to keep it in a cool, dark place and lie it down.
Places like Majestic will let you buy drinks on a sale or return basis. This allows you to return unopened items for a full refund.
Just be careful if you do this about chilling bottles in cold water. The labels often come off and you then can’t return them.
You need a suitable space to put your drinks, preferably somewhere well lit and away from things like the dance floor and your cake table.
Ideally you need a table as a minimum to store the glasses and other equipment you will need. Wooden crates are also really practical for keeping things in.
Additional Shopping List:
Don’t forget you will also need:
A good mix and plentiful supply of glasses. There are plenty of places where you can get free glass hire, such as Majestic, Sainsburys, Morrisons.
Don’t underestimate how many glasses you will need, better to have lots that are unused than be having to wash up in the middle of the day!
- Ice – you’re going to need a lot and you need a way to keep it frozen until it’s needed!
- Corkscrews – don’t just have one as it’s bound to disappear at some point! Also make sure you get ones that are easy to use.
- Bottle Openers – again make sure you have a few available.
- Fruit – sliced lemon and lime to add to drinks. You’ll also need a chopping board and knives for cutting fruit.
- Tea towels, cloths and paper towels for any spillages.
- Dustpan and brush (and a safe container) to deal with any breakages.
- Suitable bins to put rubbish in.
Overall, my advice would be to overbuy as you really don’t want the bar to run dry. You will know your guests and their drinking habits. And remember some people will drink a lot more than others so this will balance out your needs.
This type of set up is something that can also be included in my planning services, especially Wedding Day Management, so do get in touch if you think you’re going to need some help to get everything in place.