Crafting the Perfect Serve-Yourself Bar for your Wedding

Are you thinking about creating a serve-yourself bar at your upcoming wedding? If so, you probably have TONS of questions! What kind of liquor should you offer? What kind of theme should you use? What mixers do you need? How can you limit the expense of a serve-yourself bar? How many glasses do you need? What kind of glasses? There’s a lot to consider!

If your venue allows you to incorporate a serve-yourself bar, it can be a great way to allow everyone to get exactly what they want and eliminate the congestion that often happens at the bar. You could also potentially save a little bit of money since you won’t have to hire bartenders, and you can purchase your own liquor versus having to pay venue pricing.

There are a few important details you’ll want to consider as you plan. Let’s go over some of them!

1. A Beautiful Bar

Since you’re creating your own bar, you get the luxury of choosing exactly how you want it to look. There are so many options when it comes to designing a beautiful bar for your wedding reception. Depending on the theme and formality of your event, you’ll want to consider whether you want something that’s a little more rustic, vintage, eclectic (tiki bar, anyone?) or modern. Your decor, glassware, signage, and even your drink options should coordinate with this theme.

Your venue may come with a bar, in which case, you can customize it with accessories like decor, signage, and barware. If you’re going to be providing your own bar, you can get really creative! Consider using a piece of vintage furniture — like a dresser or sideboard — for your bar, or if you’re handy, you could even build something from scratch!

2. Serve-Yourself Bar Essentials

What good is a bar without the liquor? Think about your guests (and your budget) and decide if you want to stick with beer and wine or if you want to add liquor. If you have a large guest list, it might get pricey to keep whiskey, scotch, gin, vodka, tequila, rum and vermouth stocked for the entire evening. You may want to choose one or two signature cocktails and stock only the ingredients for those cocktails, along with beer and wine options.

If you have signature cocktails, be sure to include signage that explains how to make it. Alternatively, you could also offer pre-mixed cocktails to make things easier and cut down on congestion around the bar. A wine or champagne-based signature drink is a great way to stretch your budget a little further, and your guests will get to try something delicious and new. Feeling creative? Invent your own signature cocktail and give it a fun, memorable name!

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3. Mixers, Ice and Barware

If you are offering liquor options, you’ll want to provide the necessary mixers. You’ll need to set out seltzer, tonic, cranberry juice and both clear and dark sodas. Ginger beer and simple syrup are also nice to have on hand. Condiments are also necessary. Make sure you have plenty of pre-cut lemon and lime slices, cherries, olives, bitters, and sugar cubes available for mixed drinks.

In addition to mixers and condiments, you’ll also need plenty of ice, as well as ice tongs or scoops, cocktail shakers, bottle openers, and wine keys. Many people forget that chilled beverages can collect condensation, possibly creating a messy situation for guests as they remove their drinks. The last thing you want is for someone’s nice dress or suit to get wet, so make sure there’s lots of napkins and bar towels close at hand.

4. The Perfect Glassware

The glassware you choose for your serve-yourself bar will of course, need to match your overall theme. If you have a semi-formal or formal wedding, you’re probably going to want to opt for nice stemware. A vintage-themed wedding might include etched rocks glasses and copper mugs. Your rustic-themed wedding is the perfect occasion to break out the mason jars!

If you want to make sure everyone uses the same glass all night, you might want to consider providing personalized drinkware for your guests. Tie a little nametag on the handle, or etch their name on the glass. It can double as their escort card and wedding favor. Added bonus? You won’t have to worry about washing all those glasses later on!

Mandy Marie Creative is a full-service planning, design and production agency based in Phoenix. If you’re planning a wedding or event in Arizona (or elsewhere), we would love to help you design and plan a once-in-a-lifetime experience your guests will never forget. Reach out to us here to learn more about our packages!

Chelsea Kardokus