Planning a wedding involves a lot of details to think about, and sometimes you just need the advice of an expert. Whether you have a wedding planner or you’re doing it all on your own, the more you know, the better prepared you can be to make the best decisions, which is why we’ve asked Kelly McLeskey-Dolata of A Savvy Event in Sonoma, CA for her tips on how to stock a wedding bar. Here are her very helpful answers:
Q. What do you think makes up the perfect bar at a wedding?
A. If the venue (and budget) allows, most people prefer a full bar at a wedding. The major components to have are vodka, gin, whiskey, and rum (stay away from the tequila!), though if you were to have just one hard alcohol, you will be set with a vodka bar with a variety of mixers. Bourbon or whiskey at the end of the night is also a nice option for guys. It’s always a good idea to have a couple of signature cocktails the bartender can pre-make and have readily available for guests. Sometimes people overthink the signature cocktail. It’s best to keep it simple and serve cocktails people usually drink. For wine, again, keep it simple with one red and one white. Too many options and people can get overwhelmed. Another thing to keep in mind is to stay on the lighter side and serve a Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc or rosé, instead of a heavier Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. A Sauvignon Blanc and rosé are an ideal choice to serve during a cocktail hour as most guests prefer to drink red wine with dinner.
Q. What’s something that might be unexpected, but is easy to serve and really makes a statement?
A. We had a mixologist at a recent wedding and he made a stencil with the couple’s monogram. He placed the stencil over an aerosol spray with bitters and sprayed the top of every drink with it. It was simple and easy, but the guests loved seeing the couple’s monogram on their drinks. Very unexpected, but a really sweet detail. Create a Bubble Bar and serve sparkling wine with a variety of add-ins so guests can make their own sparkling wine cocktails. Super-cute idea and perfect for venues that don’t allow hard alcohol. Another idea is when serving signature drinks consider making one in the color(s) of the wedding. It’s all about the details!
Q. For DIYers on a budget, any insider tips or tricks for getting the best price when stocking the bar?
A. I know that BevMo has sommeliers that are there specifically to help customers plan parties. You can call and they will help you plan out what it is you’ll need to buy. And anything that’s not opened they will actually take back, which can save you money if you end up buying more than you need. They also have 5 cent wine sales a few times a year, which is the perfect time to stock up and really save. (Bridebird note: If you don’t have a BevMo in your area, check with your local liquor store or warehouse.) You can also contact your favorite winery to find out when a new vintage is coming in as they may discount the previous year’s vintage to move through that inventory faster. In general when choosing wine for a wedding, go with a middle-of-the-road priced wine. People aren’t there to sniff, swirl, and taste wine, they’re there to have a good time. Consider smaller wine glasses or tell bartenders not to fill drinks to the top, instead give guests a tasting size pour. That’s an especially good tip for the champagne toast. Not everyone will want to drink a full glass of sparkling wine so it’s less wasteful.
Q. On the practical side, how does someone determine how much alcohol to serve at a wedding? And how many bartenders are needed?
A. On average, plan on 4-5 drinks per person throughout the whole wedding. Guests may not actually drink that much, but they will put down their drinks and walk away to dance, talk, etc.
For a wine & beer only bar, plan on 1-1.5 bottles per person.
For bartenders, you’ll need 1 per every 75 guests.
Have any questions about stocking your wedding bar? Let us know in the comments!