Once the ceremony is over and the vows are exchanged, what’s the first thing wedding guests will do? Go to the bar! After all, everyone needs a little liquid encouragement before busting a move on the dance floor!


There are different types of bars, as well as different pricing structures. Consider the options and decide which is the right fit for your big day!




This would include beer, wine and hard alcohol. Keep in mind, a full bar will encourage heavier drinking (if that’s a concern for you) and will add an additional cost of mixers needed for mixed drinks. On the flip side, a full bar will really add a level of class to any wedding.

Beer and Wine Only

There are a few reasons to cut out hard alcohol from the wedding bar. First, it saves on cost. Second, it keeps things a little less rowdy – usually! Also, sometimes beer and wine are enough if that’s what the couple and their guests prefer to drink. Lastly, some popular venues – like wineries and breweries – will only allow beer and wine because of their permitting and licensing. 




This would mean guests pay their own way at the bar. This would only be ideal if a majority of guests don’t drink, especially the couple (because who wants to carry around cash at their own wedding!).


With per consumption, payment is only for the alcohol consumed. So, if the guest list includes a lot of non-drinkers, this would be the way to go. Per consumption is a good option if there are a lot of slow drinkers, older guests, pregnant guests, etc. Make sure to check with the bar provider on the cost per drink before making a decision. It will make a difference if drinks are $5 or $6 a piece versus $10 or $11.

Per head

When you pay per head, you are essentially paying a set price per person for every guest over the age of 21 (unless they are pregnant). Usually, per head pricing will be the best bet for your dollar


Pro tips:

  • In order to avoid a long line at the bar, the general rule of thumb is one bar/bartender for every 50 guests. For a guest count of 150 or more, consider a second bar no matter what. 


  • Place the bar away from the entrance of cocktail hour and closer to the dance floor in the reception.


  • When possible, have pre-poured wine or a signature cocktail ready at the start of cocktail hour to alleviate the line.


  • For beer offerings, try one light beer, one common beer and one craft beer. For wine, offer one white and two red varietals. And it’s always nice to throw in a sparkling wine if it’s not cost prohibitive – it is a celebration, after all!


  • Avoid tequila at your full open bar, it usually leads to shots. It is not proper etiquette to not serve shots at your wedding (and most venues will not allow them!).


Photo Credit: Corkbuzz Charlotte