{ Inspiration }          { Fashion }          { Green[er] }          { DIY }          { Tips }          { Our Wedding }

Saturday, June 5, 2010

DIY Project: Bar Service

There are things as a bride that you'll only have to think about if you're a DIY Bride. Our venue doesn't provide bar service. For a Budget-Savvy DIY Bride, this is great. You can purchase your own liquor and bring it in, avoiding the typical "W" markup. (California brides can totally benefit from pre-planning their alcohol needs. BevMo! has a Spring and Fall Five Cents Sale. You buy one bottle for full price and get a second bottle (same vintage) for only five cents. Also if you shop there regularly don't forget to take advantage of your rewards.)

Do you fully realize what bar service entails? WeddingPlanning.com has a good description of what you need to consider as well.

For a bar, alcohol and glasses are obvious. But have you thought about non-alcoholic drinks? What about water? We didn't.

With the exception of the appetizers (along with trays to serve them on) at our cocktail hour, no bar service means there's nothing for our guests to drink. It also means that after dinner during the dance, there's nothing for our guests to drink. Our caterer provides iced tap water (along with a water glass) for dinner. Guests if you're reading this don't fear - we'll have beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, for you to quench your thirst with.

Have you thought about garnishes and accessories?
  • If serving wine, corkscrews.
  • If serving beer, bottle openers.
  • If serving Corona or Pacifico beer, lime wedges,
  • If serving Hefewiezen, lemon wedges.
  • If serving Blue Moon, sliced oranges.
  • For those beers requiring citrus. You can prepare the wedges/slices ahead of time. If you decide not to, remember you'll need to stock your bar with a cutting board and knife.
  • If serving mixed drinks, shakers, spoon.
  • If serving Martinis, olives, cocktail onions, and of course picks for the olives and cocktail onions.
  • If serving Margaritas, salt.
  • Don't forget if you're serving mixed drinks your bartender is going to need a way to clean the shaker(s) between drinks (unless the drinks are pre-mixed).
In previous posts, I'd mentioned that I wanted to serve Pacifico in honor of my grandfather. (There will be bottles of Pacifico used as candle holders so we're still covered.) Our guests will notice that it's absent. I don't want to have to worry about slicing wedges the day of our wedding. I don't want to have to think about whether or not I wrapped a knife carefully and packed it and a cutting board.

If you're thinking about a DIY Bar, be sure to review Real Simple's checklist to make sure you've got the basics covered. Also keep in mind whether or not your venue has a sink nearby where you're setting up the bar. If it doesn't you might want to reconsider mixed drinks.

We were initially thinking of serving a Signature Drink. Turns out we don't have one. We'd need to come up with a drink that means something to the both of us. This for us would be hard, really hard. Most mixed drinks have refined sugars in them, whether sugar or high fructose corn syrup. I can't have large quantities of refined sugar (I'm supposed to avoid them altogether but that's really really hard). It's actually a really good thing we don't have a mixed drink that was our signature drink - there's no sink near where the bar is being set up (oops).

Ok so our guests might disagree that we don't have a "Signature Drink" we both like. We do. We both we like Bourbon. We even have an inside joke about Booker's Bourbon (and if I can remember where in the apartment I put that empty bottle for "safe keeping," it will be one of our candle holders).

Remember that Signature Drinks were designed by the WIC to help a couple reduce their bar costs. Now consider our "Signature Drink." Ours will put us over our initial $1000 alcohol budget. If each of the 132 adults we invited likes Bourbon and takes a Booker's on the Rocks, we'd need 264 ounces or 7,807 ml or 11 bottles if no one requests a double. To serve our signature drink, we're looking at $648.89 without tax. We've single-handedly created a very dry event as we need to get non-alcoholic beverages for the children who will be in attendance as well as for the designated drivers. You've probably guessed by now, but in addition to nixing the Pacifico, we nixed the DIY Signature Drink.

Our DIY Bar will be featuring a variety of red and white wine as well as some of our favorite local and imported beers. We'll have IZZE sodas (remember I can't have refined sugars) and water for our non-alcoholic options. We won't be serving in wine glasses, pints, or tumblers though. DIY bar service means you either buy or rent what you're serving your DIY drinks in. Again guests if you're reading this, don't fear that you'll be chugging from the bottle. We've sourced 5 ounce and 12 ounce compostable cups from World Centric. And don't worry that you'll need to wipe your hands on your clothes after eating your appetizer, we've got the cocktail napkins covered as well.
(images not to scale; 5 ounce on left; 12 ounce on right)

So brides, if you're doing a DIY Bar, consider what you'll need in addition to just the alcohol and include in your budget.


  1. Lots of good stuff to think about! The signature drink was the one thing I had to let go of, sadly. The bar is where our venue makes a lot of their money, I think, so we don't have the option of a DIY bar. Unfortunately the cost of an open bar was way too pricey for us ($5 per hour per person for beer/wine/champagne only, and $7 per hour per person for full bar including liquor), so we're bringing our own wine. The corkage at our venue is VERY inexpensive at only $5 per bottle. The venue's bartenders will be serving it for us. Since there's no simple way to figure out corkage on the beer, we've agreed to open a tab on our dime to cover beer -- with a $$ limit that we've asked them to consult us on if we hit it. Hopefully we won't hit it. Non-alcoholic drinks will be from the bar (ice water, basic sodas, etc.) and are covered in the catering costs. For cocktails, well, that'll have to be a cash bar unfortunately. It was just too expensive to offer even one cocktail for every person (via a drink ticket). There will still be free alcohol, just not liquor. Hopefully our guests won't be too upset. I really wanted to have our signature drink be caipirinhas made by the husband of one of my bridesmaids. He's Brazilian and offered to make them for us -- and let me tell you, his caipirinhas are to die for. Unfortunately it turned out to be way too complicated for the venue to try to figure out "corkage" on such a thing, so we had to nix the idea.

  2. @mooflyfoof - I'm glad your non-alcoholic drinks were included in the catering costs. It never dawned on me that caterers wouldn't offer it as a service. We only had the option for tea/coffee (dinner) and tap water. Your venue was going to charge corkage on beer? I love (dripping with sarcasm) how venues nickel and dime brides.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...