Bars, Buffets, and Booze: What is Expected and How to Handle It

Bars, Buffets, and Booze: What is Expected and How to Handle It
Reading Time: 3 minutes

A huge part of planning a wedding is planning the reception. Your family and friends will be happy to watch you proclaim your love for one another, but they’ll really be looking forward to the celebration afterward. That means that you need to really put some thought into the food and drinks that you will be serving. And although it may be impossible to please everyone, MOST everyone can be included with a few tips to keep in mind.


A buffet dinner is popular, as is a bar. Here’s what you need to know about putting these things together and what your guests will expect:

Dinner Buffet

A dinner buffet is a great choice because it allows guests to serve themselves exactly what they want and in the quantities that they want. There are more things to think about these days with so many allergies, some that can be fatal. For the perfect dinner buffet, you should add at least two main course options, such as a chicken and a fish. You should also offer a hearty side that can double as a vegetarian main entree, such as a pasta or risotto.

Include options that meet all of your guests’ dietary needs.

The best way to get this information is to ask for it on the RSVP card. Then put out menu cards with all the ingredient information so that guests can make informed choices.Talk to your wedding planner or catering company about line management options. For example, you might have guests go up by table, or you might include two buffet tables to let more guests serve themselves at once. A wide variety of desserts in buffet format are also ideal. Still keep in mind that you should have any allergy inducing foods such as peanuts and dairy away from other desserts.

Hired Bar

Champagne is a must for your reception since guests will want to toast the happy couple. But most receptions also feature other spirits for guests to enjoy. A a full bar generally includes beer, wine, and mixed cocktails. If you can’t afford to host a full bar, you can offer a modified bar where only certain spirits are available, such as gin and vodka, as well as a few mixers.

If you have the budget, an open bar will be well-received. However, if you are like most couples and need to cut costs, you can either provide a certain number of drink tickets per guests or you can offer a cash bar where guests pay themselves. Or you can foot the bill for the beer and wine and asks guests to buy their own cocktails.
A final option is to offer a beer and wine bar only, plus one or two signature cocktails. You can choose a cocktail you like, or you can make up your own cocktail especially for your wedding.

Providing Your Own Alcohol

In some cases, buying your own alcohol can be the least expensive option, especially when a “pay for your own booze” is out of the question. To do this, you’ll want to talk with your catering company about taking on responsibility for serving the alcohol. The company will likely charge you a “corking fee,” which is the fee for serving alcohol that they do not provide.

You’ll want to carefully calculate how much alcohol you will need to ensure that you don’t run out.
Typically, you’ll want to have one serving of alcohol per guest, per hour. That means that if you have 50 guests and a three-hour reception, you will 150 servings of alcohol. Each bottle of wine provides 6 servings; each full keg provides about 165 servings; and each bottle of alcohol provides about 18 servings.

Some couples are opting for the BYOFAVB (Bring Your Own Favorite Booze) to share with guests. This way, everyone is happy and gets to try new and exciting beverages!

Setting up the right buffet and bar can ensure that your guests have a wonderful time while they are helping you celebrate your wedding. Add the right music and entertainment, and your guests will have a night that they won’t soon forget — and neither will you.



Author Heather G

Heather is serious about weddings. She is also the senior writer for two annual magazines, and prides herself on quality work with fast results

More posts by Heather G

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