Let me start this blog first by saying what I tell all of the couples that I work with: Whatever alcohol you host for your guests, they will be grateful for and enjoy it. All hosts/hostesses stress about the bar; it’s inevitable. But stick to your budget, and don’t stress yourself out.
In a perfect world, yes guests would be able to order and enjoy whatever type of alcohol they would like or would normally order and have it taken care of. However, don’t force the open bar if that means you are going to have cut other details of your event that are important to you. Guests would much rather be offered beer and wine and be able to tear up the dance floor than having a full open bar and no entertainment.
My suggestion is find a happy medium. For example, offer guests beer and wine with a fun signature cocktail. The signature cocktail can coordinate with the theme of the event or represent the likes of the guest of honor. And you can control the price of the signature cocktail by using a well-grade or call-grade alcohol instead of top shelf. Unless you’re offering a drink on the rocks, guests are not going to be able to tell the difference between a cocktail that has 5 ingredients including well vodka or a cocktail that has 5 ingredients and Tito’s.
Another option is to mix and match when you offer specific types of alcohol. For example, if your venue or caterer offers a beer and wine package, a house bar package and a premium package, that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to offer one of those packages the whole time. Ask them if you can create your own customized package. Most likely, they will be willing to do so. For example, you could offer beer and wine during cocktail hour and throughout dinner and then open it up to a house bar for the remaining of the event. Keep in mind most guests are going to be eating during dinner and not up at the bar (for the most part).
Other things you want to keep in mind when selecting your alcohol menu is the price of mix-ins and garnishes. If you have a cocktail that has a blackberry-infused simple syrup, that is going to cost more than a cocktail with a simple lemon twist.
Lastly, make sure to ask your caterer or venue about service fees. There will be a bartender fee whether it’s combined into an overall service fee, a per hour price, etc. And if you are simply offering your guests a cash bar option, make sure to check if there is a minimum that must be achieved.
If you follow these tips and tricks, you will be able to host a fun and enjoyable event for all without breaking the bank!