How-to: open bar and alcohol for your wedding
In this article, we briefly outline the general ideas, but if you want a visual chart and a list of what to get, just go straight to the last page. You can optionally find a professional bartender for your wedding on our site, but you do not have to hire a pro if you just want to have an open bar. Use this guidance even if you do decide to hire someone - you will roughly understand what you need for your own wedding, negotiate better by being informed, and avoid paying extra for something you don't need.
Vodka, rum, and gin are the "staple food" of your wedding. Tequila is also popular, though not as popular as the first three liquors. These are the liquors that you have to have to run a successful bar. Get them in medium-grade bottles - knowing how many people you've invited, your guests do not expect you to serve only Grey Goose or Bombay Sapphire, but don't opt for "generic" house liquor either.
Prepare everything expecting each guest to consume on average about five drinks for an average wedding - that's not counting the champagne. Some people don't drink at all, some drink too much - over the course of the day, you'll average roughly at five cocktails per guest.
1 drink equals one straight shot, or 50 ml. 1 large, 1.75-leter bottle, therefore, will serve about 8-9 people.
Typically, for every two bottles of vodka you'd want to have roughly 1 bottle of rum, 1 bottle of gin, and if you feel your crowd likes tequila, 1 bottle of tequila.
Count 1 bottle of champagne per person if you have a full-day reception: champagne is the #1 thing that hosts run out of first during the weddings. Even 1 bottle per guest might be conservative if you have friends who drink a lot. Opt for dry options rather than sweet, as you can only increase the amount of alcohol sugar as the day progresses to avoid a bad hangover - serving dry champagne at the reception will ensure a proper flow of the day and only the increasing alcohol consumption through the evening - which is directly proportional to how wild your wedding will end up ;)
Beer at the wedding is like a dump truck on a golf course - a bit out of place and a bit crude for the occasion. Yet some people just can't celebrate anything without a bottle of their favorite beverage. So get a few cases of beer - your choice, really, as anything works.
Red and white wines.
So we did a blind test once, putting red and white wine bottles into paper bag containers - in a broad range of expensive and cheap wines. A fully blind test with about 25 participants showed that most people favored one wine over another pretty randomly, and there was no direct correlation between the price of wine and how good people thought it tasted. So get any wine you want - our personal test showed that a brand of wine does not really matter.
The only thing to watch out for is the sugar (sweet or dry - you want to be in between) and the fact that ratio between number of bottles of red wine and the number of bottles of white wine should be roughly 2:1 for the ceremony and 3:1 for the reception dinner.
If there is a fridge nearby, stuff the hard liquor into the freezer and champagne into the fridge compartment. Don't put them on ice to avoid messing up the labels.
With this, the core liquor is taken care of. Now on to putting it to good use.