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Wedding Ideas The Ultimate Guide to an Open Bar at Your Wedding
The Ultimate Guide to an Open Bar at Your Wedding

The Ultimate Guide to an Open Bar at Your Wedding

Correct us if we’re wrong, but we think there’s one thing that can really make or break a party…and that’s the bar! Hosting an incredible celebration that all your guests will thoroughly enjoy means ensuring you have a well-stocked, well-run bar. At Hodsock Priory we’ve hosted all manner of celebrations over the years and are well versed in what makes a successful bar, but today we’re going to run you through our ultimate guide to having an ‘open bar’ at your wedding. Bottoms up…

What is an open bar?

An open bar is essentially one where you pay a standard fee and your guests don’t pay anything for the drinks they order. At weddings it’s not uncommon for couples to offer an open bar for a certain amount of time, like a cocktail hour. Click here to read our tips on how to have the hottest cocktail hour in town! Other times couples may have an open bar for the duration of the reception and through into the evening party.

Stunning wedding venue near Nottingham
Fly On The Wall Photography

Top tips for hosting an open bar:

When hosting an open bar at your wedding it can become quite overwhelming if you’re catering for a large number of guests. Here are our top tips for a successful open bar.

  • Staff: It is absolutely essential that you have an adequate number of staff to run your open bar. You want the service at your wedding to be impeccable, with high quality drinks while avoiding long queues. You’ll have happier guests and brilliant memories if the event is well staffed! Many caterers or drinks companies do provide bartenders and bar staff who will take care of all the logistics and practicalities, but make sure you check this before booking. 
  • Costs: It goes without saying that the alcohol will be the biggest expense, but there are a number of other costs to consider within your wedding budget too. These may include staffing and insurance. You will also need to take into account buying non-alcoholic drinks, garnishes, ice and of course glassware rental. 
  • Personalise it: If you want to make your open bar truly memorable, give it a personal touch! If you’re having a winter wedding, why not give your open bar a theme that offers a subtle nod towards the season? Winter-inspired cocktails and mulled wines definitely win your guests over. For those who are celebrating a summer engagement, you could serve your guests fruity cocktails and lighter drinks. A classic black-tie dinner is the perfect match for whiskey or champagne. 
  • Options: We always recommend offering various options to cater for all of your guests. Beers, spirits, wine and fizz will generally cover all drinking preferences. 
  • Open bar etiquette: It’s worth letting your guests know in advance that you will be hosting an open bar at your wedding, as this will mean they can relax and know what to expect. Perhaps pop a little note on your invitations to indicate that you’ll be hosting an open bar (and for how long!) so your friends and family can prepare ahead of the event. 
  • Stock: Knowing how much alcohol to stock for your open bar is one of the trickier aspects. Base this on the number of guests invited, the number of hours your bar will be running and whether or not you’ll be using bar stock for any toasts and speeches throughout the day. It’s always better to have too much than too little, but if you need further guidance on this our expert team will be happy to advise!
Beautiful wedding venue
Fly On The Wall Photography

When you have your wedding at Hodsock all the drinks for your open bar will be provided by us, so you needn’t worry about handling all these factors by yourself. Our expert team will guide you in all the above areas to ensure the event is a success! It’s worth knowing ahead of time that we don’t offer the option for you to bring your own alcohol – but we do have everything you need to create whatever sort of drinks menu you like.

For more information on our catering and drinks options for your wedding here at Hodsock, check out our Menus page. Remember to check back on our blog regularly for more useful advice pieces to take some of the stress out of your wedding planning!

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