Updated: Jun 25, 2020
Before you walk down that aisle and into your happily ever after, there’s a whole lot of wedding planning that needs to be done. It can seem overwhelming — after all, a wedding is probably the biggest party you’ll ever throw. The good news is that planning the reception’s bar menu is the fun and easy part, especially since DoorXDoor Delivery has got your back.
Start by envisioning how the bar at your reception should be. Will there be a full, open bar throughout the event or will there be a cocktail hour and wine with dinner? Will you offer your guests a soft bar with wine, beer, and champagne only? How about a trendy wet bar with vodka, gin, rum, and white wine? The key factors are, of course, what your guests will be expecting and how much you plan to spend.
Now that you're imagining the possibilities, let’s break down the bar needs into categories.
The Perfect Signature Cocktail
Offering a unique signature cocktail is one of today’s most popular wedding trends. Served throughout the reception or only during cocktail hour, it’s a fun way to personalize your special day while simplifying things for the bar staff. If they mix up a giant batch ahead of time, it can easily be poured and served to your thirsty guests, thus helping to alleviate any long lines at the bar.
Choosing your signature cocktail
If it’s a spring wedding, then maybe try something floral like a lilac martini or a hibiscus champagne cocktail. For summer, why not incorporate some seasonal fruit? A strawberry vodka love potion or a blueberry and mint mojito could be fantastic.
A locally inspired signature drink might be just the thing to make your guests feel at home. Maybe use a regional spirit or a local delicacy like artisan honey or fruits for which the area is known.
Bride/groom and groom/bride favorites
If you’re both bourbon lovers, why not incorporate bourbon into a signature cocktail? If one of the couple loves scotch and the other loves rum drinks, then go for it and have two signature cocktails — a his/hers and hers/his!
Pro Tip: No matter what you choose, give the cocktail a light-hearted, romantic name. For an extra fun touch, print out the recipe on a tag and hang it from the glass — a little souvenir for your guests to take home.
Example Perfect Wedding Signature Cocktail Bar Menu:
The Men: Dirty Martini
The Ladies: Spiced Margarita
Our Pick: Aperol Spritz
Regardless of your budget, if you plan to serve wine at your wedding reception, your best bet is providing at least one type of white wine, one type of red wine and, if you like, a sparkling wine for the champagne toast.
Many people feel that a wedding wouldn’t be complete without a champagne toast for the happy couple. If you agree, you’ll also need to decide if you plan to offer the bubbly just for the toast or throughout the entire event.
Champagne can only be called such if it comes from the Champagne region of France. Everything else is sparkling wine. Some people enjoy sweet sparkling wine and others prefer it to be a little on the dry side. Thus, the best option for a crowd is to purchase something in between. An extra dry sparkling wine may sound aggressively dry but it actually has a touch of sweetness. There are delicious options available at just about any price point, so don’t worry about breaking the bank.
Pro Tip: If you only want sparkling wine for a toast, one bottle can provide 8-10 people with about a half-glass.
People at weddings adore white wine. If you only choose one, consider getting a Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc. They both tend to be lighter, fruitier, and sometimes slightly herbal in taste. Both are versatile wines that pair nicely with all types of food. If you wish to offer two white wines, you could add a buttery Chardonnay, just to mix things up a bit.
Pro Tip: If you’re getting married in the summer, especially if the reception is outdoors, people tend to drink a lot more white wine than red, so order accordingly.
If you serve only one red wine at your wedding, find something accessible that will compliment as many food options as possible. A red blend would accomplish this very nicely. Make sure you do some sampling before you buy, however, as red blends can vary greatly in flavor. If you wish to offer more than one red wine, consider a bold Cabernet Sauvignon or a lighter and fruitier Pinot Noir.
Pro Tip: People tend to drink more red wine at indoor weddings, especially during the fall and winter.
Like with the wine, you want to be able to please as many guests as possible, so a good way to do that is to offer at least two beer options. Perhaps you could do a light beer and a dark beer, like a lager or pale ale and a brown ale or a stout. You could also serve a seasonal or local craft beer along with a brand that is more mainstream.
Pro Tip: While a keg may seem like the more economical option, if you end up with extra beer at the end of the reception, you can’t save it for another occasion. If you purchase either cans or bottles, you can take it home with you.
Example Perfect Wedding Beer Bar Menu:
Higher Ground IPA
Hey, it’s your big day — why not go all out and splurge on a full bar for your guests. The basics are vodka, whiskey, scotch, tequila, rum, and gin. A mixture of mid-priced brands with a few top-shelf options thrown in will help to keep the costs under control while making your guests happy.
Pro Tip: To save extra money, only have liquor available for a limited time at the reception, like during the cocktail hour.
Example Perfect Wedding Liquor Bar Menu:
Svedka Vodka (prefer a little higher-end, try Chopin Vodka)
Hendrick's Gin (try as a Gin & Tonic with three cucumber slices and a few whole peppercorns)
Whiskey/Bourbon: Eagle Rare, Barrell Bourbon
Cachaça: Novo Fogo Cachaça (for the perfect caipirinha)
A bar menu wouldn’t be complete without mixers. They are also inexpensive and necessary for those guests who would prefer a nonalcoholic option. Make sure to include club soda and tonic water, a variety of fruit juices and soda.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget about the garnishes! In addition to citrus and olives, why not try some fresh herbs, flaky salt, and seasonal fruit to make those drinks really special.
Blood Orange Juice: Great with prosecco
Passion Fruit Juice: A marriage made in heaven with vodka
Guava Juice: Mixes well with gin
Ginger Beer: For that perfect Moscow Mule
So now you know that planning a wedding reception bar menu is completely manageable. Here are a few extra tips to remember when stocking up. Make sure to purchase enough alcohol for your guests. A safe assumption is at least three drinks per person. Also, start shopping early. Contact DoorXDoor Delivery, and let us make sure that all of your chosen brands can be obtained in time for the big day. Another hint — if you can, buy everything all at once and you’ll be more likely to get a bulk discount. The biggest tip of all? Enjoy a wonderful, stress-free wedding that your happy guests will be talking about for ages.