How To Serve Alcohol At A Wedding Without A Bartender

It’s easy to learn how to serve alcohol at a wedding without a bartender using a self-service bar. This article will discuss planning a self-service bar and what cocktails you can serve to your guests.

Speaking of drinks, are you familiar with what is a cocktail hour at a wedding? Consider reading about it as it’s the time of the wedding where alcohol is expected to be served. 

how to serve alcohol at a wedding without a bartender


How To Have A Wedding Bar Without A Bartender


Step 1. Plan a self-service bar

The easiest way to serve alcohol at a wedding even without a bartender is by having a self-service bar instead. This eliminates the need to have someone stay at the bar and serve people drinks, making it perfect if you don’t hire any bartender. 

But first, you need to prepare the essentials for a self-service bar. They include the drink selection, which we will discuss later on, and the ice and glassware.

Plan the budget and how many items are needed to ensure that the guests will be satisfied and the bar will operate smoothly. A tip to ensure that the bar won’t run out is not to serve and have everything available at once to make the drinks last throughout the reception. 


2. Prepare the best drinks for a self-service bar at a wedding

So what drinks should you serve at a wedding if there is no bartender? Since the guests will be preparing their own drinks, they will look for simple cocktails and alcoholic drinks that they can easily make. 

Stock up on ready-to-drink alcohol like bottled wines, beer, and canned cocktails. Ensure that you also have non-alcoholic options for other guests who might look for them.

You can even make the self-service bar more engaging by setting up a station where guests can mix different alcoholic recipes. Just make sure that everything is portioned equally.


How Do You Set Up A Self-Serve Bar?

  1. Before anything else, check with your wedding venue if they allow a self-serve bar; some locations might have regulations that require you to hire their bartender because of licenses and permits
  2. Prepare the basic tools for running a bar such as short and tall glasses, wine glasses, stem glasses, bottle opener, corkscrew, ice bucket, ice, spoons, stirs, jiggers, shakers, strainers, towels, and cocktail napkins
  3. Stock the bar with wine, beer, spirits, and non-alcoholic options, then chill them for the wedding day
  4. Prepare and cut the garnishes and other ingredients for basic cocktail recipes if you include them in your self-service bar
  5. Organize the bar similar to a buffet, so the guests can do their drinks orderly and have everything needed easily 
  6. Print out recipes for drinks to help with portioning


How Do You Serve Drinks At A Wedding Without A Bartender?


What drinks to serve at a wedding without a bartender?

Since you don’t want to overindulge and spend more than your intended budget for the alcohol, limit your options with what to stock your self-service bar. Consider two options each for red and white wine, a clear and dark liquor, light and dark beer, and at least two signature cocktails pre-mixed

You don’t need to have a wide array of mixers since the guests are less likely to try many recipes. You also want to limit the number of shots that guests can have.  


If a self-service bar is impractical…

If you have more than 50 guests, assigning someone to the bar would be much better. This will ensure that the alcohol won’t go quickly, and someone can keep the guests controlled over the night. 

But what if you don’t have the budget for a bartender? Consider a bartending student or a friend interested in serving drinks.

Some people enjoy being behind the bar at events, especially when they’re familiar with cocktails and various drinks. Just make sure that you communicate with them well regarding the expectations. 


How Much Alcohol Do I Need For 50 Guests?

It’s hard to calculate the specific amount of alcohol you need for your wedding, but you can count two drinks for the cocktail hour and one drink per hour after that for each guest. So if you have 50 guests, you can expect to provide 150 to 200 drinks for every 50 guests at a wedding.  


How many different drink options should you have at a wedding?

The number of drink options at a wedding will depend on your preference. You can also have light and dark options for each drink, but don’t forget to offer non-alcoholic options.


How much should I budget for alcohol at my wedding?

The number of guests and how long you’ll have alcohol during your wedding affect how much you’ll spend on alcohol, but most weddings need at least $2,000.

Speaking of duration, here is how long should a wedding toast be as drinks are expected to be available for this part of the wedding. 



And that’s it! You just learned how to serve alcohol at a wedding without a bartender by having a self-serve bar instead. 

The key is planning and setting up the bar to ensure that you’ll have enough alcoholic drinks. You also want to set a budget and portion the drinks or limit when alcoholic beverages are available.

We hope this helped you with your wedding bar; leave us a question if you have any. 

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