Food For Thought: Let’s Have A Toast!

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Food For Thought



As our wedding catering series draws closer to its end it’s time to address one of those components that your guests are most looking forward to, although they may not admit it The bar service!

When deciding on yours, two main questions will dominate. One, should you have an open bar? And two, should you attempt to do it alone or hire a service?

If your wedding reception will be held at a venue that is also providing the catering, the beverage service will most likely also be taken care of. Likewise if you are using an independent caterer they may also provide bar services as part of their overall package or may have a service that they recommend/work in tangent with.

If you are intending to provide your own beverages do be aware that this may not be allowed by some venues so make sure it is permissible when booking, if possible.

When comparing the prices of beverage services make sure that you compare the cost per unit (cost per drink/cost per bottle) rather than the estimated total cost. Also, be sure that associated costs, such as labor and taxes, are clearly outlined.

For those who are concerned about the expense of an open bar, cost-saving measures include only having the bar open for the first hour or two (if your reception will be four or more hours), only serving wine (boxed) and beer (on tap), and only serving one signature drink (or cocktail) if you want a third liquor-based option.

When organizing your bar service don’t overlook the non-alcoholic options as well! Soft drinks, juices, and coconut water are standard fare for a reason, however why stop there? Consider frozen fruit smoothies, and iced coffee blends as distinct, yet crowd-pleasing alternatives. For non-alcoholic drinks consider using canned soft drinks and boxed juices rather than 2 liter-bottles. This will minimize wasted partially used products, and will maximize how much remaining product can be used later.

Whether you use a bar service, or offer to provide the drinks yourself, you will need drink staff. Keep in mind that you will need 1 bartender for every 50 guests. A drink service that consists solely of beer, wine and soft drinks will be much faster (and cheaper) than one that also offers cocktails or a full bar. Keep this in mind when considering how quickly your guests will be served. Also consider having a clearly labelled display of the available beverage selections on top of, or at the back of the bar to reduce the amount of time needed for guests to learn their options.

If you do decide to offer a full bar, another way to manage the cost is to offer beverages in stages. For example, offer beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks until dinner service ends. If mixed drinks and/or liquors are added afterwards consumption will be considerably lower than if they were offered from the start. Also consider having a “cooling down” period for the last 1/2 hour of the reception where only non-alcoholic beverages are served.

Likewise, if  wine is to be placed at the dinner tables, be sure the placement is timed to coincide with the food service. If wine is placed at the tables too far in advance of the food service (or if food service is delayed for some reason) wine consumption will increase above the normal consumption level and you may run short of wine during dinner.

When situating the bar service, make sure that it is at a distance from both the entrance and the buffet table or other associated food area. This will reduce congestion and encourage traffic flow in the reception space. Great for the overall atmosphere, and for those who will want a clear view of the subject of our final article, the cake!


“Food For Thought” is sponsored by The Wedding Convention TT 2016. Click below to learn more!


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Series NavigationFood For Thought: How To Cater For Wedding Guests with Special DietsFood For Thought: Let Them Eat Cake!


Passionate foodie, founder of Trinigourmet and Caribbean Lifestyle Maven. Author of "Glam By Request: 30+ Easy Caribbean Recipes"

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