Reception Wedding Reception Drinks: A How-to for Serving Alcoholic Beverages
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Wedding Reception Drinks: A How-to for Serving Alcoholic Beverages

Wedding reception drinks are the perfect recipe for fun. From champagne toasts to fruity mixed beverages, wine, spirits and wedding receptions go hand-in-hand.

Most couples will have some sort of alcohol available at their reception; it's simply a matter of choosing which bar setup is best for your wedding planning. According to wedding reception bar etiquette, the most popular bar options include:

Open Bar: Guests receive complementary alcoholic beverages with unlimited refills.

Cash Bar: Guests are required to purchase their own alcoholic beverages.

Beer & Wine: Guests receive complementary beer and wine only.

While these are the most common bar options for wedding receptions, you can "mix and match" the bar to suite your style. Some couples serve beer and wine with one signature cocktail, or allow an open bar for a designated window of time. The choices are only as limited as your imagination—and your wedding budget!

Sourcing alcohol for yourwedding reception drinks can be done in a variety of ways. For one, you can sign a contract with the caterer or reception site indicating that all alcohol will be provided through their company. Another option is to bring in all the alcohol yourself. Since facilities charge by either the amount of liquor consumed or by the number of bottles opened throughout the wedding reception, you should discuss beverage fees upfront with the beverage service provider.

Some caterers and event facilities require you to use their bar staff—which can result in additional fees. This should also be discussed and clearly stated in the contract. Also, any caterer you hire must have a valid license to serve alcohol. Request to see a copy of the liquor license before signing any contracts.

If you do plan to source your own alcohol, stick with bar basics like vodka, rum, gin, wine (one red; one white), plus champagne for toasts. Also, verify with the wedding reception site manager or caterer if you will be charged a corkage or pour fee for bottle service. A corkage fee is the price venues charge patrons—who source their own wine—to open and serve drinks.

Serving alcohol at your reception is a huge responsibility and a costly expense. When serving your wedding reception drinks, keep these details in mind:

Bartenders should always check ID, to avoid serving alcohol to minors.

Some reception venues may not allow the use of alcoholic beverages on their property. If you’re planning your wedding reception at a church or some other sacred ground, make sure they allow the use of alcohol.

When hiring an outside bar service, get quotes for everything (bottles, glassware, manpower, mixers, etc.) according to the number of guests you plan on attending.

Gratuity for food and beverage is always 15 percent to 20 percent on top of your final bill.

So remember this rule of thumb: hitting the dance floor and greeting guests is always more fun with a "spirited" beverage in hand! Wedding reception drinks will liven up your party, just be sure to consider the venue, your options and your budget while you plan.