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Welcome back! Let's see . . . what did we learn from the two previous posts? First, we discussed the types of bar service (open, cash, full and limited-service bars) to consider when determining the type of bar service that will be offered at your wedding reception. Next, we talked about the various factors that you should consider when planning your bar budget. And, now, we will take a look at some of the latest trends in bar services that today's newlywed couples are offering their guests.

Signature/Specialty Drinks

In honor of the newlyweds, most bartenders offer signature/ specialty cocktails. They are usually presented as "his and her," "bride and groom," or as the couple's signature/specialty drink. These are usually theme-based drinks that have special meaning to the bride and groom. Signature/specialty cocktails are a longstanding trend in bartending. They're perfect for weddings. You should work with your bartender to decide on your signature/specialty cocktails. This may involve scheduling a tasting session with your bartender in order to concoct the acceptable potions.
"If you'd like, you could limit your bar to just the ingredients of your signature/specialty cocktail(s)."

Ideas for signature/specialty cocktails can be based on anything from the couple's favorite alcohol or liqueur, their honeymoon destination, to their favorite color. I remember bartending a wedding reception where the couple's favorite football team was the Baltimore Ravens. For their signature cocktails, I crafted two tasty, purple specialty drinks, representative of the Ravens' team colors. They were a major hit. In fact, most of the guests who came to the bar, ordered one of those two specialty drinks, which brings me to my next point . . .

Signature/specialty drinks can be used as a way to limit your bar offerings, thus cutting down on your bar costs. If you'd like, you could limit your bar to just the ingredients of your signature/specialty cocktail(s). A word of caution—try to keep your signature drink ingredients to a maximum of four items. You can run up a tab by having too many alcohols and mixers in your signature/specialty drink.

Cocktail Hour

While you're still taking photos, consider a cocktail hour at the start of your wedding reception. That way, your guests can drink and mingle. You don't have to worry about cousin Bertha complaining about being ready to eat, if she finally gets an invite to the reception.

Cocktail hours add a nice touch to any wedding reception. During this period of time, which is sometimes longer than one hour, guests' drinking habits are usually restricted to pre-determined alcoholic beverages such as wine, Champagne, and/or the signature/specialty cocktails. If your budget will allow, you may want to hire servers to personally, offer glasses of these drinks to your guests. Or, maybe set up designated areas with pre-poured glasses of wine and/or Champagne so that your guests can help themselves. If not, your guests can always venture to the bar on their own. Some cocktail hours aren't as restrictive and allow guests to order whatever they prefer from the bar.

Sometimes the cocktail hour is the only time when guests are allowed to drink hard liquor during the course of the reception. This could be a good option if you are looking to save a few bucks or if you happen to have friends or family members who are known to get toasted and become disruptive. I'm just sayin' . . .

". . . you don't have to worry about people going back and forth to the bar, drinking the entire four hours."
Cocktail hours may be used to supplement your bar, or as a means to limit your bar. You may opt for a cocktail hour, in addition to a full-service bar that may be open the entire duration of your wedding reception. Or, you may opt to limit your bar by offering only certain select alcoholic beverages during the cocktail hour and throughout the wedding reception. As mentioned earlier, at the end of the cocktail hour, you may decide to discontinue the service of alcohol for the rest of the evening and limit your bar to only non-alcoholic beverages. A warning here--notify your guests in advance. I've met a few unhappy guests who did not arrive in time for the cocktail hour. By limiting your guests' alcohol consumption, you don't have to worry about people going back and forth to the bar, drinking the entire four hours.

Wine Service

Just like the cocktail hour, you may opt to offer wine only, during certain designated times during the course of the reception. You could choose to offer it during the cocktail hour and/or during dinner service, only. This is another example of one of those limited bar options that I keep talking about. Trust me, it's cost effective if the budget is tight.
"The alcohol, the mixers, and the garnishes are all provided at a drink station."


No, you are not asking your guests to bring their own bottles of alcohol to the reception. BYOB stands for "Build Your Own Bar". They are the newest trend in bartending. BYOBs are your Mimosa, Mojito, Margarita, Sangria, and Bloody Mary bars (and whatever else you can think of). Think of them as drink buffets. The alcohol, the mixers, the garnishes, and the bar tools are all provided at drink stations. Depending on the number of expected guests, you may want to erect more than one drink station to cut down on the traffic at the bar.

BYOBs allow your guests to prepare their own drinks. Your bartender or your server sets up the drink station and your guests are free to do their own thing. All that is needed are brief instructions as to how to prepare the drink, the drink's ingredients that are labeled with decorative labels, notecards, or chalkboards, and that's it. Your guest will enjoy it!

"Keep in mind that some people may not drink the type of alcohol that is served at your specialty bar."

​ You can save a lot of money if you and your significant other decided to limit your bar to just the offerings of your BYOB. I said "can" because sometimes BYOBs are add-ons to the bar. Sometimes, people set up BYOBs in addition to a full or limited service bar, since BYOBs usually offer only one type of alcohol—Mimosa (Champagne), Mojito (rum), Margarita (tequila), Bloody Mary (vodka), and Sangria (red or white wine). Keep in mind that some people may not drink the type of alcohol that is served at your specialty bar. Cousin Bertha can't get her Hennessey and Coke at any one of these types of bars.

Drink Menus, Notecards, and Chalkboards

All of these add a special touch to your bar and to your drink stations. Use framed drink menus at the bar to explain your bar offerings and to describe the ingredients in your signature/ specialty cocktails. You may use any of these combinations at your BYOBs. Guests should never walk up to a BYOB and have to guess at an ingredient or how to prepare their drinks.

I think I've covered most of the bases. Happy planning! Until next time . . . serving the art you can taste.

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