Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hey! Meet Me At The Bar! (Los Angeles Wedding Planner)

Re-printed from a post I wrote a while back on The Broke-Ass Bride:

Mmm...Cocktails... (Courtesy of the New York Times)
 Ah, yes the wedding bar. The words alone brings a smile to your face. It’s the place where the party gets pumped up, where the corks are popped and the glasses clinked, where your groomsmen can be found at any time during your wedding, and where a chunk of your reception budget is going to go to. 

Oops! Frowning! 

 But let’s take a look at that, shall we? We’ll start with the basic premise that you want a hosted (“open”) bar at your wedding, which means you pay for the booze and your guests don’t have to spend a dime. Some of you are out there thinking, wait, there’s another way? Yup, you can also host the bar for x amount of hours and then it turns into a cash bar, and everyone buys their own drinks from that point until the end of the night. Or just have a cash bar. Truthfully? I haven’t seen the last two in a while. 

 So, hosted bar. The bar is usually managed by either your venue or your caterer, so start there. Can you bring in your own alcohol? This can be a god-send for your budget and for your partying, for a couple of reasons. You get to serve your favorites, for one, and control how much gets served, for another.  And, depending on where you buy, whatever isn’t used can be returned. Make sure you ask at the store, first, though. And tell your bartender not to open any bottles before they’re going to be used. This is one of the few times when being proactive won’t help! 

If you’re wondering how much you need, here’s a great wedding bar list. Four glasses per wine bottle, think at least 2-3 per person. Decide if you’re going to have an full bar, where your guests can order whatever they want in terms of alcohol and cocktails, or a limited bar with a list of choices. Either way, post a menu so folks know what’s available. Limited bars can be really fun – I had one couple who created their own specialty cocktail, which they served with wine and beer. And another couple, speaking of beer, brought in cases that you can only buy in Michigan. And remember: It doesn’t matter if your wine is “two buck chuck” as long as it tastes good. Slap on a custom label and no one would be the wiser! Some of the best wine I’ve ever had cost less than $5. Don’t forget about sodas and water, too. Oh, Lord, and ice. 

 What if you can’t bring in your own? Most venues have bar packages, usually covering 2-4 hours of service. Which is where the panic sets in. Four hours? How are you supposed to keep a good party going if alcohol is only going to be served for four hours?? 

Well, hang on a second. Say your wedding goes from 5 – 11pm. So, ceremony from 5-6, and alcohol doesn’t get served until the Cocktail hour at 6pm. That gives you from 6-10pm. No, no, chill. You’re going to want to shut down the bar about an hour before your reception ends anyway, so people can sober up a little bit before they have to drive home. Plus, everyone is free to get as many drinks as they can carry before the bar closes, they just can’t get any afterward. 

I know, it sounds like you’re being an enabler, but I’m just saying… 

But say it’s 2 or 3 hours, which isn’t going to be enough time for you. Most venues offer two options in that case – an extra hour for x amount of money, or drinks based on consumption. Consumption? That means that you agree to put down a certain amount of money for the bar, and once that is used up per-drink, the bar is closed OR they will tell you when you’re getting close and you can choose to shut it down or pay more money to keep it open. If you never reach your limit, you get the rest of your money back. 

 To get you started, here’s a recipe for the Recession Bride’s Cocktail, created for me by Deana Deacon of 701 Cocktail Kitchen. It has the maximum amount of yummy with the minimum amount of money spent on ingredients, and you can subtract the non-alcohol elements and it’s still awesome. Feel free to call it something else when you serve it at your wedding:

  • Two ripe fresh strawberries
  • muddle then add:
    • 1oz citrus vodka
    • squeeze of fresh lemon
      add ice to shaker
      Shake for 20 seconds
      strain into martini glass
      garnish with lemon sorbet ball

    See you at the end of the aisle, 

    Liz Coopersmith 
    Silver Charm Events  
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