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Your Wedding Guide To: Bars

If you are having an open bar at your wedding (100% highly recommended), there are a few things to consider regarding aesthetics and guest experience! Whether you are working with your venue or caterer's bartenders, or working with an outside service, you’ll need to decide on the number of bartenders based on your guest count and of course, then bar amounts! And whether your venue has a bar/bars, or not, you’ll want to take note of your options for bar fronts! We will walk you through all of the things you need to know, so that you can make the best decision for your day!

Bar: Oak and Ash Events; Photo: Cornelia Zaiss Photography


How many do you actually need? Well, that depends on your guest count, AND how much your guests like to drink! We’ve done smaller weddings with packed bar lines, and larger weddings with lowkey bar lines. It really all depends on your guests! The general rule of thumb is 50 guests for every 1 bartender for a full service bar. If you’re just doing beer and wine, you can probably get away with 1 bartender for every 75 guests. So if you have 125 guests for a full service open bar, we would recommend 3 bartenders. Some bars have 1 bartender, and some have 2. If you do one large bar, you may have 2 or 3 bartenders behind it. Knowing how many bartenders you’re hiring, and what size your bar options are, will help you determine how many actual bar set ups you need. Remember, Cocktail Hour is always busier than your Reception, so make sure to have more bartenders available! Tip: If you want to stop a large bar line from happening when Cocktail Hour starts, have your caterer pass champagne, water, beer, and your signature cocktail for the first 15 minutes to take the heat off the bar!

Bar: Vivant Rentals; Photo: Justin DeMutiis Photography


Whoever you have hired to handle bar service at your wedding, we’re sure they're going to be amazing! But does the bar itself match the atmosphere? Let’s chat about some options!

Barbacks: There will almost always be a place behind the bar where glassware, and additional liquor will be stored throughout the event. This is called the bar back. A barback can be anything from a buffet table with a linen, to an antique wood bookcase, to a gold display shelf with glass shelving. While you can definitely opt for the buffet table with linens for a classic and clean look, a decorative and unique bar back can help add height, dimension, and style to your bar setting. Anything that can be rented to help enhance your overall theme is always recommended especially to display florals, glassware, or even fun personal framed photos! At the end of the day, a successful theme comes down to the details!!

Buffet Tables with Linens: If your venue doesn’t have a bar, or they only have one bar and your guest count calls for 2, this is what you will be working with. Simple buffet tables with black or white linens will get the job done, if needed. While the bartenders will absolutely ensure that the set up looks clean and professional, it will not necessarily be pretty or vibey!

Bar: Catering by Lundy’s; Photo: Love and Covenant

Bar Front: Can we just talk for a second about how much we love options!? I mean really though…There are likely dozens of rental companies in your area, and most of them probably have 5-10 unique bar front options to choose from! If your venue has a bar in your reception space, but they plan to throw up buffet tables for cocktail hour, rent a bar front! If your venue’s bar fronts are not nice looking, or they don’t have bar fronts at all, rent a bar front! You can never go wrong with adding more style to your wedding day by adding a bar front that matches your wedding theme and colors!

Bar: Vivant Rentals; Photo: Justin DeMutiis Photography

Mobile Bar: Oh, the mobile bar. What can we say? We’re a tiny bit obsessed! Some of our favorite outdoor weddings have rounded out the experience with a mobile bar and it was a hit! Guests love the unique experience of getting their beverages from a mobile bar, because it gives ice cream cart/food truck vibes, and who doesn’t love that?! It’s like you just know when you get food or a drink from a cart or truck, it's going to be good! PLUS, hello vibes! If you want the best bar photos ever, 11/10 would recommend a mobile bar. Trust us!

Bar: The Wandering Whale; Photo: Angela Moon Photography

Themed Bars: While we love a pretty bar, we think a pretty bar that has a theme really just elevates the entire experience. We love how personal and unique themed bars are, and how they invite your guests into a space that is exclusive to you! But what kinds of themes are we talking about exactly? Well, that's the fun part! There really are no rules! Maybe you want a full-on martini bar because espresso martinis are your guilty pleasure and you want your guests to indulge in the martini of their choice. (Here at MDP we love a good martini!!) Or maybe you two met on vacay in Mexico and so you want to have a margarita bar. Or maybe you want a bar that is just for bourbon because the groom and his guys are huge bourbon fans. There are so many different options, and the only rule is: make it personal! We can never get enough of elements that are important and personal to our couples on their wedding day!

Bar: The Wandering Whale; Photo: Deanna Grace Photography/Hannah T. Photography

There are so many other styles of bars to choose from that can play into your vibe, budget, and vision! Whether you want all white, wooden, tropical, or customized! Vendors love to get fun requests to do something different, and specific rental companies can even build a bar for you with your personalized monogram as the front decor!

Bar: Wandering Whale; Photo: Deanna Grace Photography/Hannah T. Photography


Photos: A well placed bar front is a great way to add to the aesthetic of your wedding, without having to bring in more decor and give a true event experience for your guests to always remember. It is a functional piece that also serves the vibes! Plus, when you look back at your wedding photos, you’re probably not going to be obsessing over the white or black linened buffet tables that were put together for a makeshift bar. But that cute mobile bar that all of your guests are STILL talking about? You’ll love seeing those photos! Or that gorgeous emerald bar that was a literal showstopper when your guests arrived at cocktail hour? Wow! We just love that for you.

Bar: The Wandering Whale; Photo: Miranda Rose Photography

Whatever you decide to go with, we know that your wedding will be beautiful! But when it comes to that elevated, luxurious guest experience we know you want, trust the experts and rent the bar! We promise that when you look back at photos, you will not regret it!

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