Wedding Libations | The Source Weekly - Bend

Wedding Libations

From open bars to no-host, options abound for reception drinking

So, you've decided to tie the knot and need to figure out how you're going to wet your guests' whistles during the reception?

Depending on your venue, there are options.

Wedding Libations
Drinking at weddings is a time-honored tradition. Just make sure Aunt Sally has a ride home!

Those who have an unlimited budget may choose to use an open bar—basically a free-for-all for guests, and maybe a way to have the reception turn into something movies are made from. Guests can order whatever they'd like from the bar, leaving the bride and groom—or whoever is funding the soiree—on the hook for the tab plus gratuity. An open bar averages about $2,800, according to the Bridal Association of America.

Another option is the limited bar, or a selection of drinks chosen by the reception's hosts. Most couples put a cap on the amount of money they're willing to spend. The average is between $2,000 to $3,000, according to Robert Cammelletti, a long time food and beverage manager in Bend (disclosure: he also works here). This is a pretty common option where the guests often get a few choices of beer or wine, but if you want to hit the hard stuff, be prepared to hand over your credit card or bring cash. Places like McMenamins offer this version of getting your drink on.

There's also the cash bar—inviting people to share in the wedded bliss, but making them foot the bill for their libations. In this version, guests are responsible for paying for all of their drinks—often including sodas or bottled water.

"I strongly discourage clients from considering a cash bar. It creates an awkward experience for all involved: the host is perceived as being cheap (whether that's true or not is irrelevant), guests may not have cash on hand, and it slows down the flow of service at the bar," Chancey Charm wrote on its blog. "As an alternative, consider options that make your guests feel spoiled without breaking the bank by either reconsidering your guest count, providing a limited selection or only beer and wine, or closing the bar a little early before the reception ends!"

When renting a public space, check with the Oregon Liquor Commission and either the city or county where you're getting married about the rules for providing alcohol. According to the City of Bend, glass containers are not allowed in City parks—meaning it's classy plastic cups for the guests.

For people who want more control, there's always the option of using a private house or property. Couples can hire their favorite bartender and have their own version of "Cocktail" play out in the backyard watching the Tom Cruise wannabe do bottle tricks and pour drinks.

Some breweries in Central Oregon also host weddings and receptions. In this model, patrons should really like the beer they pour, because that's what they're limited to. For the breweries that have full OLCC licenses, guests can order cocktails as well.

According to The Knot, an online wedding planning website, couples planning to stock the bar themselves should first check to see if the venue charges a corkage fee, so they can incorporate that cost into the total alcohol budget. Here's an idea for a list that would serve 100 guests for approximately four hours, according to The Knot:

Your Shopping List:


Beer: 5 to 6 cases

Whiskey: 1 liter

Bourbon: 1 liter

Gin: 2 to 3 liters

Scotch: 2 liters

Rum: 2 liters

Vodka: 6 liters

Tequila: 1 liter

Champagne: 1 to 1 1/2 cases (include an additional 18 bottles for a champagne toast)

Red wine: 2 cases

White wine: 3 1/2 cases

Dry vermouth: 1 liter

Sweet vermouth: 1 liter


Tonic: 1 case

Club soda: 1 case

Cranberry juice: 2 gallons

Orange juice: 1 gallon

Grapefruit juice: 1 gallon

Ginger ale: 1 case

Triple sec: 1 liter

Lime juice: 1 gallon

Sparkling water: 2 cases

Bottled water: 3 cases

Diet coke: 2 cases

Coke: 2 cases