Here’s How to Be Smart About the Make-Your-Own Cocktail Bar Trend at Weddings 

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Recently, we saw a story about how various make-your-own-cocktail bars—with vodka and Bloody Marys, champagne and mimosas, etc.—were becoming quite the trend at weddings, and a few things about this caused us to raise our eyebrows:

Like, make-your-own meaning guests are literally wielding their own bottles, pouring their own pours? Wouldn’t couples go through a bajillion gallons of alcohol this way? Wouldn’t this lend itself to guests getting rather potentially bombed? Such a thing can easy happen at just an open bar, after all—and this is a seriously amped-up open bar.


So, we reached out to a few catering buds of ours in the wedding business, and this is basically the gist, in case you were considering such a thing at your own wedding here in the Philadelphia area.

"Bubble Bars" are actually quickly becoming one of the most popular bar upgrades at the Please Touch Museum, according to Kimberly Rifici, who is Brûlée Catering's general manager at the landmark Philly venue. But here's the thing: there's still a bartender actually pouring the drinks, as it is illegal to have guests pour their own liquor in an establishment that carries a liquor license. So, the bartender pours the glass of champagne, hands it over, and then the guests doctor up their bubbly with the bar's tasty spread of berries, syrups, and garnishes.

And as for a different sort of situation—say, if you were having your wedding under a sprawling, softly lit tent in Mom and Dad's back yard? You will probably find that most caterers are not cool with just setting up a make-your-own cocktail bar and letting guests have at it. Laura Shoup, an event designer and manager with Jeffrey Miller Catering, says that they won't do that, due to the potential liability nightmare that could result from someone drinking too much and then having their night end badly. Because it's not just the catering company that could be held liable—but the bride and groom themselves, and maybe even the hosting parents. Sounds like a pretty fair point to us.

So if you love the idea of a pretty spread at your celebration where guests are doctoring up their own drinks, talk to your caterer about arranging it—just make sure to designate a professional who's actually pouring them.

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