Wedding Bar: How to DIY the RIGHT way

Tips from the Pros

Wedding Bar Tips - Ottawa Wedding Photographer

So you’ve likely already read my post about the 5 reasons to hire a bartender for you wedding. If not, have a look! The same people who have given me the tips for this post helped me write up that one and it’s full of great information.

Onto the good stuff. BOOZE. On your wedding day, there is a fine line. You want guests to have fun but not get to the point of total intoxication, so here are some tips from Ottawa Mobile Bartenders. You don’t want just anyone running the bar. If you chose to hire a bartender, then great! You can skip this one.

BUT If you’re planning on DIYing your bar, keep on reading. It’s important to you and your guests so it should be important in the planning process as well! The importance of bar services at your wedding is often overlooked but when you get it right, it can be amazing!

Wedding Bar Tips - Ottawa Wedding Photographer
Wedding Bar Tips - Ottawa Wedding Photographer
  1. Make sure you’re prepared

    You want to wow your guests so you’re going to need garnishes, a prep station and proper bar supplies. These include things like a place to chill your drinks, a shaker, ice, funnel, stainer. Honestly, you can get a really nice mixology set from William Sanoma or even but be sure to have those tools readily available for the bar.

  2. Know how much your guests will drink

    The average estimate for weddings is this : two drinks per person in the first hour and then one drink an hour per guest. That’s not counting wine on the tables, so if you wanted table wines,, be sure to prep accordingly.

  3. Special Occasions Permit

    AGCO - Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario - requires people to purchase a special occasions permit to be able to sell alcohol anywhere that isn’t a licensed establishment - if you want to provide anything from a cash bar to a toonie bar, you’re asking for money from your guests, so you are selling the alcohol. They also require you have the permit if you don’t intend to sell the alcohol. This is to make sure everyone is safe, no one drives while consuming and there is someone responsible for the distribution of alcohol. You need to be aware that the responsibility of those things rest on your shoulders. You don’t want to get caught and end up with a fine, or worse someone getting hurt on your big day when the permit is just 50$(no sale permit) and 150$ (sale permit)

  4. KEGS

    Don’t use kegs if you have a same day set up. The beer will be mostly foam and warm if you have them delivered to your event hours before the drinking starts. Kegs need time (suggested overnight) to settle and chill. Don’t move the keg around the day of either - it can create more foam, and nobody wants that, so it should be chilled and set where it’s getting served.

  5. Hydration station

    Have non-alcoholic options for when people need a break from the booze and for those guests who don’t want to drink. Maybe they’re DD, maybe they’re breastfeeding, maybe they just don’t drink. They need to get hydrated too! Get pop and mixes in cans for them. 2L bottles are big and awkward and primed for creating spills (plus they don’t look as good).


If you’re providing a cash bar, have a proper float for the night. Get a lockbox for the cash - yes even at private events and backyard weddings, you never know who might be feeling tipsy and want to snag a few extra dollars from the bar jar.

Wedding Bar Tips - Ottawa Wedding Photographer

Big shout out to Ottawa Mobile Bartenders for always being on top of their game, and taking some time to answer my questions while providing these amazing tips for y’all!