top of page

Hilltop’s Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Wedding Bar

At Hilltop Wedding Center you can completely customize your bar to be the best fit for you. Here are some tips and tricks to get it just right.

What to serve?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t require every type of liquor to appeal to your guests. Some of the best laid out bars actually limit what they are serving. Here are a few examples:

  • Champagne Bar - Just as the title suggests, the only item served is Champagne.

  • Mimosa Bar - Similar to a champagne bar, but with an elevated twist of unique flavours.

  • Beer & Wine - Why stress over what each guests like to drink? Give them a choice that is sure to satisfy the majority of your guests while keeping down cost of mix and garnishes.

  • Planned Menu - A little planning goes a long way! Serving 5 or 6 of your favourite drinks gives guests a great selection while again controlling the amount of alcohol and mix required for the evening.

Open Bar vs Cash Bar

Now that you have settled on what you are serving you need to decide between an open bar, cash bar, or something in between. It’s no secret that this often becomes a debate between etiquette and practicality. Etiquette will always say it is customary to have an open bar, but as over consumption and the costs of weddings has increased, the idea of a cash bar has become increasingly popular.

  • Open Bar - The host covers the cost of all alcohol consumed.

  • Modified Open Bar - The host covers the cost of drinks for the “cocktail hour” and offers wine service during dinner. All other drinks are the responsibility of the guests. Alternatively, covering 1 drink from the bar and/or a glass of wine, is also considered a modified open bar.

  • Cash Bar - Guests are responsible for the cost of their drinks, often paid for directly at the bar.

  • Toonie or Three Dollar Bar - A popular option between guests and couples, this will cover the majority of the bar expenses and keep the drinks affordable for guests.

Hydration Station

Always make sure you have alternatives to alcoholic beverages. Lots of water, punch, coffee or tea. This encourages your guests to break from the booze, while minimizing line ups at the bar from self serve items.

TIP: Drink Dispensers work great and save on costs, while selecting cans over 2 litre jugs save on messy spills. Don’t forget we have drink dispensers and coffee urns for your convenience. :)

Liquor License & ProServe Certified Bartenders

The Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission requires you to obtain a Liquor License to be able to sell or provide liquor at private events, including weddings. This can be done through their website:

In conjunction with AGCL, at Hilltop we require you to have one ProServe Certified Bartender for every 100 guests in attendance. It’s common that our couples already have family friends that are certified and willing to help, this is totally fine with us as long as they have an active ProServe certificate, however if you are considering a professional Bartender, check out our post “Why Hire a Professional Bartender”.

TIP: Ensure you bartenders are also responsible to clear tables of drinks and pack up the bar at the end of the night.

Hilltop Bar Checklist

Download our handy dandy bar checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

Bar Checklist
Download PDF • 1.57MB

Image Credit

Photographer: Candy Koated Studio

Coordinator & Stylist: Engaged by Darcie


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page