How To Successfully Organise A DIY Bar For Your Wedding Day

Mobile horse box bar with pink flowers | Essex Wedding Planner

Image Credit: Terri & Lori Fine Art Photography & Film

Typically, DIY bars are popular with couples who are hosting their wedding within a temporary structure, such as a marquee or a dry hire venue. However, due to the additional planning hours needed when organising a wedding of this style, ensuring a DIY bar is well stocked and well organised is a step too far for many couples who instead choose to hire the services of a professional bar company.

Whilst for some couples the organising of a DIY bar is a task they would rather not add to their never ending to do list, there are also couples that welcome the challenge and choose to offer this style of bar to their guests to enjoy on their wedding day.

If you are taking this route, then fuelling your guests with their preferred tipple is key to ensuring  that a fun time is had by all.

With so many things to remember whilst in the midst of planning what is probably the biggest day of your life, it’s easy to see how key factors which are essential in ensuring the beverages flow freely are often overlooked. So, to help you along the way and to hopefully keep any mishaps to a minimum, I have put together a selection of top tips and points to remember. Which, I hope will help ensure your DIY bar is remembered for all the right reasons.

Wedding bar set up | Essex Wedding Planner

Image Credit: Terri & Lori Fine Art Photography & Film 

Points to remember

  • It’s often wrongly assumed that a DIY bar will run itself, which is definitely not the case.  If your budget allows, hiring professional bar staff via a bar company or your caterers will ensure that your bar runs smoothly.  If this is not an option then you will need to allocate someone to be in charge of replenishing the bar, collecting empty bottles and glasses as well as washing glasses once they have been used.
  • Missing items such as fruit to garnish the drinks, knifes and chopping boards needed to prepare the fruit, bottle openers, corkscrews, optics and paper straws.  All of which are essential items needed to run a successful DIY bar.  However, these items are often missed off the packing list.
  • A shortage of ice is probably the most common DIY bar disaster.  Never underestimate the amount of ice you need to ensure your guests drinks are served chilled.  Taking special care to take into account any ice you may require to fill ice buckets if you intend to offer bottles of alcohol to your guests from a beer bucket or similar.
  • Lack of refrigeration is another common error associated with a DIY bar.  Ideally, you should have fridges within your bar unit which can be replenished as and when required with bottles taken from a fridge hidden away in a storage area. This will ensure that you have a constant flow of cold beverages available for your guests.
  • Running dry is a big no no.  Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to ensure this doesn’t happen.  However, as a general guide, I advise couples to expect their guests to each have 2-3 drinks throughout their canapé reception, half a bottle of wine with wedding breakfast, a glass of bubbles for the toast drink and 4-6 drinks during the evening reception, (based on a 4 hour evening reception). It’s always best to over estimate and if possible purchase your alcohol on a sale or return basis, which allows you to return any unopened alcohol in exchange for a refund.
  • Water and lots of it.  It’s often under estimated how many bottles of water your guests will request.  Always ensure that there is an abundance of chilled water available for your guests throughout the daytime and evening reception.

Two cocktails on mobile bar with pink flowers | Essex Wedding Planner

Image Credit: Terri & Lori Fine Art Photography & Film

Top tips

Hopefully my points to remember have set you on the right track to ensuring your DIY bar will be a roaring success. To help you further, I have listed below a small selection of my top tips which offers additional advice to help ensure all runs smoothly.

  • If your guests are helping themselves to bottles from a beer bucket, attach a bottle opener to the bucket via a long piece of string.  This will ensure the bottle opener does not go missing half way through the evening.
  • Offer iced water and a further soft drink alternative to guests via a kilner jar positioned on the bar.  Guests can then help themselves rather than having to wait to be served by your bartender.
  • Try and position the bar area as close as possible to the storage area where the additional drinks are being refrigerated.  This saves valuable time for the person in charge of re-stocking the bar.

Champagne in flute with blackberries and edible flowers

Image Credit: Terri & Lori Fine Art photography & Film

I hope that this blog post has given you a little guidance on how to ensure your DIY bar runs smoothly.  However, if you require further advice relating to any aspect of planning your wedding and your wedding is taking place within Essex, Suffolk, Kent, Hertfordshire or Cambridgeshire, then I would love to hear from you.


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Organising a DIY Bar | Essex Wedding Planner


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Essex wedding planner Hayley Jayne Weddings & Events in garden

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Hayley Jayne Weddings & Events
Brentwood, Essex

01277 226785
07889 171453

About Hayley

With a keen eye for detail, organisational skills that are second to none and the love of a “to do” list it was inevitable that Hayley would become an events planner. She started her career within the legal profession and was a Personal Assistant for 14 years before training with the UKAWP to become a professional wedding and events planner and then going on to launch “Hayley Jayne Weddings & Events”.

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Hayley Jayne Weddings & Events trained with the UKAWP