If you really want to serve signature cocktails your guests won't soon forget, consider surprising friends and family with a specialty bar.
Photography: Erich McVey1 of 17
There are a lot of cool, unique ways to decorate the bars at your cocktail hour and reception, but it's time to start thinking beyond décor. If you want to serve signature drinks your guests won't soon forget, consider surprising friends and family with a specialty bar. In addition to serving a selection of beer, wine, and cocktails at a standard bar, designate a station where guests can order one or two special drinks of your choosing.
If you're wondering how this will differ from your signature cocktail, the short answer is that it doesn't have to. You can plan a bar that's devoted entirely to your personalized drink, or you can create a station where guests can go specifically to grab beer, wine, or another spirit. Big-batch cocktails are an especially popular option for a specialty bar, as your bartender or caterer can pre-mix many servings of the drink and have it available for guests all evening long. Options like sangria, alcoholic punch, or margaritas are the perfect choices for this display since they're easy to make ahead and taste even better with time.
Aside from looking cool and giving guests a new libation experience, a specialty bar is actually incredibly functional. By serving your signature cocktail at its own bar, especially if it's a drink that can be time-consuming to make, you'll cut down the wait time at the main bars. Similarly, by setting out serve yourself beer or wine stations, anyone who doesn't require the help of a bartender can get another drink with ease. The most important thing to remember is that you'll always want these stations staffed. Even if guests will simply be grabbing a drink, you'll want someone there to answer questions, refresh the display, and ensure no one is being overserved.
Photography: Lisa Ziesing for Abby Jiu Photography2 of 17
Guests at this wedding were treated to a tonic bar, which allowed them the choice of either ordering their favorite drink made using the fizzy water or choosing from the bride and groom's favorites. For the build your own portion, the couple selected a mix of different tonics, alcohols, and garnishes for a truly personalized experience.
Photography: Brklyn View Photography3 of 17
Champagne-based cocktails were mixed up on the lawn of this wedding so guests could skip the long line at the bar and grab a signature sip instead. The festive display, perfect for a fall wedding, surely enticed thirtsy party-goers.
Photography: Greg Finck4 of 17
Serving your favorite wine just got a whole lot cooler. Sure, you can set up a bar devoted just to the varietals you love, but why not hire a truck to pour glasses for guests instead?
Photography: Mike Cassimatis5 of 17
Surprise your groom with his very own Scotch bar, featuring his favorite bottles. It's the perfect occasion to break out the good stuff, especially because the guys will be flocking here all evening long.
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Photography: Bamber Photography6 of 17
Signature Cocktail Bar
If you love your signature cocktail, then make it the star of the party. This couple used a reclaimed cart as a spot where guests could watch the bartender mix up the strawberry and Campari cocktail.
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It's not just about what you serve at your specialty bar, but how you serve it. Bartenders stationed in this adorable airstream trailer mixed up pomegranate whiskey sours, bourbon-thyme smashes, and pear gimlets, but our guess is that guests really came to check out the cool digs.
Photography: White Loft Studio8 of 17
What's more fun than a DIY pre-ceremony cocktail? This rustic station was stocked with all the necessities for sangria, mimosas, and bellinis.
Photography: Michelle March9 of 17
If you and your groom are big craft beer drinkers, consider displaying and serving them in a special way during cocktail hour or the reception. Here, an antique wagon housed chilled beer bottles for guests to grab as they pleased.
Photography: Jenn Kavanagh Photography10 of 17
Not big on beer, wine, or cocktails? Create a seasonal cider bar, where guests can pour a chilled glass of your favorite hard cider and snack on treats like macarons and caramel apples.
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Photography: Jodi & Kurt Photography11 of 17
Wine barrels were used as the base of this sangria bar, giving a nod to the main ingredient in the couple's signature drink. To balance out taste preferences, the bride and groom also had Old Fashioneds available. The most important thing to note about this bar is that the cocktails are pre-prepared, meaning guests can pick up a cocktail on their way to the reception without any wait.
Photography: Rachel Havel Photography12 of 17
What's a summer wedding without a chilled glass of rosé? Two types of the pink drink were on offer at this wedding.
Photography: Katie Stoops Photography13 of 17
This bride's mother dreamed up the couple's vodka-based signature punch, which was mixed and served in a 1910 Limoges punch bowl.
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Bourbon and Cigar Bar
Bourbon and cigars were displayed on an antique whiskey barrel for guests to enjoy at this indoor-outdoor wedding reception.
Photography: Julie Paisley Photography15 of 17
Give your guests the opportunity to refill their own glasses with a bar dedicated to wine. Bottles of wine and pretty glassware were displayed on a table for easy access.
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Photography: Sara Richardson Photography16 of 17
Set up a sipping station where your guests can try moonshine—just make sure it's the legal stuff, which is typically a clear, unaged whiskey that's been commercially made.
Photography: onelove photography17 of 17
Once the reception started, this antique sewing machine was transformed into a champagne bar. Pretty glass decanters were filled with different juices and chilled bottles of champagne were available for guests to pour into flutes.