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Party Planning/Bartenders at a Wedding Reception


Hello, John.   I am planning a wedding reception and need your advice and wisdom regarding how many bartenders and how many bars I should have at my party.  We plan to have 135 guests and will have an "open bar" serving soft drinks, beer, wine, and liquor, including mixed drinks.  We will start the reception with a cocktail hour (lasting approximately one and a half hours) with passed hot hors d'oeuvres.  Then, we will move our guests to the main banquet hall of our venue for a buffet dinner and dancing.  How many separate bar setups should we have for this number of guests?  How many bartenders should we have for this number of guests?  Should we have one bar with one bartender, one bar with two bartenders, two bars with one bartender each at both the cocktail hour room and in the main banquet hall?  When hosting such a reception, how does one determine how many bars and bartenders that one needs to keep the party flowing without having annoying or socially inappropriate long lines during the party?  Thanks.


That's such a difficult question to answer. The reason is because I don't know you, your guests, your culture or therefore their celebration and drinking habits.

Here's my experience of hundreds of weddings here in the UK.
Generally Reception drinks are served on trays on arrival. Those wanting further drinks would visit a bar. Whether your guests would feel a need to drink more that early I am unable to say .. so personally would feel that one bar manned by one barman should suffice at the Reception for those not able to drink what is on offer on the trays.

During the 'breakfast' (sit down meal) generally wine is served at the tables and the same bar and barman should suffice for the few who wish for an alternative drink.

After the meal is another matter. I think that perhaps two bars (or one larger bar)would be needed with 3 - 4 servers.

The truth is that your caterers / bar suppliers should know all this and would offer you best advice based on the selection of alcohol you order bearing in mind the drinking habits of your locality. I can tell you that weddings in some parts of the UK are totally different from regions just 50 miles away. There ARE no rules :-)


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John Gordon


Stuck for ideas? I can help with ideas on theming, entertainment and anything creative. I specialise in the unusual and have created party experiences for small gatherings right up to large international corporations. I have a great original idea that is totally flexible and personalises the party in a way that touches people.


I have been involved with Corporate and Private Events for many years. I both organise and provide entertainment at a wide range from house parties, anniversaries, celebrations, fun days, conferences, seminars, workshops and street parties.

I gained a degree in Graphic Design and Communication and worked as a Creative Director and Design Consultant for over 20 years. My consultancy Gordon Ollis Design gained commissions from leading International Blue Chip companies and won awards for the work we produced. Since then I've worked in the event industry being involved with theming and entertainment at a wide variety of parties, events and celebrations

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