This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.

One of the most difficult to navigate pieces of the wedding planning process is what to do about alcohol. In most of my couples’ perfect worlds, an open bar with unlimited options is the ideal solution. However, it is rare that budget (as well as safety and logistics) allow for such, and we must find creative ways to tackle the elusive and potentially expensive alcohol situation.

Why Signature Cocktails? Because open bars are expensive

While beer, wine, and champagne bars are the most cost effective solutions, they can be a bit bland. The use of specialty cocktails (even for a limited period of time during the event) can be a great addition to your guest’s experience. By serving a small selection of thoughtful and festive cocktails, you will add to your event’s atmosphere while reducing the need for numerous types of glassware, alcohol, and garnish typically required to stock a fully open bar.

Picking a Signature Cocktail

Unless you have a die-hard favorite cocktail that you drink on every appropriate (and maybe inappropriate?) occasion, it can be hard to find the *perfect* fit for your special day. Here are some ideas to help you pick something super special (and delicious)!

Colorful pink cocktail

Photo Credit: Carolyn Wilson Events // Photo courtesy of U Me Us Studios 


Why not make your signature cocktail part of the wedding design? For a flirtatious garden affair, try something that sparkles in pink or purple. For an elegant ballroom soiree, a champagne cocktail with a golden sugar rim can add to the stylish atmosphere.

Choose the right vessel

Photo Credit: Carolyn Wilson Events // Photo Courtesy of U Me Us Studios 


You can make anything work if you present it well enough! Even a good old brewski can be jazzed up by being served in an interesting way. Mason jars are great for rustic affairs, keepsake wine glasses are fun and functional, and colored glasses will add interest to your beverage display.

Dirty Birdy MIRA

Photo Credit: MIRA Events + Design // Photo by Viera Photographics 


If your favorite cocktail doesn’t already have an entertaining namesake, make one up for your event! For a Love Birds themed wedding we did last year, the signature dirty martini was redubbed The Dirty Birdy.

Wedding Party Personalities

Along the same lines as above, using the bride, groom, or even all members of the wedding party’s names to denote various drink options can be a fun and potentially hilarious way to jazz up your bar. Is the bride a girly girl with a love of all things fabulous? Name the strawberry-champagne spritzer after her. Is the groom quiet and reserved? His drink can be an Old Fashion.

Exotic cocktail

Photo Credit: MIRA Events + Design // Photo by Apollo Fotografie

Exotic Ingredients

Are you having a destination or travel inspired wedding? Infused your signature drink with hints of a world palette. Mangos, dragon fruit, authentic sake¦. Inspiration can be found in all corners of the world!

Make your own bar

Photo Credit: MIRA Events + Design // Photo by MLE Jayne

Make-Your-Own Bars

It’s a fact- people like having control. What better way to ensure your guests enjoy your wedding beverages than allowing guests to create them? Setting up a champagne or mimosa bar with a variety of mixing options and lots of garnish can be a cost effective and fun way to make sure everyone gets a little bit of what they love.

Magic glasses

Photo Credit:  Sharpshooter SF Traveling Cocktail Bar // Photo courtesy of FreshBash

Add Some Magic!

Smoke and mirrors people- it’s the oldest trick in the book! Using liquid nitrogen to keep your glasses looking and feeling cool is a great way to add atmosphere to your bar!


Photo Credit: MIRA Events + Design // Photo by Apollo Fotografie


Be careful, offering shots at your wedding can get real crazy, real quick. However, if you and your guests are of the daring sort and your venue permits it, specialty shots served for limited (key word here!) amounts of time during your reception can be really fun. One wedding we worked had a row of Fireball shots lined up at the bar every time the song Fireball played during the reception.

Time of Year

You might be throwing a tropical themed soiree in the middle of winter, but that does not mean your guests want to sip on an ice cold beverage. Similarly, offering a beverage that ties into the weather, season, or even an upcoming holiday can be both fun and cost effective as the necessary ingredients will likely be readily available (and maybe even on sale!) during that time.

Living bag

Photos Credit: Entire Productions

Living Bars/Performance Servers

Depending on the type of talent that fits your theme and space, there are endless possibilities for creativity here! Even boring champagne can take on a whole new life if it’s served by an aerial acrobat suspended from the ceiling!

Above all, don’t make things complicated

As fun as it can be to dream up an interactive, ultra-styled bar for your wedding or next event, don’t let anything take away from your guest’s ability to enjoy a refreshing drink (and more importantly, celebrate YOU on your special day). Remember to take venue policies and restrictions into consideration, and ask your caterer and planner for help. Bottoms up!

Bio: MIRA Events + Design offers customized, professional special event and wedding coordination and design services for the greater Phoenix area and Northern California destinations. We pride ourselves in being the go-to source for a fun, beautiful and unique special event or wedding planning experience. Our services include full event or wedding coordination and design, day-of wedding coordination and partial planning. Other a la carte services are available upon special request, and we are happy to provide a complimentary initial consultation for those seeking some basic guidance before beginning (or even during) their event planning adventure.

The owner and operator of MIRA Events, Miranda Meisenbach, is a Professional Wedding Consultant certified by the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants who has over 8 years of wedding and event planning experience. For great ideas, see the MIRA Events website.

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