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DIY Wedding Bar: How to Set Up a DIY Budget-Friendly Drinks Station

DIY wedding bar

Featured image: Finn Lively Photo.


Humans have been drinking alcohol for aeons (there’s evidence a fermented rice beverage was being produced as early as 9,000 years ago) and while a lot has changed since then (thankfully), consuming a tasty beverage is something many of us are very enthusiastic about, especially at weddings – when it’s plentiful, free and complimenting delicious food.

For couples, nailing your wedding bar is a surefire way to guarantee a good time. After all, alcohol is the ultimate social lubricant. If your intention is to set up a DIY wedding bar however, there are a few things to consider first, such as:


1. How much alcohol you need

We thought we’d kick things off with the most important consideration – calculating how much alcohol you need for your wedding. There’s nothing worse than running out of booze at a wedding and if you rely on Google to do the maths, you could find yourself in a bit of strife (the consensus across several websites was to factor one drink per-person, per hour. Trust us, this is way too general).

Instead, we’d suggest using Dan Murphy’s party planner drinks calculator. It utilises data collected from thousands of customer’s events to determine how much alcohol you need with almost pinpoint accuracy. We’ve also written an entire blog post on the subject with some helpful tips, which you can read in full here.

The rule of thumb when it comes to ordering alcohol though is to always buy more than you think you need. If you buy through Dan Murphy’s Wedding & Events Services, anything that is leftover and unopened can be returned for a full refund. It’s part of their ‘buy-back service’ – which has given countless couples peace of mind when it comes to ordering their drinks. 


2. The location

Not all wedding venues are the same and those that offer the option to set up a DIY budget-friendly drinks station often require couples to provide more than just the alcohol. Find out if the venue already has a dedicated area / space for serving drinks (ie. a bar) or if there is a sensible spot to set one up that is close to all the action and that can survive any weather (this is where hiring a mobile bar is a good option). You’ll also need light for when it gets dark. 

Also survey what the access is like – will you need a wheelbarrow or some extra muscle to cart all the alcohol to the DIY wedding bar or can you unload it straight from the boot? This information is particularly helpful if you’re organising to have all your drinks delivered directly from the supplier (shout-out to our mates at Dan Murphy’s who also offer a seamless delivery via their dedicated and FREE Wedding and Events Services). 


3. The drinks list

Deciding what drinks to serve at your wedding is a big deal – mostly because you’re going to be buying it in bulk. These days, there are so many options available, which makes decision-making even trickier because it’s impossible to try them all (trust us, we’ve given it a red hot crack). 

For a lot of couples, it usually comes down to whatever tastes good while also being budget-friendly. Dan Murphy’s is the first place most couples go to for two reasons: it has  the largest range of wines, beer, and spirits from Australia and overseas (2,000+ and counting); the prices are lower than those of any other liquor retailer. They also offer free tasting kits for couples who are nervous to buy before they try and the cost of the kit is deducted from any future order, meaning they’re free (because realistically, unless you’re in the booze business why would you shop anywhere else when organising a DIY wedding bar?).

Remember to provide a variety of drinks (beer, wine and champagne being the norm, although cocktails are becoming more and more popular) and some decent non-alcoholic options, too. Lastly, don’t forget to have plenty of water readily available or things could get very messy, very quickly – especially if you’re getting hitched in the warmer months.


4. Keeping it cool

One way to kill the mood at a wedding is by serving alcohol at room temperature. It sounds obvious but remembering that alcohol needs to be kept (and served) ice-cold is something that often gets overlooked. Some venues have refrigeration facilities available, while others will require you to come up with your own solution. 

Bags of ice are effective if someone is able to deliver them close to kick-off (remember, they melt). Otherwise hiring a cool room or a mobile bar is a fail-proof alternative. Just be sure to double check if there is easy access to power or if a generator is required, especially if you’re tying the knot somewhere remote or on a private property.


5. Other Amenities and Inclusions

To successfully set up a DIY wedding bar it’s important to have a clear checklist of what amenities and inclusions are available through your wedding venue or if you’re required to literally DIY everything. Such as:

  • Staff. Do you require RSA qualified staff to pour and serve drinks throughout the night or will it be self-serve?
  • Glassware. Is this provided or do you have to BYO? 
  • Decorations. Do you have a particular theme or colour scheme in mind? Some decorations to help style and define the space is always a nice touch. Think flowers, festoon lights, signage, table cloths etc. 
  • Wet weather options. Does the venue have a wet-weather alternative or do you need to have a back-up plan (like a marquee or pop-up tent, for example)?
  • Wash station. Who is going to be in charge of collecting and washing up all the glassware? Is there a dedicated area to do this?
  • Rubbish removal. Who is responsible for ensuring all the rubbish is disposed of properly – you or the venue? Keep in mind, 100 people drinking bottled drinks for six hours generates close to eight wheelie-bins full of glass recyclables alone.


6. Extra Trimmings

If having a budget-friendly drinks station is your main priority, jump ahead to our seventh point. If however, you have a little wiggle room it’s nice to include some extra trimmings to help make your DIY wedding bar feel a little fancy.

Some ideas include personalised signage or labels (and instructions, if needed), garnishes or a signature cocktail or mocktail. You could also have a small, enclosed ice vessel with tongs for anyone to individually add ice cubes if needed to a beverage. 


7. Consider sustainability

According to a study by the sustainability consultancy Edge Impact in 2020, the average American wedding emits 57,152 kilograms of CO2. You would need to plant 2,722 trees to offset this. Our guess is that the stats around weddings in Australia would be frighteningly similar.

The point we’re trying to make is that setting up a DIY wedding bar provides an opportunity to minimise your impact on the environment. Avoid single-use items and non-recyclables (like napkins and plastic straws) and instead opt for glassware or reusable plastic (you can rent these or look for them second-hand on Wedshare).

Rather than individual bottles, have refillable dispensers for water and/or pre-chilled cocktails (this also requires less ice, which is a big) bonus and if you really want to get on Mother Nature’s good side, seek out alcohol producers who are committed to sustainable practices and produce organic or biodynamic wines (the dedicated team at Dan Murphy’s Wedding and Events Services will be able to give you options to suit any budget). 


Ready for a drink? Learn more about Dan Murphy’s Wedding & Events Services here – their friendly, drinks-loving team will make organising your wedding and engagement party beverages a cinch. 



Searching for mobile bars and alcohol servers? Find a collection of amazing ones here.

Discover We Do Crew: the wedding planning membership that’s like having a wedding planner in your pocket.

Set up an online wedding gift registry over at Gravy: it’s the most unique, heart-felt registry in the world.

27th June, 2023

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