“Marriage is punishment for shoplifting in some countries.” – Wayne Campbell.

Wedding season is among us and for those that Guy Around, you know what that means. Open bars! Unless the wedding you go to is a dry wedding (why?) or a cash bar (cheapskates). I would imagine many of you traveling to a wedding this summer. Navigating and having a good plan of attack on a wedding open bar is crucial these days. You want to do your best maximizing the most out of the open bar, especially if it’s on your friend’s tab (wink). I am going to tell you the best way to go about enjoying a wedding open bar.

We are going to assume that the actual ceremony already happened and you are heading to the reception. In most cases there is a cocktail hour before the actual dinner reception so we will start there.

COCKTAIL HOUR

How you start is probably the most important step. You are probably thinking, what drinks should I start with? Liquor before Guy Sodas? Is Guy Juice (Wine) off limits? Yes, what drink to start with is extremely important, but what bartender you designate as your “Go To” for the night is even more important. This happens during the cocktail hour. Its good to scout out which bartender looks the happiest, easy going and would most likely pour you strong drinks. Through my experience, I usually go with an older lady or older man, a seasoned vet. Think of your school days and the lunch ladies that gave you extra food all because you smiled, were polite and started small talk.

Once you make that decision you want to have some cash on hand and be ready to drop a big tip right off the bat. Usually $20 USD is appropriate, let that bartender know who is boss for the night. You also want to make sure that bartender sees you drop that tip after they hand you that first drink. Not only is it courteous, but it also sets the tone like “Hey I came here to party, so lets party.”

Now lets get a strategy on what drink to start with something that is also a very important step in this process. You don’t come to weddings to drink cheap domestic light beer, you need to make the most of your experience. I suggest starting with a mixed drink, whiskey and ginger ale, gin and tonic, vodka and water. Something along those lines, everyone is different. I am personally a whiskey man, so that is what I like to go with. Another insider tip is to always double fist during the cocktail hour because of long lines at the bar. I have experienced longer waits at the bar, so the old fashioned double fist is the way to go.

Usually the cocktail hour has a spread of finger foods, there is no doubt that you need to indulge in this as well. I have had some of the best appetizers at wedding cocktail hours that I have ever had. You also do not want to go too hard too early, weddings are marathons not sprints. Having a good buzz leading into the reception dinner is what you want. You do not want to be talking to Aunt Donna whacked out of your mind at 5 pm.

RECEPTION

Where you get seated can dictate a lot of things as well during the reception. If you are with a rowdy crowd, things can get out of hand pretty fast. My suggestion is to keep pace throughout the reception, sticking to your original drink that you first started with. I suggest sticking with the double fist as well because you want to have enough ammunition to sit through all of the speeches and introductions. That is why double fisting from the start pays off. You do not want to be sitting in the reception empty handed during the speeches and you certainly don’t want to be that guy that gets up to go to the bar (which they are probably restocking) while everyone is seated.

After all of the speeches and hoopla, you should be in the clear to head back to reload. If you followed my suggestions so far, your “Go To” bartender will start to pour those drinks stronger as the night moves on. Having friends at your table fetch you drinks is also a solid idea, but I suggest if you have the opportunity you want to go yourself. Keeping that connection with your bartender is crucial throughout the night.

When the DJ comes on and its time to start dancing, this is when you switch back to just one drink at a time. You don’t want to be spilling your drink all over the dance floor with your violent hand gestures. In my experience, once the cake rolls out the open bar usually starts to shut down. You want to make sure you capitalize at least once more for good measure.

AFTER PARTY

Congratulations, you have made it this far into the night. If you have been following my suggestions you are probably pretty tuned up at this point. In most cases the after party is in the hotel bar or a bar close by. The open bar of the wedding most likely is done, so that the gravy train is over! My suggestion during the after party is to switch to light beer and water. I would suggest having a few glasses of water for hydration and to prevent any potential hangovers. Just a friendly reminder this wedding season.

When you Guy Around this wedding season please remember to do so being safe. Guying Around and safety goes hand in hand. Have fun this wedding season and don’t do anything that I wouldn’t do.

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