These days, open bar isn’t just about the libations. Brides and grooms are having more fun than ever with free-standing stations, or “bars,” to showcase and share their unique fixations and favorite treats. From candy to specialty seafood, couples want to treat their guests to a memorable experience for the palate that extends beyond the planned dinner.
Here’s a look at some of the more popular and original “open bar” concepts:
Seafood bars aren’t exactly new, but cost can be a factor. So instead of offering the entire bounty of the sea, seafood bars may feature one or two specialty items, accompanied by creative sauces and dips. Another strategy to manage costs is to limit the time the bar is open, such as during the cocktail hour only. A few seafood bar concepts are:
- A shellfish bar excites many when well stocked with a bountiful supply of shrimp, mussels and steamers. Add king crab legs or lobster tail and you’ll be adding to the budget as well. Visual arrangement is important to keep the bar sorted and appealing.
- A specialty seafood bar includes very specific items like oysters, smoked salmon, or crab cakes. Some additional preparation of sauces might also be required, so while the straight-up seafood costs might not be as high, your caterer’s prep time might even things out.
The Sushi Bar
Sushi bars are a favorite for those who indulge and can range from the more broadly appealing California rolls (salmon, cucumber, cream cheese) to adventurous presentations of eel and tuna. Sushi is in a category by itself because of this diversity and for its artistry in presentation. It’s important to choose a quality sushi chef who knows how to keep it fresh for some duration. On-the-spot preparation provides some entertainment value and can be an event.
The Candy Bar
A rainbow of candy jars at a wedding in Seattle introduced me to the pleasures of this idea. The trend has continued to gain momentum, being featured in wedding magazines and recently on WeddingWire, a well-regarded inspirational wedding blog. Their broad appeal to the sweet-tooth in all of us, as well as the creative and fun use of color to coordinate with the wedding day style keep candy bars at the forefront of this category.
The Ice Cream Sundae Bar
Ice cream is the ultimate crowd pleaser, and while it works at any time of year, it is especially appropriate for summertime. Not intended to take the place of cake, staple flavors like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry and classic sauces, sprinkles, nuts and cherries are a good start. Brides and grooms with reputations for more off-beat flavors, say pistachio or coconut, enjoy putting their mark on the flavors and introduce guests to something they may not have tried otherwise.
Go for appeal and creative presentation.
Open bars can really be about anything that adds to your wedding’s uniqueness. If you have a thing for donuts, why not? If you want to appeal to everyone, try a bread an cheese bar. From showy to whimsical, the open bar concept gets guests involved sampling and tasting. With creative presentation and quality execution, open bars can also be a great topic of conversation.
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