What Time Should We Close the Bar at Our Wedding Reception?

Updated 08/11/16

Tory Williams Photography

Whether it's an open bar, a specialty cocktail, or a selection of your favorite beers, there's nothing guests look forward to more than hitting the bar at your wedding (aside from seeing you get married, of course!). But eventually, the party has to stop. So when's the best time to close the bar? Our experts weigh in.

While you might think the bar should be open until your party ends, think about last call at your favorite late-night spot. If they close at 2:30, last call is usually at 2:15 at the absolute latest, giving patrons time to finish their drinks before the lights come on. The same should go for the bar at your wedding, too. If the band is ending at 11, close the bars at 10:45. This will signal to guests that the evening is about to end — and push them toward the dance floor, since they can't get a drink! This is a particularly great technique if you MUST be out of your venue by a certain time.

Closing the bar tells guests it's time to go home, meaning you'll have fewer stragglers finishing up their last few sips of champagne when the doors are supposed to be locked. If you think your crowd might be a little slow to move, you could close the bars more than 15 minutes in advance to ensure that every drink is done and everyone is ready to go when the lights come on.

If your venue has a less strict curfew policy, you'll still want to talk to your caterer about how late their staff can serve. If you're contracted until midnight, there's probably not much flexibility in keeping the bartenders around any later.

Having an after-party? Make sure the bartenders know when and where it will be so that, when they do start wiping down counters and putting bottles away, they can let your guest know where to head to keep the festivities going.

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