Red signature wedding cocktail with heart decor and polka dot straw
Photo: Rodeo & Co. 

If you have decided to have an open bar at your wedding, chances are you are trying to decide which liquors to provide for your wedding guests at the bar.  More than likely, your caterer or bartender has a list of liquors to choose from in various categories. The three most common categories are well, call and top shelf (sometimes called "premium").

Well liquors include brands that are on the less expensive end. If you're on a tight budget, you can save money by opting to serve less costly beer and wine, or well liquors if you want a mix of hard alcohol. Call drinks are ordered with a specific brand of liquor (i.e. ordering a "Maker's Manhattan" or a "Belvedere Martini") and depending on the order, they will likely cost more than a well drink. 

Unless you really want a quality bar and it is a cost you are willing to absorb, most top-shelf liquors are completely unnecessary for larger receptions. Your liquor bill is going to skyrocket, even if your guests don't over-imbibe.  Likewise, saving money by only using well is perfectly acceptable, but the quality of your drinks may suffer. The best bet is to have a good mix of all three categories. Use well vodka and rum, because it will be the easiest to mask in mixed drinks. Save top-shelf for whiskey, and use a mid-range tequila.

Want more advice regarding your wedding cocktails? Start with these fresh ideas.