6 Ways to Save Money on Drinks at Your Wedding

A bride and groom holding cocktails at their wedding reception.

You’re in the midst of wedding planning and you’re realizing that wedding receptions can be pretty expensive, especially when it comes to the alcohol portion of the festivities. While most guests certainly enjoy an open bar, hosting one is often a huge expense and you’ve got a budget to stick to. On the other hand, you also want to ensure your guests enjoy themselves and that those who wish to drink are properly lubricated. So, what to do? Don’t despair—with these six easy ways to save money on beverages at your wedding, you’ll be able to let the drinks flow while still keeping money in your pocket.

1. Skip the Champagne Toast

It might be tradition, but a champagne toast, in which every guest has a flute of champagne, can add up quickly. Not to mention that not everyone likes champagne, so there’s usually a ton of half-empty glasses leftover, which is just a waste of money (and good booze). Instead, let your guests toast you with the beverage of their choice. If you must carry on with tradition, then consider asking the venue and/or caterers to fill the glasses only half-way. No one will notice anyway, and it’ll save you money!

2. Provide Your Own Alcohol

Some wedding guests grabbing bottles of beer from a cooler at an outdoor wedding.

Buying your own beverages is a good way to control your spending and your quality. However, every venue and/or caterer has their own restrictions or stipulations on this practice. Some might allow you to provide the alcohol yourself while others might not. If providing your own drinks is something you’d like to consider, that might be a factor when it comes to selecting your venue and/or caterer. It’s a good idea to check in with your venue and see what type of bar options or packages they might offer.

3. Give a Drink Maximum to Your Guests

Rather than a free-for-all at the bar, you might consider providing drink vouchers to your guests with a maximum of two or three drinks at the bar. Of course, for those who don’t want to use any or all of their allotted drinks, they might give them to someone who will, which might be something you don’t mind—or you (or the venue) might want to enforce stricter rules. Regardless, setting a drink maximum will lower the costs of booze and will still provide people with some free drinks.

4. Offer a Signature Cocktail or Two

A tray at a wedding reception with an orange signature cocktail on it.

Offering a signature cocktail or two not only brings a unique and personal twist to your reception menu, but it also lowers bar costs. In lieu of having a totally open bar, you only serve a couple of pre-determined drinks, which is easy peasy. Another alternative is offering a small selection of either red or white wines and a small selection of beer. People still get their booze, and you still get to save some money.

5. Skip the Wine on the Table (Or Just Provide Only That)

Either skip the bottle of red and white wine on the table, or let that be the only alcohol that’s served to your guests. Guests will tend to be more conservative with their consumption if they know this is the only booze being served during the night. And depending on your guest list, two bottles at a table can go a long way. Again, you’re still providing your guests with an alcoholic option while also managing your budget.

6. Go Easy on the Pouring

A selection of wine glasses at a wedding reception with rose and lavender springs in them.

You might want to discuss with the venue beforehand that you want only light pours. (Meaning: no doubles with liquor or heavy wine pours.) You could suggest filling glasses only half-way and going light with liquor in cocktails (think more soda than vodka). Most guests probably won’t notice, anyway. You get to have a “full bar,” but on a budget. This way, it’s a win-win for everyone.

You don’t need to pour money down the drain when it comes to serving alcohol at your wedding. By keeping these easy tricks in mind, you’ll serve up a fantastic evening that everyone will love—including your wallet.

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