6 Smart Ways to Manage Bar Costs at the Wedding Reception

Here are six inventive methods to control reception bar expenses:

1. A small bar

One of the most contentious wedding issues is whether or not to provide an open bar. Who is not fond of an open bar? However, take this into consideration: The cost of liquor for an open bar, which includes wine, beer, and mixed drinks, can reach up to $90 per person for a four-hour reception, depending on many criteria like the age of the attendees.

Plus, having booze on tap all the time can be problematic. If you read about weddings that went poorly, it’s generally because too much booze was served.

Why not reduce the bar’s options to maintain affordability? Get rid of the hard liquor and serve a variety of wines and beers. By doing this, you won’t have to provide a large selection of booze, which would leave you with nearly empty bottles at the end of the evening.

Combine two or three types of beers, two white and two red wines, and a combination of light and dark beer to create a variety. A nice option is to give tastings of local craft beers and wines.

2. A trademark mixed drink

Make a trademark drink (don’t forget to give it a catchy name) to serve alongside the wine and beer instead of breaking the bank on a large assortment of hard liquor. Another amazing option to add a personal touch to your wedding is with signature beverages.

Make “Hers” and “His” cocktails. Is she more of a Cosmopolitan and is he more of a Manhattan? Attend to those.

Alternately, align your wedding’s color palette to the trademark drink. Make some bourbon peach sweet tea if peaches are your hue. Using a color scheme of roses? Pour whiskey-infused blackberry lemonade.

Choose beverages that have components that are already part of your basic bar package, such as vodka and orange juice, to keep the prices down, and then give them a personal touch.

Another inexpensive choice is a batch drink, such as punch.

3. Set a time limit for bar hours

Have fun with your bar’s hours; it’s not necessary to close it entirely. An empty bar is a subliminal way of telling people the party is over. After the final song is played and the lights are turned up, those who are eager to continue drinking will look for another location.

However, there are some creative methods to save costs, including serving beer and wine for dinner instead of a full bar at cocktail hour. You could even move to a cash bar after supper. After the open bar shuts, maybe give away one brand of beer for free. While some guests won’t mind paying for their own drinks later in the evening, those who are tight for cash will gladly sip the complimentary beer.

Put up a funny sign saying, “Drink up! “We will be switching to a cash bar at 9 p.m.” provides ample notice to guests.

One piece of advice: Don’t make a “cash bar” a cash-only establishment—who carries cash these days? Verify if credit cards are accepted.

4. Pack your own alcohol

The legalities surrounding bringing your own alcohol vary from state to state, therefore there are additional challenges involved. On the positive side, though, you may select the bottles you want and supplying your own alcohol is far less expensive than getting it from your venue or wedding caterer.

First, locate a location that allows you to bring your own booze. Next, compare and shop. Get quotations from multiple beverage providers that provide a range of alcoholic beverages. Choose a beverage supplier who will pay you back for any returned unopened bottles.

Bringing your own alcohol has the benefit of allowing you to take home any leftovers at the end of the evening. Perhaps you should get married with a fully stocked bar.

Hire a bartender.

5. Neglect the champagne toast

For the toasts, it is customary to give each person in the room a glass of champagne. However, that can soon mount up—up to several hundred dollars—especially if you choose the more expensive types of champagne.

There is no requirement that guests toast the bride and groom with champagne; they can use whatever glass in their hands. Alternatively pass on the posh French bubbly and go for a less expensive substitute like sparkling wine. Excellent bubbly substitutes are Cava from Spain and Prosecco from Italy.

6. Organize a weekday or daytime wedding.

On the weekends and at night, we all have a tendency to drink much more. Therefore, think about having your wedding during the day to save money on more than just your alcohol costs. Since they can accommodate two weddings during the day and another in the evening, many wedding venues provide discounts for daytime nuptials.

Sunday mornings are getting more and more popular because you can serve a fantastic brunch or lunch buffet and cut down on both the bar tab and your food expenses.

Provide a list of local pubs or dance halls where guests can continue the celebrations if they are determined to party late into the evening.

Many couples choose for a weeknight wedding, which also saves money on almost every aspect of the event—not just the bar tab. If they have to go to work early the next day, most guests will not belly up to the bar all night. Weeknight weddings typically end earlier than weekend weddings, but guests can still enjoy a nice cocktail hour and drinks with dinner.

A few closing remarks

Even though everyone enjoys an open bar, these days it’s not expected or necessary for weddings. Why enter into a marriage burdened by debt? Even the classic sit-down dinner is becoming less common among brides and grooms as they choose more inventive alternatives like finger food picnics or cocktail receptions with punch and hors d’oeuvres.
There are lots of inventive methods to lower bar expenses without sacrificing enjoyment. Another approach to make your day special is to include unusual aspects like wine and beer tastings and unique beverages.