You want a fun wedding and you know a good bar can help make that happen. But how do you balance the need to cut alcohol costs with having a fun time?
Hosting an open bar at your wedding can make your guests happy but it can also be a huge expense that could break your wedding budget. A full stocked complimentary bar can cost upwards of $8,000 for a 200 person wedding.
Let’s look at some ways to cut back on alcohol spending while still hosting a good party.
Ways To Save On Wedding Alcohol Costs
While an open bar sounds nice, serving alcohol is an area where you can cut costs without losing impact.
For brides on a budget there are lots of ways to cut alcohol costs without getting rid of the booze and fun it brings. Here we list our favorite ways to cut alcohol costs:
Offer Signature Cocktails
Photo: Stephanie Rhea Photography
Signature cocktails are a great way to personalize your drink selections while managing the overall costs of your bar tab.
You can offer one or two signature wedding cocktails instead of a full bar menu. This cuts down on what you’ll need to buy for the bar and and guests will love the personal aspect.
You’ll get to add another custom element that personalizes your wedding while still giving guests the drinks they desire. Plus you get to think up fun names for your signature wedding drinks!
Buy Your Booze In Bulk
If you’re able to buy the alcohol for your wedding, then you should look into purchasing in bulk.
Buying in bulk might save you a bundle if you plan on having a large open bar. You can call around to local liquor stores to see who offers discounts on bulk purchases.
Several local liquor stores offer discounts for buying cases and some let you return unused bottles in good condition.
Serve Beer & Wine
Photo: Wed Memphis
Many brides decide to serve only beer and wine at their weddings to save money. You can create a variety in the selection by choosing different brands and labels like serving both dark and light beers and red and white wines.
This will save you a ton of cash by not serving liquor but you’ll still be able to satisfy all guests. Memphis has a lot of great local breweries to choose from so let your guests try all the new local options available!
Opt for an Early Wedding
Having a morning or midday wedding ceremony and reception will easily cut down on your wedding alcohol costs. You can serve a fruity cocktail or other light drink option.
Some people will opt not to drink while others won’t go overboard because of the time of day. It’s not for everyone but changing the time of your wedding can definitely save you money on alcohol.
Related: Morning Brunch Wedding Inspiration
Skip the Champagne Toast
While champagne toasts are customary and traditional, many guests don’t drink champagne.
You can skip the champagne specific toast and simply let guests use whatever drink they currently have in hand for toasts.
Not having to buy champagne in addition to other drinks for your wedding will cut back on the costs overall.
Place Wine Bottles On The Tables
Photo: Kelly Ginn Photography
Instead of having a full bar you can add alcohol and wedding decor at the same time by placing wine bottles on the tables at the reception.
You can add a wine bottle or two on each table for guests to split during the reception. Guests tend to be more conservative with their drinking when they are sharing a bottle with the whole table. It’s also a great way to get people talking since it’s guaranteed to strike up a conversation.
Create a plan with your caterer to add new bottles to the table when they run low so guests feel taken care of instead of short changed on alcohol.
Related: Questions To Ask Wedding Caterers
Skip the Top Shelf Liquors
If you’re really set on having a full open bar, the next couple tips will help you save money on that dream.
You can eliminate the most expensive top-shelf liquors from your bar selection list without most guests even noticing. Since there will be plenty of other options your guests will still get to enjoy their drinks and you’ll save some cash.
And after a couple drinks who really notices that those free low to mid-range alcohol drinks aren’t top shelf?
Limit Liquor To The Cocktail Hour
Photo: Weddings From The Heart
If you are set on serving liquor at your wedding, try limiting it’s availability to just the cocktail hour.
Providing liquor drinks during this time and then later switching to beer and wine for the reception will help you limit the liquor costs. This still gives guests a chance to get the drinks they want during your cocktail hour.
You can serve other wine or beer drinks later in the night.
Close The Bar Early
Similarly, decrease the amount you have to spend on an open bar by shortening the bar hours.
You can save a lot of money by closing the bar a few hours before the reception ends. Giving the bar specific hours instead of letting it run all night long will save you hundreds of dollars.
This will also give guests time to sober up at the end of the night before leaving because everyone should drink responsibly.
Consult A Wedding Expert
You know how much your friends and family like to drink but planning for how much they will drink at a wedding can be difficult.
They have experience planning the right number of drinks for your guests and can help you make decisions in this area.
Related: How To Choose A Wedding Planner
There are lots of ways to save money by cutting alcohol costs at your wedding, from cutting it out entirely to serving a speciality drink or two.
You’ll have to decide what works best for you as a couple while you are planning your wedding.
Good luck cutting the wedding alcohol costs and saving money!