How to Save Money on Alcohol

Follow these steps to save on your wedding budget

By Jonathan Croswell

Bottles of Wine
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Few things make as big an impact on your wedding reception as the alcohol available to guests, but few things can drive up wedding costs quicker. Many couples struggle with how much alcohol to provide, what kind and how to pay for it. If you are planning a wedding on a budget, alcohol spending can be an area of big spending or big savings.

  • What You Need to Know
  • Review your budget and determine how much you want to spend on alcohol.
  • If you're working with a wedding planner, ask them about tips for saving money on alcohol.
Lowering weddding alcohol expenses

Step 1:

Choose a cash bar over an open bar. Some guests may not like it, but it is much cheaper than an open bar. It also allows you to offer a wide range of alcoholic beverages and you don't have to worry about figuring out what all your guests drink. Another reason to consider a cash bar is that it may cut down on the drinking at your wedding, if that is a concern for you.

Step 2:

Ask about open bar costs when choosing a reception hall. Some halls may be willing to cut a deal on open bar service to get your business or may have ideas about to cut down on the costs.

Step 3:

Consider offering a signature drink, such as a flavored margarita or other blended drink. You can make these on your own in bulk for much less than it would cost to order them from a caterer or bartender.

Step 4:

Stock beer and wine only. Cutting out hard liquor will greatly reduce the inventory you need to have on hand, lowering costs without disappointing your guests.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • If you have any friends with bartending experience, ask if they would work your wedding. You can guarantee them a flat rate if the tips do not add up.
  • Ask your friends and family if they have alcohol to donate or if they know of anywhere where you could purchase some at a discount.
  • There is of course the option of not serving alcohol at all or only serving wine and beer with the meal. Or you can stock a partial bar to give your guests a few mixed drink options but not try to have every drink possible.

About the Author

Jonathan Croswell is a freelance writer who has worked on regional wedding publications.

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Planning Reminder:

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Decide on beverages

Open bars are a standard (and popular) approach to beverage service, but you have other options as well. A signature drink can color-coordinate with the decor and keep a lid on expenses. A sparkling wine is also a great way to get everyone in the festive spirit without worrying about mixers and more money.

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Wedding Glossary


A beverage service system where the host pays for all drinks ordered by the guests. Also known as an open bar.

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