Save On Your Wedding BarTuesday, July 20, 2021
You've asked and we've answered! Welcome to your weekly column 'Planning Your Happily Ever After' with wedding consultant Shikima Hinds.
It's no secret that having drinks flowing freely throughout your wedding can end up an expensive element of the overall budget. Anyone planning to serve alcohol at their wedding will likely agree that an open bar is an ideal scenario, but not all couples can dedicate a significant percentage of their reception budget to a night of unlimited drinks.
That's why I've come up with a few alternatives to a full open bar if budget is a concern.
Serve signature drinks: If offering a full selection of alcoholic beverages during the entire wedding is too costly, create a signature drink or two that guests can enjoy. This trend is an option for cocktail hour, not only because it's cost-effective but also because it's cute. How about allowing your guests to choose from the bride's and groom's favourite drinks?
This lets you have full control of what alcohol people are drinking, which will help keep your bar cost down, while still giving guests drink options and further personalising your event. You can ask your bartenders to create a cocktail based on where you met or something based on your wedding colours.
Save the good stuff for the toast: You don't have to pour Champagne through the entire wedding. There are ways to save on this big “sparkling” cost. If you feel you need to have bubbly during cocktail hour, offer mini-sized bottles for guests to drink directly from with cute straws — the additional cost of Champagne glasses can really add up.
Not everyone drinks Champagne; I see so much go to waste. A Champagne toast may be expected based on tradition; however, most wedding guests simply toast with whatever drink they already have in their hand. Instead of pre-pouring glasses at the tables, tray-pass Champagne for the toasts at the appropriate time. This allows guests to have the drink of their choice for the toast.
Buy your own alcohol: Choose a wedding venue that will allow you to provide your own alcohol. Be wary of those that may still charge a corkage fee. You'll end up saving money if you buy your alcohol from a local liquor wholesaler. This will eliminate markups from the bartending company. Some suppliers offer liquor on consignment, which allows you to return unopened bottles to them after the wedding.
Have a limited bar: You could perhaps offer limited beverages to include your signature cocktails, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages only. Skipping multiple hard alcohol options is a great way to minimize the bar cost.
Offer a variety of non-alcoholic beverages and have a hydration station: Beyond the pretty aesthetics, this is a great way to help your guests stay hydrated during the ceremony, reception, and after-party.
Allow your guests to discover non-alcoholic drink stations that could be one of or a combination of the following: flavoured water, fresh coconuts, a juice bar, lemonades, and mocktails. This is a fantastic way to beat the heat and tempt them away from the pricey alcohol.
Reduce your drink size: Choose to go with smaller glasses for wine and cocktails. I promise you, alcohol will last longer.
Be thoughtful when choosing your reception style: If your wedding gives off a party vibe, then your guests will drink like they are at a party! If you choose a less party-like theme, guests are likely to drink less.
Reduce the number of bartenders: When you book a bar service company, you'll quickly realise that it's not just the alcohol itself that contributes toward your bill. Remember, you're also paying for the bartenders. Be sure to consider how many bartenders you have at your reception and offer self-help sections like the hydration station and mini bottles on ice displays for guests to grab and go.
When booking your venue or bar service, ask a few questions! Never assume you have to stick with the standard. Ask your venue if they're charging you a flat rate for bartending and alcohol or if they're charging you by the drink, by the person and/or by the hour.
Don't underestimate how much your friends and family drink. Bottoms up!
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