Serving alcohol at a wedding can certainly help get the party going, but can also add lots of extra dollars to your budget. Consider some simple ways to keep the spirits- and your balance sheet- under control.

 Talk to the Caterer/Venue:

Some venues and caterers offer alcohol, some do not. Many that do will charge a corkage fee if you prefer to bring your own instead of choosing from their selection. Sometimes, they can also save you money by charging for only what you drink, thereby preventing you from over-purchasing. It’s important to have a conversation with your catering or venue manager to determine how to get the best price.

The Full Bar wedding:

Obviously the most expensive choice, a full bar wedding includes wine, beer, spirits, and mixers. Since mixed drinks are served, an experienced bartender is also necessary. You can defray some of the cost of a full bar by having a no-host option, or only hosting the bar during the dinner hour. Even with this reduced responsibility, the sheer size of the full bar can be a costly, if fun, choice.

 The Beer/Wine Wedding:

This is a less expensive choice that still allows guests the chance to enjoy a drink or two. In general, you will want to provide at least one red and one white wine, and one to three beer options. Some people also choose to have a limited amount of champagne available for toasting.

 The Non-Alcoholic Wedding:

Soft drinks, iced tea, lemonade, and other non-alcoholic beverages can easily be used to create a hangover-free bar with lots of creative options. Don’t be afraid to get creative with the possibilities of a non-alcoholic bar- consider including unusual drinks, like egg creams, chocolate milk, punch, or even ice cream sodas. The alcohol will never be missed, and the price may be considerably less.

Good champagne generally costs in excess of $20 per bottle- at a large wedding, that can quickly wrack up, even if it’s just available for toasting. If you want some bubbly without the stress, consider mixing your signature cocktail out of an inexpensive ($10 or less) sparkling wine, and a few fruit juices. This is a great way to have your champagne- and save, too!

One fun alternative to a full bar is to offer a signature cocktail. You and your sweetie can spend some time concocting practice versions at home in order to create a drink that matches the style and theme of your wedding. This way, you can provide the fun of a real cocktail hour without spending excess money on tons of different spirits.

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