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7 Ways to Let Your Guests “Have Their Cocktails and Drink Them Too” at Your Low-Budget Wedding

It only makes sense that the longer drinks are available, the larger the bar bill will be. Consequently, there are various ways to offer “the good stuff” while also staying within a budget.

One is to limit the amount of time drinks are available.
Seven ways to save money on alcohol at your wedding but guests still get to drink cocktails.

The following time restrictions will all allow your guests to drink yet save you money.

(1) Serve drinks the first hour or two only.
(2) Close the bar during the meal.
(3) Serve a full range of drinks during a designated cocktail time but beer and wine only for the remainder of the event.
(4) Shorten cocktail “hour.”

You can also limit the amount of alcohol used by the way you serve it. Rather than have a bartender make each drink individually, you can…

(5) Control the alcohol content by mixing the drinks in bulk ahead of time and having guests serve themselves from a dispenser at a drink station.

This saves both the cost of a bartender and alcohol-heavy drinks.

(6) Have servers circulate with trays of designated, premixed.

This makes the cocktails not quite as available as self-serve. Be sure to find out if there would be an extra charge for the servers, and take this into account before you decide.

(7) Let your guests bring additional alcohol if they want.

A final way to open your wedding up to every conceivable drink combination is to instruct your guests to supply their own if they prefer something other (or longer) than what you will be serving. As with any brought-in food or drink, check with your venue to make sure your contract does not prohibit this.

Also, you will probably want to include details in the invitations about what and when you will be offering drinks. This will help avoid confusion about this twist on “BYOB.”


Wednesday 14th of May 2014

I am an event coordinator and agree completely with #s 1-4 and #6 (slightly) but am shocked that you would recommend numbers 5 and 7.

First of all, no venue will allow you just to have an open container of alcohol for people to "Self serve". This is an extreme liability for both the venue and the bride and groom. Plus, do the B&G really need to added stress and worry that someone may overindulge and get into an accident? Unless you have someone stationed at the dispenser checking every ID at all times, this just has bad news written all over it.

Secondly, most venues that have a liquor license will not allow guests to BYOB. Unless you're having the event at a friend's house (or a place very relaxed in their concern for guests) this is an absurd suggestion. Those venues that do allow you to bring in your own alcohol (they don't have a bar on site, etc) do so with strict requirements on having a bartender and/or security.

Again, any legit venue's first priority is the safety of their guests. Alcohol is a major liability that is taken very seriously by reputable venues and adherence to policies and procedures are extremely important, as they could lose their liquor license (and therefore a lot of revenue).

Bobette Kyle

Wednesday 14th of May 2014

Thank you for sharing your thoughtful perspective, KME. You are (of course) correct when it comes to venues that make a business of providing bar beverages and/or other event services and the factors you mentioned should absolutely be considered. While your warning about letting people bring their own in any circumstance is well-taken, many weddings are held at less-than-traditional venues and are informal. And BYOB does not necessarily mean folks are looking to get irresponsibly drunk. In some instances, it can be an option.