Tip No. 3 – Bar on a Budget

Top 10 Tips to Getting the Most Bang for your Wedding Budget Revealed!

This is such a tricky issue for so many couples! Open bar, consumption bar, cash bar…what to do?! The bar is often a large expense to undertake and alternatives are hard to come by. Here are a few ways you can still have alcohol at your wedding without the ick factor of a cash bar, while making sure your wallet isn’t suffering for years to come!

1. Cocktail Hour

If you’re not keen on having just wine and beer for your entire evening, why not try it for your cocktail hour? This keeps all expensive hard liquors out of the picture completely yet still allows it to feel like an open bar.

2. Timing is Everything

The time of day that you host your ceremony and reception will have a great affect on the amount of alcohol consumed.

3. Serve a Signature Drink

Including one delicious signature drink related to your wedding in terms of colour or theme is a great way to add personal flair – and if you make sure it’s mostly fruit juice and minimal alcohol, you can save a pretty penny.

signature drink

{Image via Style Me Pretty}

4. Close the Bar (for a little while)

Serve only wine at dinner while closing the main bar. This has become pretty mainstream to weddings – so don’t feel bad about doing this one AT ALL! Most couples nowadays do it, so you don’t have to feel like you’re being cheap!

5. Always have a ‘Pourer’

Make sure that your wait staff pours the wine, rather than leaving bottles on the tables during dinner. People will consume at least 50% more if they are able to pour it quickly themselves the moment they run out.

wine pouring

6. Close the Bar a bit Early

You don’t want to close your bar too early, or your guests will leave…taking the party with them. But it’s actually smart to close the bar just a half hour before the reception ends. Not only will it save you the cost of the consumed alcohol during that time, but it’s actually in the best interest of your guests’ safety to give them a bit of time to sober up before leaving your event.

7. Buy if you can

If you have a venue that will allow you to purchase your own SOP (special occasions permit) and bring in your own alcohol DO IT! It seems like more work, and that it will be more of a headache than it’s worth. But it’s really not. It will save you a ton of money (the markup on alcohol is insane), it will allow you to bring in specific vintages you would not have been able to afford, and you can choose your beer and alcohol based on what you know your guests will like – not what the venue has to offer. Give your hubby the task and have him do the calculations and sort out the logistics of purchasing the alcohol. You save $$ and he feels totally involved! Win-win!

passed sparkling wine

{Image via Style Me Pretty}

8. Limit your Selection

If you limit your beer and wine selection to one regular, one light and one red, one white, respectively – you will save on all of the crazy import costs of fancier options. (People will go for fancier options if they’re made available) And then have a limited selection of liquors available that you would specify to your venue/caterer beforehand – the worst thing is having bottles of premium alcohol that have barely been opened, and you end up paying an arm and a leg for the entire bottle. Sheesh!

9. His and Hers

In order to limit a lot of the wasted alcohol during cocktail hour, just serve two (yes that’s right…just two) beverages. Do a cute ‘his and hers’ bar and offer the bride’s fave drink and the groom’s fave drink. You will satisfy two taste spectrum’s and don’t worry about making everyone 100% happy…people will drink what you give them.

his and hers cocktails

{Image via Green Wedding Shoes}

10. The Classiest of Classy

I came across this article on SheKnows.com and instantly fell in love with the idea! Being a HUGE wino…here’s my idea of the perfect, yet budget conscious (yet it doesn’t seem budget conscious), wedding reception!

Cocktail hour = wine and cheese hour

What to serve – a toasting wine (champagne or sparkling) alongside any and all cheeses that tickle your fancy!

{Image via Style Me Pretty}

Meal = showing off your fabulous taste in wines!

What to serve – accompany your meal with perfectly paired wines for each course. This means that each person will get a sample of 3 or 4 different wines throughout the course of the meal – but never in a full sized amount that they would receive in a regular pour. Plus as they’re switching from course to course and wine to wine they’ll want to really taste the wine, so they won’t be drinking it as quickly! You know when you get used to a wine and the next glass goes down quicker than the previous…it’s bound to happen!

Dessert = Mmmmm!

What to serve – depending on what you’re serving as your dessert, you will choose a different wine to pair it with. Example – a rich chocolate dessert would pair well with a heavy and full merlot or a shiraz. Alternatively – if you’re not serving an overly sweet dessert – a cheesecake, or a heavy (non-sweet) pastery…perhaps a bit of ice wine might be a lovely treat!

wine tasting cheers

{Image via Style Me Pretty}

Make sure you check out the full SheKnows article here for the tips on perfectly pairing your wine and food so that your ‘less expensive’ reception alcohol seems oh so refined!

Happy Planning!

Are you going to implement any creative money saving bar ideas?!

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© Kate Vanderlugt 2012 The Little White Dress www.thelittlewhitedress.ca

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