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How to Save Money on Alcohol for Your Wedding Bar

Cutting back on cocktail costs can be a sobering task. Raise a glass to scoring big-day drinks on a budget with these money-saving tips.

Photography by: Thayer Photographs, Inc.

Play Sommelier 

If you work it out with the venue to supply vino yourself, you’ll get better wine for the same price (or less), even with a corkage fee. “Choose lesser-known wines like Orvieto, Soave, or grüner veltliner for whites, and Rioja or barbera for reds,” says NYC wine consultant Lyle Kula. 


Lower the Bar 

We’re not talking about setting up a cash bar—guests shouldn’t pay for anything at a wedding—but rather editing the selection of beverages. One or two kinds of beer, a red and a white wine, and a signature sipper or simply a good vodka, gin, and whiskey is plenty. 

Get Signature Drink Ideas

Hold the Trays 

If you do offer a signature wedding drink, don’t have servers pass it around, says planner Calder Clark, owner of Calder Clark in Charleston, South Carolina. “Most people will take one but not always drink it—and that’s wasted money.” Instead, keep the cocktails at the bar, where guests can request it if they want one.


Do the Math

Considering serving wine and beer instead of an open bar to cut costs? Calculate the difference before you make that decision. “A bottle of wine contains five drinks, whereas a liter of vodka has 25,” says Richard Nix Jr. of Butler’s Pantry in Saint Louis.

Buy Bubbly on a Budget

Though Champagne technically only hails from the Champagne region of France, the sparkling wine you serve at your reception could come from Spain (Cava) or Italy (Prosecco). These worldly competitors pack a smaller price tag.

Get Creative Ideas for Celebrating with Champagne

Skip the Champagne Toast

It turns out, most people don’t touch their glass, literally resulting in money down the drain. Keep the bubbly at the bar for guests who want it.


Go for Quality Stemware

Remember these words: Riedel Bordeaux glasses. “Your caterer can rent them for about $1.50 a stem,” says Rebecca Feeney of Custom Event Group in St. Helena, California. “They make everything taste better, which frees you up to spend less on wine. Plus, they feel fancy.”

Get More Budgeting Tips for Your Big Day