Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Save Serious Money - The Bar

Is your wedding budget starting to look a bit tight? A good place to cut costs is your bar. If you do it right, you can save a lot of money without feeling the pinch.

Above all, remember that while some consider a cash bar poor etiquette, it is not at all rude to have a completely dry wedding, and is not uncommon here in North Carolina. If you can't afford alcohol or don't wish to have it at your wedding for whatever reason, don't allow yourself to be steamrolled by friends or relatives. If they wish to drink, they can arrange (and pay for) an after-party.
  • Sometimes you need to spend money to save money. If your reception venue doesn't provide one or if you are having an outdoor wedding, hire a licensed bartender. A licensed bartender will pay for himself by preventing problem guests from over-indulging, which both saves money and reduces the likelihood of "incidents". He or she may even keep you out of legal trouble. If you provide free-flowing alcohol, you can be held liable if one of your guests drives drunk and injures / kills somebody.

  • Keep the bar open for only a couple of hours instead of all night.

  • Limit your selection to one or two kinds of beer, one or two wines, and one or two "signature mixed drinks," or skip hard liquor entirely for extra savings. What you don't want is a dozen half-empty bottles left over at the end of the night that you have to pay for.

  • If you are providing the alcohol yourself, shop around well before the big day to find the best deals. If you are serving beer, buy cases from a bulk grocery like Sam's Club or Costco, or a bulk ABC store like Total Wine, instead of buying a keg. Kegs are messy, the extra accessories can add up, and the cost works out to be about the same per-drink for bulk cases versus a keg. Be sure everything is at the reception site several hours early so it can be properly chilled.

  • Your venue will limit what you can do. Hotels and country clubs usually have liquor licenses, meaning you have the option of a cash or a free bar. Other venues, like churches, are sometimes completely alcohol-free or only allow certain types of alcohol (no mixed drinks, for example). Almost every venue will charge extra fees for bringing in alcohol.