One of the biggest costs for a wedding reception is the bar tab. Alcohol ranks as the second most significant cost for a wedding reception, right after the cost of food. For brides who are looking to save a bit on the cost of the reception, the bar is a prime target for cutting back.
To cut back on the bar bill, consider scheduling your wedding and reception earlier in the day. Serve lighter drinks like wine or just a few cocktails, and be sure to offer plenty of non-alcoholic drinks. Fruit punch, water, lemonade, and iced teas will all help keep your guests hydrated but won’t pump up the bar tab. If an earlier wedding won’t work, consider scheduling your wedding on a Sunday afternoon. The cost of your reception will plummet and guests who need to work in the morning will be more likely to drink with restraint.
If you have an evening wedding planned, close the bar during dinner and instruct the service staff to leave half-consumed drinks on the table. People often get up and walk around, but intend to return to their seats. By picking up only empty glasses, servers can cut down on the number of refills the guests will seek out. It may also give them a better handle on how much a person is drinking. Also tell the servers to re-fill wine glasses only when the guest requests it, instead of refilling when the guest’s glass is below one-half or one-quarter.
If you plan to serve your own wine, buy it by the case to save money. Check with the catering staff about corking fees. If you’re charged for each bottle that you open, a corking fee can eliminate all of your savings. You’d be better off placing unopened bottles at the table along with a corkscrew and letting your guests open their own wine. You can have the service staff replenish wine bottles at each table, if needed, during the evening.
Offer appealing non-alcoholic drinks at the bar. Virgin margaritas, daiquiris, sangrias and other non-alcoholic “mocktails” can be just as appealing as their alcoholic counterparts.