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Do It Yourself Wedding Drinks

Providing your own wedding drinks and alcohol at your reception is a surefire way to save a bundle of money. Even if you plan to provide a full bar!

The first thing you must do is to determine that your reception location allows you to provide your own outside alcohol. Many venues will only allow you to offer alcohol off from their list and it is almost always at a very significant mark-up. Triple prices (or more) is not uncommon.

I'm not one to say "the wedding industry is out to get you" (wait, okay, maybe I've implied that a few times) but alcohol is one area where venues and caterers rely on to make money by overcharging you. Shop around and check your prices. A wedding reception will go through a LOT of alcohol and this cost will add up fast.

Now I have been to a wedding or two where guests had to pay for their own alcohol. Let me state the obvious here. Guests hate this. Don't do this. If you absolutely have to and your budget is really this tight, make your reception BYOB (bring your own bottle) so guests can bring their own alcohol in.

wedding drinks

Another option is to at least offer signature wedding drinks that you will cover along with beer and wine.

You could also only serve wine and beer and skip hard liquor completely. Here are resources for finding cheap champagne and affordable wine.

The most common question I receive is how much alcohol do I need and this depends on a number of factors. Obviously the size, time of day and day of week and also how many different types of alcohol you are serving. An early afternoon wedding on a Sunday will not go through nearly as much as a Saturday evening wedding. If you are only serving beer and wine expect to buy much more than if you are serving a full bar.

Here are the general amount guidelines for wine. One bottle serves 5 glasses and plan on each person having two glasses. Will each person have two glasses? No. Some will have none but some will have five. This means for a guest list of 100 people, you'll want to provide 40 bottles of wine.

If you are serving a signature cocktail, plan on each guest having two. Again, not every guest will have two, but some will have several. Always better to have more. Especially since you are providing it yourselves, you get to take it home afterwards! Some liquor stores will accept returns on unopened alchohol by the way, but check with them first.

Have fun & be responsible! If there is lots of partying going on at your reception, a nice touch is to have cab company numbers available for guests posted by the bar.

Go back to the Do It Yourself Wedding Food & Drink section.

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