From choosing a more limited selection of glassware to skipping the pre-poured Champagne on every table, these very minor adjustments can result in major savings.
cocktail and appetizer outdoor bar set up

Budgeting for a bar at a wedding is a costly endeavor, and one that often has couples looking for creative ways to cut back. While you may be happy to provide an evening filled with delicious cocktails and wines for your guests, you want to make smart choices to keep the overall experience nice without breaking the bank. Here are some simple bar swaps you can make that guests won't even notice.

Swap speciality glassware for all-purpose glasses.

Many couples think you need to have different glasses for red wine, white wine, each cocktail, water, soda, and more. That's not entirely true. If you can stick with one basic all-purpose wine glass for red, white, and sparkling, one glass that works well for water and non-alcoholic drinks, and one glass for cocktails, you may be able to cut down some of the bar rentals budget. The same goes for your dinner tables—only one wine glass and a water glass is really necessary.

Swap the Champagne toast for bubbly at the bar.

Champagne toasts tend to be wasteful, expensive, and logistically complicated. Instead, let your guests toast with whatever's in hand. You don't need to rent the additional glassware and bring in excessive of quantities of bubbles for a drink a lot of your guests may not even take part in.

Swap premium bar packages for the second-tier option.

Most caterers and bar providers will offer about three liquor quality levels with tiered pricing to match each option. While the baseline option may not be up to your standards, the second-tier is usually a decent line-up. Guests really won't know the difference between the mid-level and top shelf—they'll just be happy to have a nice mixed drink. If there's a specific liquor you really want to serve your guests, you can always ask for pricing per bottle and add this as an additional specialty item.

Swap liquor at cocktail hour for specialty cocktails.

Beer, wine, and a couple of specialty cocktails should get you through cocktail hour. This allows you to put off serving hard liquor until after dinner service, which is an easy way to save costs and tactfully manage heavy-drinking guests without them even noticing.

Swap menu pairings for an easy-drinking wine.

For weddings, you want to serve a wine your guests can reasonably drink from cocktail hour, through all of dinner, and into the dancing portion of the night. You don't need to have a lot of options, but you want to go with something that's easy to drink and doesn't cost a lot. Staying within the $15-25 range is usually a safe budget, but you can even go to the $12-20 range and still find delicious wines at affordable price points. Unless you're comfortable spending more and possibly having more wasted wine, skip the wine pairings at the dinner table.

Swap a well-accessorized bar for a well-staffed one.

It's easy to get carried away customizing cocktail napkins and swizzle sticks, and decking the bar out in a beautiful display, but it's also an easy place to cut back your budget. The most important thing for guests is that they're able to easily get a drink when they want one. If you keep your focus on staffing and allowing plenty of space for the bar, your guests will be pleased.


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