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Emilyy's avatar

How to save money on alcohol for a wedding with 100 guests?

Asked by Emilyy (2133points) January 31st, 2008

My brother and his fiance have to provide their own alcohol as their reception venue does not. They’re looking for ways to save money without going the totally cheap route (a keg of Pabst and red party cups). They thought of Costco, but does anyone have any other ideas/tricks?

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13 Answers

occ's avatar

If you live near a Trader Joe’s, they have extremely inexpensive wine. We’re talking as cheap as $2 a bottle. You might not want to go the route of $2 wine, but you will find that the next step up, the wine in the $5–10 range, is pretty much the same quality as wine that you would get elsewhere for $15–25 dollars. I have run benefit events for non-profits, using wine from Trader Joe’s, and saved a lot of money.

I’ve also been to a number of weddings lately that serve only wine and beer, and I never heard any guests complaining about the fact that there was no hard liquor—people can get plenty drunk off of wine and beer. I also attended a fun wedding where you had your choice of white or red wine, a number of beer selections, or mojitos or margaritas. This was much cheaper for the hosts, who only had to buy two options for liquor (rum and tequila).

another option is to buy cheap-ish red wine, but to make sangria out of it. With all the yummy fruit thrown in, people don’t taste the specific quality of the wine as much. And sangria is fun and festive, too.

WVPHOTOG's avatar

I’m with OCC. Get some 2-buck chuck at Trader Joes.

gooch's avatar

Cash bar!

gooch's avatar

Give out drink tickets on a per person bases

boffin's avatar

Two Buck Chuck….great choice…BYOB to the reception….Also good….Get four or five cases of “Chuck” And a Keg of ? Hook up with some unknown ‘micro-brew’ and serve it for the exposure and advertising….

Emilyy's avatar

@everyone—Yeah, I definitely suggested the 2 buck chuck, but that’s kind of in the same vein as the kegs of Pabst. They’re kind of looking for a way to stay classy while also saving money. Not that 2-buck chuck isn’t classy…

I like the microbrew idea a lot.

Also, I think they’ve already decided against charging guests for the drinks. They want to be able to provide plenty of booze for their guests, but they just don’t want to go broke doing it.

vanguardian's avatar

I think a byo would be cool if you spin it right

Also another vote for trader joes.

Poser's avatar

Ironic that you’d ask this question. I was just talking about the same thing with my roommate and my girlfriend yesterday. Her brother had an open bar at his reception, but had a $2500. Once they hit that, it converted to a cash bar.

My roommate suggested for my wedding that we buy our liquor at Costco and hire our own bartender. That would be cheaper than depending on the reception’s venue to provide the liquor and the bartender.

I’m cheap, so I went a step further and suggested my girlfriend and I try to make a little money back on our wedding. We buy our own liquor and hire a bartender, but make it a cash bar.

She was not amused.

Angelina's avatar

A cash bar at your wedding is never a good idea. Think of it this way: if you were serving wine with dinner at your home, would you expect your guests to pay up? If money is an issue, you can consider the following:

-Buy the wine in bulk. If you do so at a liquor store, you’ll be able to negotiate a discount.
-Make sure waiters pour the wine at the tables. Get bartenders. Don’t let guests help themselves from a diy bar table. This prevents people from abandoning half-drunk glasses that they’ve misplaced and going back to serve themselves more in a new glass.
-If you want to serve hard alcohol, choose a signature cocktail or two. Then you can buy the hard alcohol at a bulk, discounted price, too.
-I’ve been to weddings that served just wine and beer. It’s fine, no one will complain.
-But it’s fun to be able to get drinks. We had a full bar at our wedding, and a lot of people appreciated that. Not because they were drunkards, but because it’s nice to be able to order your fave drink.
-Actually, we didn’t have a FULL full bar. We chose a few liquors to have available, the usual suspects: vodka, scotch, cognac, etc. So you don’t have to go overboard to be able to offer a nice selection of drinks.
-Champagne. You won’t need to get that much, luckily. People don’t love it, generally, and if the waiters fill the glasses at the beginning of the reception for the first round of toasts, and again at the end for the cake cutting and last bit of toasts, that’s all you’ll need. Two glasses per guest. And by glass, I mean a third of a glass, since it’s overboard to fill it to the top.

Generally, my advice on weddings is, throw a fun party. You’ll enjoy it!

TheGreenBrideGuide's avatar

NO CASH BAR = not okay. You can buy wine in bulk bottles/boxes for less money. Cut down the bar to wine and beer (a la the keg). NO NO NO on the cash bar – have I made that clear?

Emilyy's avatar

@TheGreenBrideGuide: Cash bar was NEVER part of the plan. I know other people have suggested it, but that wasn’t what we were asking. Thanks for reiterating the fact that cash bars suck, though. We looking to save money on the alcohol that WE would spend money on so that the guests would not have to. Guests drink for FREE!

So we’re not taking cash bar suggestions into consideration. Once again, sorry if I wasn’t clear, but the question is about how to cut costs for the bride and groom because they have ALREADY DECIDED they are footing the bill for the booze. Got it, everyone?

I do appreciate all the ideas and suggestions though.

MaryW's avatar

A cash bar and an/or spiked punch. Oh and label the punch if kids are coming.

heathermarciniak's avatar

i am getting married next year and we are getting our own bartender and giving them 150 for 6 hours of serving. we are buying all of our own alcohol, and putting a tip jar on the bar that says TIPS GO TO BRIDE AND GROOM. I have seen many weddings that do this. The bartender doesn’t get mad cuz they are getting a flat rate and its pretty decent if you ask me for six hours. We are not having wine though, most of our friends and family do not drink wine. our hard liquor though we have started buying a little of what we need every month so the cost doesnt hit us all at once since alcohol has no expiration date especially if it is sealed.

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