Emily
Dedicated August 2022

Wine and beer only?

Emily, on June 8, 2021 at 10:27 AM Posted in Wedding Reception 2 85
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My fiancé and I have a low budget for the bar, but still want to provide everyone with something to drink (maybe 1 drink per person). We’re thinking of just doing wine and beer, or maybe only offering 2 custom cocktails that we choose (maybe a Mai Tai and something else). Thoughts?

85 Comments

Latest activity by Barbara, yesterday at 10:55 PM
  • Michelle
    Rockstar April 2021
    Michelle ·
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    We went through our guest list to figure out who drinks what. That helped us narrow it down for our drink choices & what to buy.
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  • Jessi
    Dedicated October 2022
    Jessi ·
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    I agree that it depends on your guest list. Pre-picked cocktails are hard because there's a chance that people won't like them. Also, how do you plan on monitoring just one drink per guest?

    We are going with beer, wine and liquor mostly because neither of us drink beer or wine so if we want to have something to drink at our own wedding there needs to be liquor lol. We're anticipating the beer and liquor to be most popular with our crowd, but our caterer didn't offer a package without wine so we just went with everything.

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  • Emily
    Dedicated August 2022
    Emily ·
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    That’s a good idea! We wouldn’t necessarily monitor one drink per guest. We would just pay to have enough drinks to provide that many (so about 150 drinks) and then the bartender would start charging cash after that. We just don’t have the budget to provide alcohol all night long. We also could provide tickets to people so they can use one to get a free drink and once that’s gone they have to pay.
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  • Amanduh
    Devoted January 2019
    Amanduh ·
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    Depends on the guest list for sure, but wine and beer should be good enough.

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  • Jessi
    Dedicated October 2022
    Jessi ·
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    Tickets might be a better way to go since I would hate to have one person have like 3 beers before someone else could get one drink lol. Bar expenses are crazy! I recently freaked out to my fiancé because we have some drinkers in our family and are probably looking at $1,500 for alcohol alone (our venue includes bartenders in the price so that's literally just for the booze, mixers and extras for setup stuff).

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  • Emily
    Dedicated August 2022
    Emily ·
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    Our venue does the same! We’re getting married at a restaurant so all service was included in the price and alcohol is basically the cost that you’d pay at a mid-priced restaurant. I think we’re going to stick to $750-1,000 for our alcohol budget. That feels comfortable but not blowing the bank. Your family shouldn’t mind if you can’t provide a lot of alcohol since they’re supposed to be there for you. 💛
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  • Piper
    Savvy April 2022
    Piper ·
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    As long as you're not doing a cash bar, your guests will love what your bar will offer them, beer and wine only is definitely fine!

    My fiancé and I are going with beer & wine , no liquors, no cocktails,no signatures even tough we can EASILY afford a full premium bar with all extra unnecessary drinks! When it's free it's always tasty.

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  • B
    Devoted August 2022
    Bride2Be ·
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    If you’re trying to limit the cost, just do wine and beer and buy wholesale from specs or total wine. It’s really not as expensive as you think and you shouldn’t limit to just one drink per person. They will be there for like 4-5 hours and I’d be annoyed if I could only get one drink. You can even return any unopened wine/beer depending where you get it from!
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  • Courtney
    Expert September 2022
    Courtney ·
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    It's really frustrating for guests to go from not having to pay to suddenly having to pay.

    Drink tickets can also be trouble, because I've seen guests sneak them from others before, so it can be a tricky time.

    Just offer beer and wine, and try to find somewhere in your budget to cover for the whole night. If you really can't be very clear with your guests that they'll need to bring cash with them for the bar.

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  • Kari
    Master June 2021
    Kari ·
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    I think if you want to do only one drink per guest and really limit the amount you spend on alcohol, you should consider serving wine with dinner and then having any other alcohol be a cash bar. I hate cash bars, but I think this route is classier than having drink tokens or something of that nature.

    I do agree with others that if you can find a way to do just supply beer/wine for the night that would be ideal. Skipping cocktails may mean that just a server or bar back can pour and serve drinks (as opposed to a bartender, who would be needed to do mixed drinks and garnishes) which can save you money. Also having cans can save you some trouble over kegs (which require troubleshooting if there is an issue with the tap at all), and you can buy a more precise amount with cans, which can actually save money. Depending on the rules of your venue and state, you might even be able to do self serve if you supply cans and bottles of wine.

    When I drink, its usually a mixed drink but I would have no issue with having free wine available at a wedding and would probably prefer free wine to having to pay for my own cocktails.

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  • themost
    Dedicated October 2021
    themost ·
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    Personally, I wouldn't go return drink tickets. The idea makes me feel like I'm at some sort of fundraiser that includes x number of drink tickets for each ticket purchased or whatever. And going to a cash bar after you've already gotten your first "free" drink is awkward as a guest too.


    I'd try to either find the budget to offer beer and wine or just do a dry wedding with maybe a champagne toast. Charging invited guests to an event where they have to pay for alcoholic beverages is just a tough call.
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  • Melle
    Legend June 2019
    Melle ·
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    Sounds good to me! i went to a wedding that was wine and beer only and that was fine because it was still hosted and had enough variety

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  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle ·
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    Only you know your guests and what they like and don’t. Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know. What works for one crowd will not appeal to someone else and vice versa.


    Many people do not drink beer or wine but they will drink liquor or non alcoholic beverages. Unless you know with 1000% certainty that all of your guests will partake of beer/wine, then serve that. Whatever option you go with needs to be fully hosted so guests do not open their wallets or skip alcohol entirely if you are not able to willing to cut out other unnecessary items to make room in the budget.


    I will graciously accept whatever hospitality the couple offers, if that is appetizers only or full meal, etc, but if a couple serves only beer/wine, I would hope they have an awesome nonalcoholic selection as an alternative so I’m not drinking just water the entire night,

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  • Meghan
    Master October 2019
    Meghan ·
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    I would do a wine and beer bar for the entire evening and not limit your guests to only 1 drink. If your budget only allows 1 drink per person, I would not even bother with serving alcohol.

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  • Florida Marlins
    Expert October 2017
    Florida Marlins ·
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    This is always a tough on these boards. I have no issues with a cash bar and frankly I would rather have that than open bar for a certain time then turn to cash. It can be very confusing. Please no drink tickets. It is not a carnival, lol. (My first FIL suggested that and my mom was so horrified she sprang for open bar, lol.)

    Is it possible to host beer and wine and charge for mixed drinks? Or host beer and wine plus a "signature drink" and charge for spirits?

    I am never offended by only hosted beer and wine but then again I am not much of a drinker and don't go to a wedding to get hammered, lol. I did get a little vexxed when I was charged for a Diet Coke once.

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  • Hanna
    VIP June 2019
    Hanna ·
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    I would go with just wine and beer only, and make it unlimited. No tickets and definitely no switching to cash part way through. I would find something else in your budget to scale back on in order to make this happen.

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  • Lynne
    Just Said Yes July 2022
    Lynne ·
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    My venue the alcohol is included in the cost and its a 4hr open bar and we are breaking it up into one hour cocktail hour closed for dinner hour and then 3 hours open bar. Luckily its at a hotel so we have a room block and then quite a few different hotels nearby that they could choose from.
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  • Emily
    Dedicated August 2022
    Emily ·
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    Thanks for the feedback! We unfortunately can’t afford to have an open bar the whole time and would rather spend on good food and photography/videography, so we’ll have to have some way to limit it.
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  • Emily
    Dedicated August 2022
    Emily ·
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    Our venue said people do drink tickets all the time for weddings so I don’t personally think there’s anything wrong with it lol. They can also be designed to look cute. I even went to a big event at Nike once where they gave out meal tickets, so I think they can be done well.


    We’re more so deciding whether to just do wine and beer or also include liquor for just part of the night, because there’s no way we can afford even when and beer for everyone all night (it would probably cost over $2,000).
    I like the idea of charging for liquor!
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  • Emily
    Dedicated August 2022
    Emily ·
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    Why is that? I thought it would be much better to give them alcohol for a toast than to not give it at all.
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