Looking for ways to stretch your budget when it comes to your wedding bar service? We’ve got you covered! With a little creativity, you can strike the balance between offering a great wedding bar/cocktail experience and saving some money. Plus, you can put the cash you saved towards your honeymoon – WINNING. Read on for some insider tips from Chesapeake Bartenders on how to save money on the alcohol and beverage service portion of your wedding budget.

Planning a wedding is stressful enough, especially when you realize you are over budget and have additional surprise expenses. Having a great bar is important to you, but you are not trying to break the bank offering top shelf liquor and expensive craft cocktails. But at the same time, you want something that will compliment your theme and impress your guests. Sound familiar? Read on, because we have 10 tips for creating a fantastic wedding bar that is budget-friendly.

Offer A Wine and Beer Only Wedding Bar

This is a trend we have been seeing a lot of in the last couple of years, and we don’t see it going away anytime soon. Offering beer and wine only can help cut your price per person alcohol budget in half! Why? You don’t need mixers, expensive liquor, extra serving ice, etc. Get creative with local craft beers that match your theme. Buy the wines by the case for a bigger discount. 

Create A Sangria Bar

Hot tip – everyone loves sangria. Men, women, boomers, millennials. Your great aunt Susie.  Sangria is always a crowd pleaser. And there are seasonal sangria recipes that can pair beautifully with your wedding any time of year. From fall sangrias that feature cinnamon, rosemary and burnt orange flavor profiles, to white summer sangrias that include fresh berries and mint, the possibilities are endless. Sangrias display beautifully as well. Batch them in a 2 gallon glass dispenser with sliced fruits to show off an array of colors and ingredients. Ready for the best part? Sangrias are inexpensive compared to many other types of alcoholic beverages. A 2 gallon batch of sangria can be made with a 1.5 liter bottle of wine, club soda, sprite, a small bottle of brandy and a small bottle of triple sec. Serve it over ice and you have 50+ servings. 

Implement A Mini Cocktail Menu During Cocktail Hour

Just like cocktail hour usually features grazing boards and small bites, cocktail hour can offer mini samplings of cocktail creations. You can feature a signature drink in mini mason jars (jars can be purchased on Amazon). In general, you don’t want people to get intoxicated quickly during cocktail hour, so featuring one or two mini cocktails is a great way to get a drink in their hand, but also slow down the speed at which people are consuming alcohol prior to the main reception. A really great idea we saw on Pinterest were pre-made mini margaritas poured into Mini Patron bottles. They looked beautiful and also served the purpose of a smaller portion size. 

Try Offering Beer and Wine Only At Cocktail Hour

If you are having a full bar at your main reception, a way to reduce the cost of necessary liquor is to serve only beer and wine during cocktail hour. 

Smaller Cups Means Smaller Pours

The bigger the glassware, the bigger the drink. The bigger the drink, the more alcohol and ice you will need. If you stick to 9 oz cups, you can help control the cost of all ingredients. 

Larger Bottles = More Cost Effective

1.5 Liter Bottles of Wine and Liquor will provide the most bang for your buck. Also try to buy by the case if you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for a bulk discount.

Shop Soda Sales To Save Money on Mixers

Sodas have gotten more expensive in the last year due to supply chain issues and inflation. One of the ways we have combatted rising costs, is by shopping sales when they happen. Sam’s Club has some of the best deals on soda flats. We also buy Pepsi products when they are on sale, and coke products when they are on sale. The most cost effective way to buy soda  is to buy 2 Liter bottles instead of cans. 

Avoid Top Shelf Brands  – Ask For Rail Liquor Instead

While you might prefer Tito’s and Don Julio, it doesn’t mean you need to serve all your wedding guests top shelf brands. Instead go for “rail” versions – these are not usually recognizable brands, but they are way cheaper. Plus, I don’t care how much expertise one has, NO ONE can tell which brand of vodka is in a vodka cranberry cocktail. If you live in a state that allows grocery stores like Walmart or Costco to sell alcohol – get thee to one of these big box grocers and purchase liquor there. The Kirkland brands offered at Costco are very high quality spirits, but much more cost-effective than top shelf brands. If you live in a state where Trader Joe’s sells booze, buy wine by the case there and check out their TJ branded liquor. You will save a lot of money AND the quality is fantastic too. Win Win!


We hope these ideas help save you some money on your wedding bar. If you are in the Mid-Atlantic and are looking for a professional bartending company to service your wedding, please complete the form below: