9/20 Real Bride Shannon: Raising the Bar

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It’s kind of a no-brainer when it comes to saving money — full open bars are a huge money sink. Not only are they expensive, but if you’re DIYing the B-A-R, you have the impossible task of reading people’s mind to figure out just how much gin, tequila and bourbon you need to have ready to serve up. In general, the fewer choices you have, the less you end up spending, but when our bar tab was counted, adding a couple of signature cocktails really saved bank! If you’re on the fence, let me give you my two cents … in the end it may be worth two grand (give or take)!

Not everyone loves beer or wine.

My attitude is kind of, hey, free is free and you don’t complain about free, but for people who just lean toward hard liquor, it doesn’t hurt to have an option or two. You can keep options as simple as a vodka-soda or bourbon and Coke, then add something fruity or seasonal, which tends to appease people who aren’t frequent drinkers.

You can control the price and the alcohol percentage.

Let’s face it: when you’re serving up free booze, some people have a tendency to overindulge. Whether you have the freedom to bring pre-mixed cocktails or your bartender has to serve them up on location, you don’t have to pour those drinks too stout. On top of that, if you’re mixing things up (particularly something fruity) it’s totally acceptable to grab a cheap handle. Keep something top shelf for the family and close friends if you want, but high-dollar rum is pretty superfluous in a daiquiri.

Make it about you.

By all means, serve something you like, especially if you can take unserved alcohol home. We offered our guests a basic rocks margarita because we’re in Texas where margs are a way of life and anyone who doesn’t like them is treated as suspect. Then to welcome the first weekend of fall, we whipped up a few gallons of apple pie “moonshine” (but substituted vodka for Everclear because, drunken toasts) a few weeks ahead of time. It keeps for months, tastes better the longer it sits and is a regular crowd pleaser at parties and on Amazon Prime-and-Commitment nights at home. We polished off the final leftovers a couple months later at my birthday party!

It just makes cents.

Literally. All said and done, purchasing beer and wine from Sam’s Club, each bottle of beer ran about a buck a piece and each glass of wine a little less than a dollar. Each 8-ounce cocktail serving ran just under 50 cents and they were a huge hit. We did  over-purchase for the bar by a bit, but all in all we served about as many cocktails as we did beer and wine combined, so it turned out to be a smart decision for the money.

Like most things wedding related, what you serve behind the bar is only limited by your creativity! A boozy lemonade can be fancied up with some berry infusion. Simple liquor-mixer combos get taken to the next level with herbs or ginger root. Give your creation a cute name that holds a special meaning to you and your favorite or keep it classic. Your guests will love the options and you’ll love the savings!

Did you serve signature cocktails at your wedding? What did your guests love? Let us know in the comments below!