Six Essential Ways to Manage Bar Costs at the Reception

Six Essential Ways to Manage Bar Costs at the Reception

Weddings are expensive, and finding ways to make them both memorable and affordable can be quite the challenge. Everyone dreams of that picture-perfect wedding day, but nobody wants to embark on a marriage shackled by debt.

Working with a small wedding budget isn’t easy but, with a little bit of planning and research, it’s doable—and can still be stylish. One of the key places to cut costs is on the big-ticket items like booze. The obvious ways to cut liquor costs would be either a cash bar or a dry wedding, but neither are terrific wedding etiquette. There are ways to reduce costs without pouring cold water on the festivities.

Here are six essential and creative ways to manage bar costs at the reception:

  1. A Limited Bar
    Whether to offer an open bar is one of the most hotly debated wedding topics. Who doesn’t love an open bar? But consider this: Depending on factors such as the age of the guests, liquor costs for an open bar—wine, beer, and mixed drinks—can soar as high as $90 per guest, for a four-hour reception.

    Plus, unlimited alcohol can sometimes spell trouble. When you read about weddings gone wrong, serving copious amounts of alcohol was usually a culprit.

    Why not scale down the bar offerings to keep costs reasonable? Offer a selection of beers and wines and do away with the hard liquor. That will prevent having to offer a wide variety of liquor that leaves you with barely consumed bottles at the end of the night.

    Create a variety, such as two white and two red wines, and two or three varieties of beers, and include a mix of both light and dark beer. A fun tip is to offer tastings of local craft beers and wines.

  2. A Signature Cocktail
    Rather than springing for a wide variety of hard liquor, create a signature drink—make sure to give it a clever name—to offer along with the wine and beer. Signature drinks are another fabulous way to give your wedding a personal touch.

    Create “His” and “Hers” drinks. Does he love a Manhattan and does she prefer a Cosmopolitan? Serve those.

    Or match the signature drink to your wedding color scheme. If peach is your color, whip up a batch of bourbon peach sweet tea. Going with a rose-colored palette? Serve blackberry whiskey lemonade.

    To keep the drinks affordable, pick ones with ingredients that are already included in your standard bar package, like vodka and orange juice, and then add your own unique twist.

    A batch drink like punch is another cost-effective option.

  3. Limit Bar Hours
    Be creative with your bar hours—and that doesn’t mean shutting the bar down completely. A closed bar is a subtle signal to guests that the party is over. It’s one step from turning the lights up bright and playing the last song, and guests keen to keep drinking will go in search of another venue.

    But there are some clever ways to cut costs, such as offering a full bar during cocktail hour and then switching to beer and wine service at dinner. Or, switch to a cash bar after dinner. Perhaps offer one free beer brand after the open bar closes. Cash-strapped guests will happily drink the free beer, while other guests won’t mind paying for their own drinks later at night.

    Post a clever sign—“Liquor up! We switch to a cash bar at 9 p.m.”—gives guests plenty of warning.

    One tip: Don’t make a “cash bar” a cash-only bar—who carries cash around these days? Make sure credit cards are welcome.

  4. BYOB
    Bringing your own booze comes with its own set of hurdles, as liquor laws vary from state to state. But, on the plus side, it’s considerably more affordable to provide your own liquor than ordering it through your venue or wedding caterer, and you can choose your own bottles.

    First, find a venue that permits providing your own alcohol. Then shop and compare. Request quotes from several different beverage companies that offer a variety of alcohol. Opt for a beverage supplier who will reimburse you for any unopened bottles you return.

    One bonus of supplying your own booze is you get to take home what’s left at the end of the night. You may just start out your marriage with a fully-stocked bar.

    Hire a bartender.

  5. Skip the Champagne Toast
    It’s traditional to provide a glass of champagne to every guest in the room for the toasts. But that can quickly add up, to the tune of hundreds of dollars, particularly if your tastes run toward the pricier brands of champagne.

    Guests can toast the bride and groom with whatever glass they have in their hand—there’s no rule that says it must be champagne. Or forgo the fancy French bubbles and choose a more reasonably priced alternative such as a sparkling wine. Prosecco from Italy and Cava from Spain are terrific bubbly alternatives.

  6. Host a Day-Time or Weeknight Wedding
    We all tend to drink considerably more at night and on weekends. So, consider hosting a daytime wedding, which will save money on more than just your booze bill. Many wedding venues offer discounts for daytime weddings because they can double up on the day and host another wedding in the evening.

    Sunday mornings are becoming particularly popular, because you can offer a terrific brunch or lunch spread, significantly reducing your food bill as well as the bar tab.

    If guests are keen to keep partying into the evening, have a few suggestions on hand of nearby bars or dance halls where they can continue the festivities.

    Many couples choose a weeknight wedding, which also doesn’t cut down on just the bar bill, but virtually the entire event. Most guests will refrain from bellying up to the bar all night if they must show up for work bright and early the next morning. Guests can still enjoy a lovely cocktail hour and drinks with dinner, but weeknight weddings tend to shut down earlier than weekend weddings.

Some Final Thoughts

While we all love an open bar, they’re far from a wedding requirement or expectation these days. Why go into a marriage weighed down with debt? Brides and grooms are even moving away from the traditional sit-down dinner and, instead, thinking of creative options such as picnics with finger foods or cocktail receptions with a punch and hors d’oeuvres.

There are plenty of creative ways to cut bar costs without reducing the fun factor. Unique elements such as signature drinks and wine and beer tastings are another way to personalize your day.

Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding Day

Weddings are really very stressful. There are a lot of things which needs to be done and should be accomplished a month before the wedding. And well, aside from the stress brought by the things which needs to be done, preparing for your wedding day is of course expensive. Of course, we all aim and wish to save money without compromising the beauty of our big day. Here are 26 tips on how you can cut down your expenses but still have the kind of wedding that you expect and imagine.


1.Cut down your guest list. This will slash your catering costs and save on invitations and even the number of centerpieces.
2. Think off-peak season and save thousands.
3. Hold your ceremony and reception in one spot. It will cut the travel time for the vendors you pay by hour.
4. Skip the Saturday Wedding.
5. Have bigger tables so you need fewer centerpieces and tablecloths.
6. Use more greenery than flowers.
7. Swap out costly flowers- did you know peonies can be five times more expensive than roses?
8. Stick to one or two kinds of flowers.
9. Buy flowers that are in season.
10. Include nonfloral pieces, like seashells or fruit.
Food & Drink:
11. Skip the main course- just have passed hors d’oeuvres or stations.
12. Offer beer, wine and a signature cocktail instead of a full bar.
13. Skip the champagne toast.
14. Order a small one-or two-tier cake and then supplement it with a larger sheet cake (hidden in the kitchen).
15. Keep the add-ons simple.
16. Use fresh flowers, not sugar ones.
17. Skip exotic fillings like guava and mango.
Stationary & Favors:
18. Get single-page invites to save on postage.
19. Give out one favor per couple.
20. Make your cake the favors.
21. Have favors double as escort cards.
22. Email your save-the-dates.
23. Make your own menu cards, escort cards and wedding favor packaging.
Photo, Video & Music:
24. Have a photographer you love but can’t afford the prices? Ask them if they have an associate shooter who will do your wedding for less.
25. Opt for smaller band
26. Hire a band or DJ who can do both the ceremony and the reception.
Cutting down your budget doesn’t mean that you need to compromise the the quality and beauty of your big day.  Enjoy your wedding without spending too much.

Recipe: Lavender Lemonade

This twist on traditional lemonade is a fun way to cool down on warm days. I was surprised at how unique and refreshing this drink truly was. Below you will find the step-by-step instructions on how to make lavender lemonade.


  • 1 Tablespoon Of Dried Lavender Flowers
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • Water
  • Ice
  • 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Aardvark Eco-Flex Straws


  •  20 Minutes


  •  8


Super simple and delicious! If you remember, I used these fun straws in our last cocktail post. Thanks to the Aardvark company for sending us some free samples so I could dress up my glass of lavender lemonade!

Combine your sugar, dried lavender flowers, and two cups of boiling water in a bowl.

Stir until the sugar dissolves and let the lavender steep for 20 minutes. You can allow it to steep longer if you would like a stronger flavor, but too long can make your lemonade taste like soap!

Use a strainer to remove the lavender flowers from your water mixture.

Add in your lavender syrup, lemon juice, two cups of cold water, and stir. Pour over ice and enjoy!

*You can also use fresh lavender leaves and flower to make this lemonade, however you will need a larger quantity because the dried flowers are much too potent.

Did you serve lavender lemonade as a signature cocktail? Send us your photos to or tag us @DIYBrideBlog on Instagram.



DIY: Hot Cocoa Favors

My best friend is getting married, and we threw her a winter wonderland themed bridal shower. Read below to see the instructions on these simple white chocolate hot cocoa favors I created.


  • Mason Jars
  • Hot Cocoa Mix About 65 Oz
  • 12 Oz Bag of Mini Dehydrated Marshmallows
  • Pearl Candy 5 lb Bag


  • 30 Minutes for 50 Favors


  • Super Simple

This is all about layering

Start with a layer of the white cocoa mix. Since I was using jelly mason jars I used about 1/4cup of the cocoa mix.

Top with a layer of pearl candies. I used about 2 tablespoons of these edible pearls.

















Finish with mini marshmallows.

Seal, tie with ribbon, and you’re done!

Did you make your own edible favors? Post your photos to our Facebook wall or tag @DIYBrideBlog on Instagram.



Recipe: Cinnamon Bun Stuffed Apples

These cinnamon bun stuffed apples would make a yummy breakfast treat or a beautiful addition to any brunch spread.



  • 8 Apples
  • Cinnamon Rolls
  • Cinnamon
  • Brown Sugar
  • Butter


  • Prep: 20 Minutes
  • Baking time: 45 Minutes


  •  8


These were very simple to make, but be sure to read the tips below to see what I learned when making these yummy treats.

Cut the top off of your apples.

Use a spoon to scrape out the insides of the apple, leaving enough flesh to not puncture the sides and bottom.

Use the melted butter to coat the inside of your apples with the brown sugar and cinnamon.

Place a cinnamon bun inside of each apple.

Put all of your apples onto a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350°, then cover with tinfoil for another 15 minutes. Drizzle with frosting and let them cool slightly before enjoying!

*If you do not cover the cinnamon buns with tinfoil for the last 15 minutes, they will over bake and get a hard and overdone on top. Also, you really do not need to scoop out very much of the apple flesh. If you do they will split and become a pile of gooey goodness.

Did you try out this recipe? Send us your photos to or tag us @DIYBrideBlog on Instagram.



Recipe: Valentine’s Day Cocktail

While the name of this cocktail is sometimes referred to as the broken heart, I think it should be renamed to love spell! This would be a delicious complement to your home-cooked Valentine’s Day meal for your sweetie or as a fun signature cocktail.


  • Chambord 1 oz
  • Vodka 1 oz
  • Orange Juice 2 oz
  • Splash Of Grenadine
  • Aardvark Eco-Flex Straws


  • Minutes!


  •  1


This cocktail is not only simple, but also delicious!


All you need to do is mix all of your ingredients together, pour over ice, insert your straw, and enjoy!

The Aardvark company sent over some of their cute straws for me to test out and I am excited to be abel to finally share them with you! You can check out their full selection of colors and unique Eco-Flex straws by clicking here.  I love the fact that they are eco friendly, but also super cute and fun to use. Thanks Aardvark!

Do plan on having your own signature cocktail at your wedding? We would love to hear from you! Contact us at or tag us @DIYBrideBlog on Instagram.



Recipe: Peek-a-boo Pound Cake

With these peekaboo pound cake recipes all over the internet I had to give them a try to let you know the real deal on how easy they are to make. Did I have success or a major fail? You will have to read below to get the true scoop on just how simple these cakes are to make.


  • 2 Boxes of Poundcake Mix (Or if you are feeling ambitious you can make the cake from scratch.)
  • Food Coloring
  • Cookie Cutter


  • 25 Minutes to Prep
  • 1 -1.5 Hours to Chill
  • 1.5 Hours to Bake


  • 8-10 Slices per loaf


  • This is not difficult, but does take some patience to ensure your pound cake turns out perfect.


Make 1 of the cakes per the instructions on the box. Add in food coloring to your desired shade.

Place in a loaf pan and bake. You will want to under bake the cake by about 10 minutes, so this means based off of my recipe I had the cake in the oven for about 35 minutes.

Once the cake is done remove from oven and let cool. Once the cake is cooled remove from the cake pan and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. I did not want to wait that long, so I threw the cake in the freezer for about 1 hour. When your cake has chilled slice the loaf info slices about the size of the cookie cutter you selected.


Use your cookie cutter to stamp out the shapes from each slice of cake. Thought it may not seem like you will have enough slices to fill your loaf pan, you absolutely will!

Mix up your second batch of pound cake, but this time without food coloring.

Pour a thin layer of mix into the bottom of the greased pan. When I say thin we mean thin. Too much and your pieces will float up once the bottom layer raises. I barely covered the bottom of the cake pan.

Place your cookie cutter shaped pieces of cake in a row down the middle of your pan.

Use the remainder of you batter to pour into your loaf pan. Be sure to totally cover the sides and don’t let the batter overflow!

Bake according to package instructions and let cool fully before cutting.

Through out this entire recipe I was convinced that it was too simple and that was bound to be a fail, but I can happily say I was wrong. How cute would a slice of this peekaboo pound cake be served up next to a cup of tea at a bridal shower?!  Send us your peekaboo pound cake photos to or tag us @DIYBrideBlog on Instagram.




Recipe: Spiked Caramel Hot Cocoa

These photo do not do this sea salt caramel hot cocoa justice. It is so rich and silky with just the right hint of caramel. This recipe is perfect for those chilly winter evenings. Don’t believe us? Just try it for yourself.


  • Caramel Vodka- 2 shots (Optional)
  • Whipped Cream
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate finely chopped
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Caramel Candies (4 pieces)


  • 10 Minutes


  • This will yield 3-4 servings so grab some friends to share with.


  • Making hot cocoa is so simple that you may never want to open a package of instant powder again!

On your stove top heat milk, cream, caramel candies, and caramel vodka until it is just about to boil.

While your ingredients are heating up finely chop your chocolate.

Remove from heat, and pour over chocolate. Stir with a whisk or spoon until the chocolate has totally dissolved.

Top with whipped cream, sprinkle with sea salt, and enjoy!

Since this recipe only called for 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, I used the rest of the carton to make homemade whipped cream.


Did you have any signature cocktails at your wedding or shower? Send us your recipes to or tag us @DIYBrideBlog on Instagram.

RECIPE: Peppermint Bark


  • 1 bag of white chocolate chips
  • 1 bag of dark or milk chocolate chips
  • Candy canes (or crushed ones like we used here)
  • Peppermint Extract
  • Cookie sheet


  • 30 minutes from start to finish


  • As long as you can melt chocolate, you can make this!

First, you’ll want to melt your dark chocolate using a double boiler. I’ve linked a video on how to do this here in case you’ve never done it before. Mix it until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. The photo below needs just a few more minutes of stirring until it’d be ready.

Next, you’ll want to pour the melted chocolate onto a cookie sheet. Make sure the cookie sheet has raised edges so the chocolate has a stopping point. Smooth it out using a spatula, and put it in the freezer.

While your dark chocolate is setting in the freezer, it’s time to start melting the white chocolate chips using the same technique we used for the dark chocolate. This time add the peppermint extract to the chocolate. It’s really up to you how much to add. The top photo is about half way melted and the second one is ready to be poured.

Once your chocolate is melted, grab your cookie sheet from the freezer. It should be set. Repeat the same steps of pouring and spreading the chocolate evenly over the dark chocolate using a spatula.

Once the white chocolate is evenly spread out on the cookie sheet, sprinkle the candy cane pieces on top to add a festive flare and put it back in the freezer to melt together and set.

Once the entire tray is completely set, just break it up into pieces and serve. The pieces don’t have to be perfect, and shouldn’t be! Part of the fun of bark is that it’s all different shapes and sizes.

Have you made this simple yet classic treat? Show us your bark by tagging us on Instagram @DIYBrideBlog!

Recipe: Apple Pie Bites

When it comes to desserts I am obsessed with bitesized sweets. I am not sure if it is because I feel less guilty about eating them or because they are just so cute. Check out these Apple Pie Bites I made as a Thanksgiving treat.


  • 1 Apple
  • Crescent Roll Dough
  • 3 tbsp of butter
  • Apple Pie Spice Or Cinnamon,  Nutmeg, and Cardamom
  • Brown Sugar
  • Parchment Paper
  • Baking Pan

*I made a double batch so I needed 2 apples and 2 packages of crescent rolls.


  • Prep 10 Minutes
  • Bake time 10-15 Minutes


  • They were very simple and quick to assemble.

First, preheat your oven to 375˚F. Then, peel and slice your apples. I used an apple slicer to cut my apples. If you are not using a slicer note that the crescent rolls come 8 to a pack so you will want to be sure that you have 8 apple slices. While you are cutting your apples you will want to soften your butter. Once both steps are complete, pour about 1 tablespoon of butter over the apples and mix.

In a separate container mix together 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon apple pie seasoning or 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of nutmeg and a 1/4 tsp of cardamom. I left out the cardamom because I didn’t have it in my pantry, and I still think they tasted delicious. Use what you have!

Separate and lay your crescent rolls on a parchment lined baking pan.

Sprinkle the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture onto the rolls.

Place an apple on top and drizzle a small amount of butter over the apples.

Roll the apples into the crescent rolls, baste with butter, and sprinkle with the remainder of the cinnamon sugar mix.

Place in a 375˚F oven for 10-15 minutes. Let cool for 2 minutes before plating. These left my home smelling better than any fall candle you could purchase. Serve with vanilla ice cream, apple butter, or on their own!

I am excited to try this recipe, using other fillers like peaches or Nutella! Send us your Apple Pie Bite photos to or tag us @DIYBrideBlog on Instagram.

Exit mobile version