In the midst of your wedding planning you may come across a venue that allows you to provide your own liquor. While on the surface this sounds like an amazing deal with potentially huge cost savings, there are a number of things you should keep in the back of your mind and questions you should ask right away!
Rules and Regulations
There's no doubt that the wedding venue you choose will have some pretty specific rules about bringing in your own beer, wine, and liquor. Most will list them on their website (FAQ is always a good place to look!), otherwise, be sure to ask up front. Some venues limit alcohol consumption to beer and wine only and don’t permit hard liquor, while others may allow it. More often than not, venues will require a shuttle service to be offered if you are serving hard liquor and sometimes may even require security. But, nearly all will require a licensed and insured bartending service to serve your liquor at the event. It's also important to note that nearly all venues and catering companies have a no shot or liquor served ‘straight’ policy, so plan accordingly.
One of the first decisions you need to make before making a run to the liquor store is figuring out what specific drinks you want to serve at your reception. There are multiple consumption guides available online that can assist you in knowing how much liquor to purchase based on the number of adult wedding guests and the length of your reception. However, at the end of the day, knowing your guests preferences will help determine most of what you need to purchase. If you know many of your friends and family are into craft beers or are a big red wine crowd, this can help you determine what to go a little heavier on when ordering. And, don't forget to add some sodas and juices for your non-drinking guests too!
Signature cocktails can be a great personal touch and add to the vibe of your wedding. Just keep in mind that specialty drinks often require special liquors, mixers, or glassware—on top of the basic supplies needed to make simple cocktails. This can not only add to your costs, but also to the items that might be opened for one or two drinks and left over at the end of the reception.
When purchasing your own liquor you'll need to figure out how and when to deliver it to your wedding venue and how to get it home. Many liquor stores and bartending services will offer shopping delivery at little or no additional costs. Not only can they make recommendations about how much liquor you will need, but they will often buy back any unopened bottles. There is typically going to be way more beer, wine, and liquor to haul than you think, so sometimes the purchasing is better left to the pros. Also keep in mind when shopping that while half gallon bottles seem like a great value, they are hard to pick up and pour, potentially leaving you with a lot of leftovers.
While your wedding venue and bartending service will carry liability insurance, as the hosts of the event, it is a great idea to look into liability insurance for yourselves as well. You may even be able to get an event rider on your homeowners or renters insurance policy that covers you in the event of a problem.
Having the ability to purchase your own liquor can offer you huge savings on your reception budget. Just be sure to ask the right questions. And, don’t forget about ice!
Hero photo courtesy J Wiley Photography