BYOB Wedding (for the hosts, not the guests!)

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Reception rules, state liquor laws, and other variables can effect your wedding alcohol budget. Figure out how to make the best of it, and cut costs as low as they'll go.

The date is getting closer!  Today our contributing writer, Katie Jakub, counts down to her Pi Day wedding with a look into liquor cost solutions.

Liquor: the sweet elixir that makes all of your relatives and friends shake their groove things on the dance floor.  Liquor has been giving Grandmas the courage to learn new-fangled dances since 2000 B.C.  However, the cost of liquor can add up quickly.

Many venues and their caterers require that if you’re providing liquor that you purchase it through them—the prices per package can range from nominal charges per person to $30, $40 and higher.  When you select a venue where you can bring your own alcoholic beverages, savings are in your future if you do it right.

Before we get to ways to save, make sure you know the alcohol laws of your state.  Certain states, such as Pennsylvania, do not allow you to bring liquor across the border if you’ve purchased them in other states.


If it’s illegal to transport across the border and you can’t price shop between different stores, your options are unfortunately pretty limited.   If you prefer premium brands, the big ways to save are to plan in advance, shop near the holidays when the prices drop, and to search for manufacturer and store coupons.  We found that the prices were lowest near Christmas when the big brands were marked down.  Pennsylvania’s state stores list their monthly sales online and regularly have coupons online and in the newspaper.   We also try to find the hanging coupons on our favorite brands when we buy our booze.

Good news: you can return liquor that is unopened if you have a receipt.  They do stare at you like you’re crazy when you do a return, though.


Competition in the alcohol market is your friend.  Party stores and warehouse clubs had the best prices from the locations we scouted in Ohio and Kentucky (we were visiting friends in Covington, we did not just go to look at liquor prices).  We did our final comparison between a Kentucky party warehouse store and the PA State stores.  Generally, the regular price of items in Kentucky was the sale price in PA and most of the items were on sale on average $4-$5 cheaper in Kentucky when we did our comparison.

The store where we window shopped gave 10% discounts on single item cases and 5% discounts on mixed cases.  They also had coupons on several of the items which meant multiple savings on one item.  If you’re traveling from one state to another for savings, just make sure you account for the price of gas.  Had we been able to buy in Kentucky, the savings would’ve paid for our trip and then some.

After the wedding, we’ll do a recap of how much we bought and how much we needed (and if someone had to do a liquor run!).  All of the numbers online have been very inconsistent and alcohol is something that we didn’t want to under-buy!

8 thoughts on “BYOB Wedding (for the hosts, not the guests!)

  1. Mrs. Maroon

    I wish we’d been able to do our own alcohol for our wedding. But the venue didn’t allow it. I’m pretty sure we were charged $250/keg and $40/bottle of wine. Outrageous!! We have friends that were able to buy their own beer. They had extras, so we also got to enjoy a tamale making party with the leftovers 🙂

    1. Katie Jakub Post author

      Eeek! That’s crazy! We’re not planning for leftovers, but we’re definitely not complaining if we have them!

  2. seattlegirluw

    We were lucky to find a free venue, which had the added benefit of a no-alcohol policy. We had a built-in excuse not to pay for liquor. There were a couple of people invited that we were not looking forward to seeing drunk. It was a win-win for us.

    Washington is a state-controlled liquor board, so bargain shopping would have been very difficult. Down here in Arizona, it probably would’ve been easy. Even drugstores sell hard alcohol here. Costco has great deals on mid-range products. If I were shopping for a wedding, that would be my first stop.

    1. Katie Jakub Post author

      We tried Sam’s and there prices in Ohio weren’t much better than PA controlled prices!

      Glad you were able to find a venue that helped save money and made your life easier when it came to certain guests!

    1. Katie Jakub Post author

      That’s awesome that you used that way to save. We still want a party feel and since it’s St. Patty’s Day to our fair city, we figured we should oblige!

  3. Melissa

    We have to buy the alcohol from the venue, unfortunately, but I love the idea of going to Costco and buying up tons of liquor! The best part about that is you can keep the extra for yourselves 😉

    1. Katie Jakub Post author

      Ugh, yes, the prices can be insane from the vendors! Fingers crossed for extras–only a couple weeks til we know for sure!


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