An easy way to keep your budget in check is to bring in your own alcohol (if you plan on serving booze). The first step is to ask your venue or caterer if this is allowed; many packages include the alcohol and will not allow you to bring your own. The second step is figuring out what you want to serve; beer, wine, bubbles and/or liquor. Keeping it to beer and wine will also help the budget, as well as keeping your shopping list short. Once you decide what to serve, the third step is to figure out how much you will need and go shopping! I found the infographic below to help you to calculate how much you will need for you reception:
One thing to keep in mind, you know your family/friends better than the authors of this infographic. If your reception is going to be attended by a beer chugging crew, then you might have to rethink your shopping list. You definitely do not want to run out or have to make a last minute trip to the store. Another good tip, most liquor stores will allow you to return your unused merchandise if you buy in bulk, so make sure to check the stores policy (this does not work in California, so be warned!).
There are many other things to think about, including (but not limited to):
-Self serve bars (yes, your friends will pour more than suggested)
-Liability insurance (BYOB might exclude you from your caterers’ insurance)
-Time/day of week (early weddings or Sundays may decrease consumption)
-Mixers and garnishes (limit your choices and it will keep your list short)
-Display of options (you’ll want to make sure your guests know what’s available. Like the one from Weddings by Jamie)
The last step when planning your BYOB bar, have fun and enjoy your reception!