Choosing a signature cocktail for your wedding is a surefire way to add a personal flair to your day. Unfortunately, for some couples, this can feel more costly than it’s worth. From intricate and highly styled all the way to a classic cocktail, there are countless ways to incorporate a signature drink into your wedding day no matter your overall budget. You just need to know what to ask and how to work with what you’ve got!
Let’s start from the top! You and your fiancé are cocktail people! You love having friends over for a happy hour, coming up with new concoctions, and identifying as amateur mixologists; having a custom craft cocktail or two for your wedding day is a high priority! You’ve allocated a little extra to your F+B budget and are ready to start dreaming! With every cocktail, we want to start with your spirit(s) of choice. From there, we should discuss the season and location of our couple’s weddings. It seems obvious, but we would want to serve a lighter and more refreshing cocktail in the warmer months while focusing on warmer and heartier cocktails in cooler months. You may also be able to pull inspiration from the topography surrounding your venue; all factors that will not only ensure your cocktail is delicious, but also greatly enhance your guests’ experience by pulling in your chosen wedding location.
It is important to remember that when you are creating custom cocktails to the fullest extent, you will always see an additional cost added to your beverage cost. Most couples seem shocked by this when they choose to have an open bar and make the mistake of thinking that they will have the same back bar as a full on restaurant. Unfortunately, just because you have an open bar package does not mean that you will have more intricate items such as cordials, specialty simple syrups, and garnishes. Every custom cocktail we have ever seen incorporated in a couple’s wedding day required that at least one if not many specialty items be added behind the bar. With that comes an additional cost because your venue or catering service will need to purchase and add items that are outside of their standard bar packages and inventory.
Now, let’s say you really want a signature cocktail(s) but you don’t want to allocate any additional funds to your food and beverage budget line. A lot of times this is where couples jump ship. Oftentimes they request a type of cocktail unknowing that it would require ingredients that are outside of their chosen bar package, see the additional price, and decide to forgo this detailed touch. This is where we chime in to pump the breaks a little. If you find yourself in this situation, be sure to clarify with your bar service provider what exactly is included in the bar package you have chosen. From spirits to mixers to garnishes you want to ensure you are clear on the details. From there, build your cocktail. You may not be able to come close to your initial vision, but when you build a signature cocktail around what is already behind the bar you ensure that you are able to share a custom touch with your guests while not adding to the bottom line of your carefully allocated budget.
We get it, sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants, but the budget is tight-lipped. This is an area where if you are willing to compromise you can still “have it all.”
There are two main options we discuss with our couples who want to have a more elaborate signature cocktail, and want to keep the budget happy. Option one would be to forgo the full bar service and opt for a beer and wine and only serve your signature cocktail as the spirited option. Open bars of just beer and wine are significantly more cost-effective than a full bar containing liquor, so you can pull from the “savings” and focus those funds towards your masterpiece. Option two, and my personal favorite, only serve your signature cocktail(s) during happy hour. If the idea of having only beer, wine, and one or two very specific cocktails does not seem like it would appeal to the majority of your guests, then you can always opt to use your signature cocktail as a happy hour feature and focal point. When doing this you will add to your bar budget, but it will be vastly under what it would be should you include this for the entirety of your reception.
The most important thing to remember is that every venue or bartending service is different and it is always important to hash out your options and pricing with them prior to making a decision or giving up entirely. Remember to be flexible, be creative, and most importantly, know your budget prior to going into your meeting.