Calculating alcohol costs is a sobering experience. Plan it right, and you can save while your guests sip away.

The Champagne Bar
Credit: Photo: Jen Fariello

Once you've hit the wedding planning ground running, you realize how fast entertaining your friends and family for an evening adds up. From the big-ticket items, like the band, to the tiniest details, like monogrammed cocktail napkins, every little thing has the potential to break the budget if you're not careful.

Families looking to dance the night away with libations in hand will quickly realize that providing cocktails for everyone you know is costly. Hosting an open bar can be really expensive, even if you go with the lower end package offered by your caterer. Don't fret. We're here to help you celebrate while sipping champagne in the most frugal ways possible. Here are some well-kept secrets to saving money on your wedding bar.

1. Buy Your Own Booze

Buying booze at your go-to spot is a lot cheaper than purchasing drinks directly through a caterer. If your venue and caterer let you supply your own liquor, wine, and beer, you can hand-select your favorite brands without breaking the bank.

Better yet, find a liquor store that allows returns. You won't fret over how many cases will have you covered if your supplier allows you to bring back unopened bottles.

2. Pay Per Head, Not Per Drink

If you think your guests will take full advantage of an open bar, try to pay per head instead of per drink. Depending on the quality of alcohol served, a single drink could run you nearly double digits while paying per head could be closer to $20 a person. You know your guests' drinking habits best, so do the math and talk to you caterer about what options are available.

3. Limit Liquor to Cocktail Hour

If you don't love the idea of a liquor-less bar, consider only offering it at certain times. Capping cocktails to just the hour before dinner allows guests to enjoy their go-to drink without costing you all night long. After all, it is called cocktail hour.

4. Pass on the Champagne Toast

Though iconic, toasting with champagne is costly. Not only are you providing every guest with a glass of bubbly, but you're also assuming every guest is going to drink it. Let your guests raise the glass that they're already sipping on to avoid throwing money down the drain.

5. Try The ½ Trick

If a champagne toast is a must, ask your caterer to cut costs by filling glasses halfway instead of the usual three-fourths. Most guests don't finish the glass anyway, and we can pretty much guarantee no one will notice.

6. Serve a Signature Drink

Signature cocktails are both creative and cost effective. Offering just one or two predetermined drinks adds a layer of personalization and satisfies guests looking for a liquor option without opening the tab to the trauma of a full bar.

WATCH: 5 Ways to Cut Wedding Costs

7. Eliminate the Most Expensive Options

If an open bar is a must, you may need to lower the bar on the brands you serve. Edit your selection of beverages by limiting the number of varieties you offer or choosing a middle or lower-tired caterer beverage package.