What Happens to Half-Empty Bottles of Alcohol After a Wedding?

Etiquette, Food & Drink
alcohol at a wedding

Photo: Lindsay Hite of Readyluck

When the bar is closed and the lights are on, it's time for your wedding vendors to pack up and head home. But even though wedding guests can't get a drink, there's a good chance you'll have a few bottles of wine or liquor that are open and half-full — which means you can't return them, but you don't really want to throw them away. What happens to those partially-consumed bottles when your wedding is over? We asked the experts.

The fate of those open bottles of booze depends on both your venue and your caterer. Many caterers work with liquor suppliers that will buy back unopened bottles and cases, helping you recoup some of your catering costs once the wedding is over. However, those opened bottles aren't eligible, so talk to your caterer about their policies (as well as their liability). Some may allow you to keep the bottles for yourselves, while others might have to take the bottles with them and dispose of them, even if only a few shots have been poured.

You should also check with your venue regarding their policies and liability insurance. If you have to buy liquor through your venue, you probably won't be able to take the opened bottles with you at the end of the night. This may even apply to cases — if you buy a case of champagne and there are two unopened bottles remaining, some venues can't refund you for the bottles that weren't poured because most of the case was consumed.

If you're having your wedding in a private venue, there's a good chance you can keep the bottles. Ask your venue manager or the caterer to set aside any bottles that have been open so you can share a glass of wine with your wedding party before you head to bed or pick them up in the morning. For things like liquor, where the product is identical between bottles, combine two half-full bottles of the same brand of vodka, screw on the cap, and add it to the bar at your house.

See more: Can We Have a BYOB Wedding?

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