Learn How Much Alcohol To Have At Your Wedding

Learn How Much Alcohol To Have At Your Wedding

How Much Alcohol To Have At Your Wedding
Here Today Photography

Everyone loves a wedding with an open bar. We’re sure the two of you will have the most beautiful wedding. But who are you kidding, it’s the open bar that your guests’ are secretly (or not so secretly) excited about. 

While an open bar may be the first thing on everyone else’s mind, it’s often one of the last things engaged couples have on theirs’. Wedding catering can be one of the more confusing decisions a couple makes because it’s tricky to calculate. Thoughts such as: How much wine to buy for a wedding? How many kegs for a wedding? Are not uncommon. Rest assured, we’re here to help. Keep reading and decide for yourself if a cash bar is right for you.

What Type of Bar Would You Like?

Kate Moran Edwares - Eco Caterers
Kate Moran Edwares Photography

Before we can answer how much alcohol you’ll need for a wedding, let’s figure out the type of bar service you wish to offer.

According to the experts at A Practical Wedding, a beer and wine only wedding is usually acceptable, especially if you additionally offer a batch cocktail or two, and provide a variety of beer and wine.

When it comes to figuring out how much alcohol for a wedding will be enough, “As a general rule, assume guests will have 2 drinks in the first hour of the open bar, and 1-1.5 additional drinks each following hour,” says Lauren, Eco Caters Senior Event Coordinator.

There are three basic types of wedding bars:

Full Open Bar

Although the most gracious approach, it’s also the most expensive. The higher number of spirits and mixers you’ll need on-hand will set you back a pretty penny.

A good rule of thumb is to buy 10 bottles of vodka, 6 bottles of whiskey, 6 bottles of gin, 4 bottles of scotch, 2 bottles tequila, 2 bottles of triple sec, 2 bottles of vermouth, 4 cases of beer, and 2 cases of wine for every 100 guests.

Beer and Wine Only Bar

The most affordable approach is to serve your guests a nice variety of beer and wine. Choose a few beer options (at least one light and one full bodied) and a red wine and white option for variety. Most commonly, people purchase 60-70% wine and 30-40% beer.

If you fear some of the heavier drinkers in your party may get out of hand during your wedding, choosing a beer and wine only bar at the reception will be a safe choice. We’ve noticed the consumption of alcohol greatly diminishes when you do not offer hard liquor.

“How much wine do I need for a wedding?” you ask. Great question! Choose your wine selection based on temperature and food pairing. If it’s hot, and you’re offering lighter courses, stock-up on more white and rose wine. If it’s fall or winter, and you’re planning on serving beef or pasta, choose more reds.

“How many kegs do I need for a wedding?” Again, great question!  Well, you can typically get 165 glasses of beer out of a full sized keg and 80 glasses out of a pony. These keg calculations are based on a standard 12-ounce pour.

Beer, Wine, and a few choice signature cocktails

Our personal favorite is to offer guests a variety of beer and wine, along with a few select cocktails and mixed drinks. Old Fashioned, Moscow Mules, Classic Pimm’s Cup, and Mint Juleps, are among some of the more popular cocktails served at a wedding. It can also be fun to rename these cocktail staples with the couple’s nicknames, pets, or inside jokes.

Justin Element - Eco Caterers
Justin Element Photography

Know Your Guests

Are your fans and family overwhelmingly winos, cocktail drinkers, craft beer connoisseurs, or seltzer guzzlers? If you know, that’s great! If not, don’t fret. If your guests are not the biggest wine drinkers, then you know you can scratch that one off your list. By considering what your guests prefer drinking, you’re able to able to more accurately gauge how much of each item to purchase.

How Long is Your Bar Open?

If you plan on serving alcohol before the ceremony, or your dance time exceeds four hours, expect your guests to consume more alcoholic beverages. Easy money saver tips: keep your bar closed until after the ceremony and tray pass beverages during cocktail hour.

How Much Alcohol For A Wedding?

Now that you’ve thoughtfully dreamt-up your perfect wedding bar, it’s time to play with the hard numbers. Luckily, these days there are customized apps and websites for everything. To calculate exactly how much alcohol you want to buy for a wedding, and how much buying the alcohol will cost, there are an infinite array tools out there to help you. A couple of the most useful alcohol calculators we suggest, are The Alcohol Calculator and The Evite Drink Calculator.

Kate Moran Edwares - Eco Caterers
Kate Moran Edwares Photography

The Golden Rule: Don’t Skimp on Wedding Alcohol

After you’ve paid for the venue, the dress, the flowers, the table decor, and your catering, the bar tab can feel like an unnecessarily costly expense. In the moment, you might think buying conservatively, is one of the easiest ways to save money. As discussed above, there are definitely ways to pair down on the price of your intoxicants, but cutting quantity is not one of them.

“Brides and grooms commonly make the grave mistake of not buying enough alcohol,” says Emily Brune, Co-owner of Eco Caters.  

“While couples think they’re saving money, it actually makes their event more costly. In reality, when the libations run dry, their bartender has to leave in the middle of the wedding to make an emergency run to the nearest liquor store. They end up paying a higher price per bottle than if they would have ordered everything in bulk or from their catering company.”

There’s also no downside to having too much. Alcohol keeps well and most likely you’ll drink it over the coming months. It’s also important to note that most bar companies and liquor stores have generous return policies on unopened bottles or cases. So do your homework beforehand and know your liquor store’s return policy.

Want a Tried-and-True Shortcut? The easiest way to answer the question, “how much alcohol should I buy for a wedding?” is to contact our friendly team at Eco Caters [email protected]. With a few simple questions, we can draft a beer, wine, and cocktail menu that suits your budget and your needs.

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