How much alcohol do I need for a wedding?

If you’ve already started to plan your wedding, you very likely are overwhelmed by how expensive everything is: the venue, the photographers, the makeup and clothes – all of this quickly adds up. One popular trick that couples use to save on their wedding is to buy alcohol for the reception themselves if the caterer and the venue allow this. This can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars, but how much alcohol should you buy? Our simple guide will help you determine the approximate amount of alcohol you need to stock for your wedding.

Types of bars at a wedding

You might already know that there are several types of bars you can choose from for your wedding. The most common ones are an open bar, a cash only bar, a limited bar and a wine and beer bar. An open bar is the most common option used at weddings, in this case, guests can drink as much as they want without any limit. This is also the most expensive option of all. You can also opt for a wine and beer wedding bar where you only serve beer and wine for free, you can also add a couple of select cocktails if you want. A cash-only bar is an option where guests can drink whatever they want from a fully stocked bar, but they have to pay for all the drinks themselves. It’s better to avoid this last option, as most people can take it as rude or unwelcoming.

Think about what your guests are like when estimating how much alcohol you need for a wedding

No internet guide can help you get a good estimate of how much alcohol to buy for a wedding if you don’t know your guests. Before doing any calculations think about what kinds of alcohol your guests like and how much they usually drink. This will help you figure out if you should stock up on beer, wine or spirits and how much of each type of alcohol you need.

Another thing to consider is the timing of your wedding: if the reception is in the afternoon, guests will probably drink less than they would at an evening reception, same goes for the weekday vs. weekend weddings.

How much alcohol to buy for a wedding?

Finally, here is our guideline for the amount of alcohol at a wedding: expect to serve one serving of alcohol per one hour of the reception for each guest. For example, if your reception will last for 3 hours and you’ve invited 50 people, you should will need 150 servings of alcohol on average. You can adjust this number depending on how much your guests typically drink. As for the types of alcohol, the typical ratio is to have 50 percent of wine, 20 percent of beer and 30 percent of spirits, but you also need to make sure that you stock up on different wines, beers, spirits and mixers. If you’re planning on serving only beer and wine at your wedding, opt for 25 percent of beer and 75 percent of wine unless your friends and family are primarily beer drinkers.

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