Wedding Alcohol Calculator: How Much Alcohol Do You Need for Your Wedding?

When it comes to planning your reception, thinking about how much wedding alcohol you’ll need can be a daunting task, especially if you’re on a tight budget. You don’t want to run out of alcohol while the party is in full swing! You’ll also want to have the right amounts of different drinks to keep everyone happy. If you’re overwhelmed with this tricky topic, don’t worry! We want to make it as easy as possible for you to calculate and customize your wedding alcohol for your special day.

Check out our wedding alcohol guide to help you figure out how much you’ll need to buy for your big day!

What to Consider

There’s no magic number when it comes to how much alcohol you’ll need to serve on your wedding day, but there are a few things to keep in mind that will guarantee you have enough for everyone. First, think about the size of your wedding and how long it will last. If you have a large wedding that lasts all day, you’ll need more alcohol than if you’re having a smaller, shorter wedding. Second, think about what kind of drinking your guests will be doing. If they’re mostly wine drinkers, you’ll need less liquor than if they’re mostly beer drinkers. And finally, consider your budget. The more expensive the alcohol, the less you’ll need to serve.

1. Time of Year

The time of year and time of day will have an impact on the type of alcohol you buy and how much. If your reception is in the morning or early afternoon, then your guests won’t expect to be drinking a lot. However, if it’s a summer evening celebration that will carry on until the sun rises, then you’ll need to be prepared with plenty of drinks to keep the party going. When it comes to the time of year, you’ll want fruity wines and fresh cocktails to complement the warm weather. Whereas in winter, your guests will appreciate cozy mulled wine, whisky, or winter punch.

2. Your Guests

The first step is to determine how many people will be drinking alcohol at your wedding. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not as straightforward as you might think. For example, if you have 100 guests invited, but you know that only 50 of them will drink alcohol, then you only need to worry about buying enough for 50 people.

3. Your Style of Wedding

There will be drink differences between having a formal and extravagant wedding or a casual garden celebration. For the former, you’ll need champagne and wine, and you might want to plan on including some elegant cocktails to impress your guests. If you’re having an intimate and informal special day, then you can focus on a select range of drinks depending on your guests’ preferences. This could just be beer and wine.

4. Type of Service

The type of food you serve will also require certain drinks. If you’re having fish and meat you’ll want wine to complement each. If you’ll be serving hors d’ouvres, then you might want champagne or special cocktails. Whereas if it’s a family meal or buffet then your guests will expect a mix of beer and wine or sangria, but you probably won’t need cocktails. You can even look around for local craft beers or ciders.

5. Your Budget

One of the biggest factors is of course your budget. If you want to keep costs down, then the minimum you’ll need is beer, wine and perhaps a few bottles of champagne for a toast during the reception. However, if you’re flexible on your budget, then including signature cocktails and other forms of liquor, like vodka, gin and whiskey will definitely be appreciated by your guests! Many wedding venues also offer different open bar packages, that vary from basic to premium depending on the brands of alcohol you want to include. So make sure to ask your venue or caterer about the different beverage packages available.

wedding alcohol
Photography: Clara Cooper | Catering: Matstudion

Types of Wedding Alcohol

Beer, wine, or champagne? When it comes to wedding alcohol, there are a few things you need to take into account. The first is the type of alcohol you want to serve. There are many options available, from beer and wine to hard liquor. So you’ll need to decide what type of alcohol will be best for your wedding based on your budget and the preference of your guests.
Many popular cocktails are often served at weddings too. Some of the most popular include champagne, wine, and mixed drinks. Cocktails can be made with a variety of different liquors and mixers, so there is sure to be something that everyone will enjoy. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something non-alcoholic, many wedding receptions also offer a variety of non-alcoholic options as well.

Types of Alcohol Bars

There are so many different types of wedding alcohol bars that it can be hard to decide which one is right for your big day. Do you want a traditional bar with all the classic cocktails, or something a little more unique like a wine and cheese bar? Some of the most popular types of bars include:

1. The Open Bar

This is probably the most popular type of bar at weddings, and usually includes beer, wine, and hard liquor. With an open bar, guests can come up and help themselves to whatever drinks they would like, without having to pay for them. This can be a great option if you want your guests to be able to enjoy themselves without having to worry about money.

2. The Cash Bar

With a cash bar, guests will need to pay for their drinks. This can be a good option if you want to keep costs down, or if you think some of your guests might overindulge if they don’t have to pay for their drinks!

3. The Limited Bar

A limited bar is similar to a cash bar, but with a few select drinks that are free for guests to enjoy. This can be a good option if you want to offer some free drinks but still keep costs under control. This bar typically only includes beer and wine and doesn’t offer hard liquor.

4. The BYOB

Bring Your Own Bottle! This is becoming increasingly popular at weddings, as it allows guests to bring their own alcoholic beverages to share

5. The Signature Drink Bar

A signature drink bar is a great way to add a personal touch to your wedding alcohol selection. This type of bar allows you to choose one or two special drinks that represent you as a couple and offer them to your guests. This is a great option for couples who want to put their own unique spin on their wedding day.

wedding alcohol
Photography: Agra Photo Bali | Planner & Stylist: Long Table Events | Venue: Noku Beach House

When Should I Start Planning For My Wedding Alcohol?

It’s never too early to start planning for your wedding alcohol! Whether you’re having a small gathering or a large party, you’ll want to make sure you have enough for everyone. As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to start thinking about your wedding alcohol at least a few months in advance. This will give you time to research your options and figure out what kinds of alcohol you want to serve at your reception. If you’re not sure where to start, consider talking to a professional wedding planner or caterer. They’ll be able to give you some great ideas and help you figure out what will work best for your big day.

Also, if you’re hoping to serve a specific type of alcohol or create custom cocktails, you’ll need to start planning early so that you can source the ingredients and figure out any necessary logistics. On the other hand, if you’re simply looking to stock a bar with basic beverages, you can probably wait until closer to the wedding date. 

Wedding Alcohol Calculator

Although the exact number of drinks you buy will be specific to your special day, there are some ratios that you can follow as a general overview. Bear in mind that these are estimates, so you can reduce or increase the number based on your own and your guests’ preferences. But as a rule of thumb, it’s safe to assume that on average, 70-80% of your guests will drink beer and wine while 20-30% will drink hard liquor or spirits.

Wine: The number of wine bottles you should buy for your wedding ultimately comes down to your number of guests and whether you consider most to be light, average, or heavy drinkers. One common approach would be to calculate anywhere between 1/2 a bottle to 2/3 a bottle per person.
For example, if you’re planning on inviting 100 guests, then you can calculate 100 guests x 2/3 = 67 bottles

Beer: In general, beer is overwhelmingly preferred by men versus women. In this case, one approach would be to calculate the number of male guests at your wedding and assume 2 bottles of beer per person.

Champagne: If you’re planning on including a champagne toast at your wedding reception, then one common approach to calculating the number of bottles needed is to assume 1 champagne bottle per 6 guests.

Spirits/Hard Liquor: Vodka remains the go-to spirit for most of your guests who opt for a spirit beverage. So one way to get a fair estimate of how many bottles you’ll need is to figure out how many of your guests are vodka drinkers.
On average, a 1 liter bottle of Vodka equates to 22 drinks. If you assume that each guest with a preference for vodka could have up to 3 drinks, then each 1 liter bottle of vodka is equivalent to 7 guests. This means that if 40 of your wedding guests drinks vodka, you should buy 5-6 1 liter bottles of the spirit.
Once you have an estimate of your vodka bottles, apply a more conservative approach to your gin, tequila, rum and whiskey bottles.

how much alcohol do I need to buy for my wedding
Photography: Emily Wren

Now that you know what to consider when calculating how much alcohol you need for your wedding, you’re ready to start buying! For more food and drink wedding advice, head over to WedBoard. You’ll find inspiration including 12 Tips on How To Pick Your Wedding Menu, 21 Unique and Creative Wedding Food Bars & Drink Bar Ideas, and 28 Delicious Wedding Cake Alternatives.

Featured image: Darina Stoda

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