How Much Alcohol to Buy for a Wedding: A Comprehensive Guide

How much alcohol for your wedding

Your wedding day is a celebration of love and commitment, and you want to make sure that your guests have an unforgettable experience. 

To achieve this, it’s essential to have the right amount of alcohol on hand to keep the party going. Whether you’re having an intimate gathering or a grand affair, serving the right amount of drinks is crucial to the success of your event.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll be exploring everything you need to know about alcohol for your wedding day. From wine and liquor to beer and champagne, we’ll provide you with insider tips and useful information to help you estimate how much alcohol you’ll need to purchase.

Factors to Consider When Buying Alcohol for a Wedding

When it comes to buying alcohol for a wedding, the amount that you need varies depending on a few key factors. The main factor is the number of guests attending, followed by the types and quantities of drinks they prefer. 

It’s important to note that in most cases, the average guest will consume 1-2 alcoholic drinks over the course of an evening, however, this can vary due to individual tastes and preferences. 

To get an accurate estimate of how much alcohol to buy for your wedding, consider these three factors:

1. Number of Guests

This is probably the biggest factor when calculating how much alcohol to buy for a wedding. Generally speaking, plan on providing one drink per person per hour during cocktail hour (or 45 minutes if a full bar is available) and one drink per person every other hour during the reception. 

Additionally, keep in mind that some guests may be pregnant or abstaining from drinking altogether, so make sure to account for these guests when purchasing alcohol. 

2. Duration of Event

The duration of the event also affects how much alcohol to buy for a wedding. If the event is going to be relatively short (2-3 hours, for example), plan on providing one drink per person during cocktail hour and then one drink per person every other hour after that. 

For longer events (4-5 hours or more), plan on providing two drinks per person during cocktail hour and one drink every other hour throughout the reception.

3. Type of Alcohol To Buy

Regarding calculating how much alcohol to buy for a wedding, it’s important to consider the types of alcohol you would like to offer. It is wise to provide a variety of options in order to accommodate different preferences. 

Popular choices for adult beverages include beer, wine, hard liquor, and some specialty cocktails. If you are hosting a large event with numerous guests, it’s best to look at prior wedding experiences or check in with your bartender about popular drinks so that you can plan accordingly. 

You also keep in mind for any additional supplies such as mixers, garnishes, and ice that may be necessary depending on what type of drinks you will serve. 

For liquors, it is often preferred to provide one type of vodka, one type of whiskey, one type of rum and a mix of other liquors such as gin, tequila and liqueur. 

If you are offering signature cocktails during the reception or cocktail hour, keep in mind that you may need more alcohol than usual to accommodate for these drinks. Alternatively, consider having a cash-only bar for guests who want specialty mixed drinks. 

Finally, if nonalcoholic beverages are desired at the wedding, remember to purchase enough coolers, sodas, and juices to accommodate those who choose not to drink.  

With careful consideration of the types of drinks, you would like your guests to enjoy on your special day, you can ensure that everyone has a fun time while staying safe.  

By taking into account these three factors, you can get an accurate estimate of how much alcohol to buy for your wedding. 

It’s also important to remember that most venues will have their own guidelines about how much alcohol is allowed based on your guest list, so it’s best to check with them beforehand too.

4. Weather

First, if it’s a hot day then people tend to drink more cold beverages such as beer, cocktails or breezers – so make sure you take this into account when stocking up on drinks. 

If it’s a morning wedding or function, then you may need to account for less alcohol consumption than if it were an evening or night event. Different events such as the cocktail, sangeet or reception may also have different drinking demands, so bear this in mind. 

How to Calculate How Much Alcohol to Buy Based on the Number of Guests

Suggested Quantity of Alcohol

Regarding weddings, one of the most important details to consider is the alcohol that will be served. With so many factors to consider, though, determining how much to purchase can be a daunting endeavor. As a starting point, we’ve compiled a general guideline to assist you.

First, let’s discuss beer. On average, each guest can consume around half a beer. Therefore, for a wedding with 50 people, you will require 25 bottles. For a wedding with 100 guests, you should aim for 50 bottles of wine. And if you are hosting a party with 200 attendees, you would need 100 bottles.

Next is the wine. To guarantee that everyone gets a taste, you should have one bottle for every 2.5 guests. Purchase 20 bottles for a wedding with 50 guests, 40 bottles for 100 guests, and 80 bottles for 200 people.

A champagne toast should include one bottle for every six guests. Therefore, you need get 8 bottles for 50 visitors, 16 bottles for 100 guests, and 32 bottles for 200 people.

Guests will likely consume a few alcoholic beverages over the duration of a three-hour open bar. Target one bottle for every five guests. Therefore, you should purchase 20 bottles for a wedding with 50 guests, 20 bottles for 100 guests, and 40 bottles for 200 guests.

Lastly, guests at an after-party will likely consume 1.5 drinks per person per hour. Therefore, be mindful of this when making purchases.

Alcohol Calculator

The easiest way to figure out how much alcohol to buy for your wedding is to use this handy wedding alcohol calculator. Just enter the number of guests you expect and how long the reception will last, and it’ll do the rest.

This calculator can help you figure out how many drinks you’ll need based on the guest count and the length of the reception. Just enter the number of guests you expect and how long the reception will last, and you’re done!

Of course, this is just a general guideline, and you may need to adjust the amount depending on the specific needs of your wedding. If you’re unsure, it’s always better to buy a bit extra and have some leftovers than to run out of alcohol halfway through the reception!

Types of Bars at Weddings

There are four main types of bars at weddings: open, limited, cash, and non-alcoholic.

Open Bar

An open bar, also known as a hosted bar, is the most generous option – guests can order any drink they’d like, and you’ll cover the bill. However, this is also the most expensive option, so be mindful of who may tend to drink too much. 

Limited Bar

A limited bar gives you the opportunity to choose which drinks to serve, such as beer, wine, signature cocktails, and basic mixed drinks. You can also set specific times for these drinks to be served, such as during cocktail hour, meals, toasts, and after-dinner drinks. Having a professional bartender can help save you money and keep guests from over-indulging.

Cash Bar

A cash bar, on the other hand, is not recommended unless there is a compelling reason. It is considered a faux pas to invite guests to your wedding and then ask them to pay for their drinks. 

Non-Alcoholic Bar

A dry wedding, where no alcohol is served, is a great option if you, your families, and the majority of guests don’t drink alcohol. You can serve mocktails, sparkling water, soda, and sparkling cider for toasting.

Ultimately, the type of bar you choose should be in line with your preferences and those of your guests. Make sure to consider all the options and choose what’s right for you. Regardless of the type of bar you have, the most important thing is to have fun and make memories with your loved ones on your special day.

Tips for Stocking the Wedding Bar

We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you stock the bar for your big day. Firstly, you should use the above wedding alcohol calculator to create a shopping list and then adjust it to suit your specific needs and preferences. 

To give your bar a personal touch, consider adding ingredients for signature cocktails, a variety of beer options (such as a lager and a pilsner), and any special spirits you’re planning to serve. To make sure you get the quantities right, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind. 

  • A 750 ml bottle of champagne will typically yield 6 drinks, while a 750 ml bottle of wine is good for 5 drinks (when serving 5 oz portions). 
  • A 750 ml bottle of liquor will give you 14 drinks (based on 1.75 oz measures), and a 1L bottle will provide 19 drinks. 
  • For those who love beer, a 5-gallon keg should be enough for 53 glasses (12 oz portions). 
  • When it comes to cases, you should know that a case of wine contains 12 bottles, while a case of beer comes with 24 bottles or cans. 
  • Finally, it’s important to have a plan in place for getting all of the alcohol and mixers to the wedding venue, as it can be quite a heavy haul. 

With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to having a well-stocked bar that will keep your guests happy and satisfied throughout the night.

How to Save Money When Buying Alcohol for Your Wedding

If you’re looking to save money on alcohol for your wedding, there are a few things you can do. 

  • First, consider buying your alcohol in bulk. Many liquor stores offer discounts for large purchases, so if you know how much you need, you can buy all at once and save some money.
  • Second, think about what types of alcohol you want to serve. Wine and champagne can be expensive, so if you’re on a tight budget, you should stick with beer and liquor.
  • Third, consider making your own signature cocktails. This way, you can control the ingredients and make sure they fit within your budget. Plus, it’s a great way to add a personal touch to your reception!
  • Fourth, If you’re having a daytime wedding, consider serving champagne punch instead of individual glasses of champagne. This can be a cheaper option and will still allow your guests to enjoy a bit of bubbly.
  • Fifth, Ask family and friends to help out by bringing their own favorite bottles of alcohol. This way, you won’t have to buy as much, and you’ll likely end up with a variety of different types of drinks for your guests to enjoy.

By following these tips, you can save money on alcohol for your wedding without sacrificing quality or quantity. So go ahead and stock up—your guests will thank you!


Is It Cheaper to Buy Your Own Alcohol for a Wedding?

Yes, it is generally more cost-effective to purchase your own alcohol for a wedding. Buying in bulk can help you save significantly on the cost of drinks, and it allows you to select the type of beverage that best suit your budget and wedding theme.

How Much Should I Spend on Alcohol for a 150-Person Wedding?

A good rule of thumb is to budget about $1,500 for alcohol for a 150-person wedding. This will give you enough to serve a variety of drinks and have some leftovers in case your guest list is larger than expected.

Who Typically Pays for Alcohol at Wedding Reception?

Typically, the host of the wedding is responsible for providing alcohol at the reception. Depending on your budget and preference, this can be provided as an open bar, cash bar or limited selection of drinks.

What Are the Most Popular Drinks at a Wedding?

At weddings, the most popular drinks typically include beer, wine and spirits such as vodka, gin and whiskey. Additionally, non-alcoholic beverages like soda, juice and mixers are often served.  


With a few simple calculations and careful planning, you can make sure that your wedding guests have the perfect amount of drinks to enjoy. 

Whether it’s wine, beer or cocktails, your guests are guaranteed to be appreciative of your thoughtful approach in pairing the right drinks with their special night. Cheers!

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