Wedding Alcohol Calculator

How much alcohol should you have for your wedding?
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How many bottles of beer, wine and liquor do you need for your nuptials? Use this handy tool for a quick answer.

And that's it! Pretty simple, but how do you drive down the overall cost?

You can definitely plan a memorable celebration without breaking the bank. First, let's take a look at the different factors that go into a wedding alcohol budget.

How to calculate alcohol for a wedding

You need to consider four things:

  1. Who's drinking: How many drinkers vs non-drinkers are attending?

  2. Alcohol types: Beer, wine, liquor and/or champagne

  3. Party duration: Most weddings are 4-5 hours long, and people typically have 1-2 drinks per hour.

  4. Alcohol prices:: A nice bottle of Dom Perignon will set you back more than Kirkland Signature Prosecco.

Once you figure out the number of bottles and the price per alcohol, you'll have a good idea of your alcohol budget.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind as you plan:

How many drinks in a bottle?
  • One bottle of champagne fills six to eight glasses
  • One bottle of wine fills five glasses
  • One liter bottle of liquor makes ~18 drinks

How many bottles in a case?

  • One case of wine has 12 bottles
  • One case of beer has 24 bottles or cans

There's so much that goes into entertaining guests for a wedding. To save time, you can hire a professional beverage service (hello, open bar!). To save money, go DIY.

Before you decide, find out if stocking your own wedding bar is worth it below.

Is it cheaper to buy your own alcohol for a wedding?

It's more work but you'll generally save money by buying your own alcohol. There are four main types of wedding bars:

  1. Open: The hosts cover the entire bill so guests don't pay
  2. Limited: Hosts cover the cost but offer fewer options
  3. Cash: Guests pay for their own drinks
  4. Non-alcoholic: Also called a "dry bar" - only non-alcholic drinks are served

If you decide to cover alcohol costs for your guests, most venues and caterers will charge in one of three ways:

  1. Per person - One fee per head for unlimited alcohol
  2. Per consumption - Charges per drink ordered
  3. DIY Bar - You supply the alcohol and may hire bartenders for serving

The right type of bar depends on you and your guests' preferences. Open bars are great for sipping on cocktails, while limited bars are convenient for beer or wine.

Limited bars set specific consumption times, like cocktail hours and toasts. People love open bars but it's also the most expensive. Since they get free drinks for the whole party, be prepared to see folks go all out.

Wedding Alcohol for 50+ Guests

If you're set on an open bar, keep in mind how much alcohol you need. Here's a general rule of thumb for a 4+ hour reception with moderate drinkers.

50 guests

  • 30 bottles of wine
  • 90 bottles of beer
  • 4 bottles of liquor/spirits

100 guests

  • 60 bottles of wine
  • 180 bottles of beer
  • 8 bottles of liquor/spirits

150 guests

  • 90 bottles of wine
  • 270 bottles of beer
  • 10 bottles of liquor/spirits

As you're tallying up the alcohol budget, you may feel tempted to opt for a cash bar, which requires guests to pay for their own drinks. Sure, it's the cheapest option, but it's also the most controversial. Skip it!

But if you, your families or your guests don't drink alcohol, you may not even need to offer booze at all. If this is the case, consider a dry wedding.

Non-alcoholic drink calculator
For a 4 hour wedding, you need at least 1-2 waters and 3-4 non-water drinks (juice, ice tea, soda etc.) per guest. So, you should get roughly 1000 non-alcoholic drinks for 200 guests.

But if you decide to supply your own alcohol, be sure to ask the venue for potential corkage fees. If so, don't forget to factor that into your total alcohol budget.

Wedding bar shopping list

Picking up liquor for the shindig? Here's a general list of what you'll need for about 50 people. (Adjust the math accordingly for your guestlist.)

Alcohol, beer and wine

  • Beer: 2-3 cases
  • Whiskey: 1/2 liter
  • Bourbon: 1/2 liter
  • Gin: 1-2 liters
  • Scotch: 1 liter
  • Rum: 1 liter
  • Vodka: 3 liters
  • Tequila: 1/2 liter
  • Champagne: 1 case
  • Red wine: 1 case

Mixers

  • Tonic: 1/2 case
  • Club soda: 1/2 case
  • Cranberry juice: 1 gallon
  • Orange juice: 1/2 gallon
  • Grapefruit juice: 1/2 gallon
  • Ginger ale: 1 case
  • Triple sec: 1 liter
  • Lime juice: 1/2 gallon
  • Sparking water: 1 case
  • Bottled water: 2 cases
  • Diet coke: 1 case
  • Coke: 1 case

For cheap booze, go to Costco. They have an extensive wine and beer selection. And many big brands (such as Alexander Murray scotch and Gordon Biersch) are behind Kirkland Signature alcohol products.

10 ways to save on your wedding reception

Before you get the party started, take a look at these money-saving tips:

  1. Check out less traditional venues - Instead of a banquet hall, research museums, city parks, libraries, gardens and even boats for your special day.

  2. Rent the dress - Don't feel pressured to buy your wedding dress. Platforms like Rent the Runway can get you an elegant wedding dress for less.

    Don't forget your bridesmaids! Our guide reviews the best places to buy bridesmaid dresses.

  3. Choose an "off-season" wedding date - Most venues will shave a pretty penny off the regular rental fee for nuptials during November to March.

  4. Bye, Saturday - Saturday is by far the most expensive day to host a wedding reception. Consider a Sunday brunch party to save serious cash. Also, ask your desired venue about any unbooked dates.

  5. Photograph natural beauty - Beach or outdoor celebrations generally require less decor - and the views still pack a punch.

  6. Stick with one venue - You won't need to deal with the extra expense of transporting people from Point A to Point B.

  7. Look for "all-inclusive" bundles - Some venues offer on-site coordination, catering, alcohol, staff, cake and more. You get the event space and everything else all in one place.

  8. Choose "in season" flowers and food - Pick locally grown flowers and food items when they're in peak supply. For example, lilacs tend to bloom in the spring and summer months.

  9. Whittle down the guest list - Don't feel obligated to invite Uncle Joel (whom you've only met twice). Just focus on the folks who know you and your fiance well. It'll be a much more intimate and fun affair.

  10. Limit plus-ones - Speaking of guests, you can be selective about plus-ones for your guests. This means only offering plus-ones for couples who are married, engaged or in a serious relationship.

Cheers!

Planning a wedding can get overwhelming but have no fear. Being budget-friendly doesn't mean you have to do it all by yourself.

Enlist retired aunts, talented younger cousins and ride-or-die BFFs for their help. Chances are, they'll want to contribute to your special day. Their feedback and creative talents can keep some of the stress off your shoulders.

Remember: The most important thing is you and your special person spending the rest of your lives together. And well, the rest is just icing on the cake.

Amber Kong is a content and creative at CreditDonkey, a diamond jeweler comparison and reviews website. Write to Amber Kong at amber.kong@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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