Updated: Dec 29, 2020
Whether you are throwing a backyard wedding or are celebrating at a venue that allows you to provide your own alcohol it can be a little daunting trying to figure out how much alcohol to purchase. Not buying enough can cause some unhappy guests during your cocktail hour while buying too much results in wasting money that could’ve been used elsewhere within your wedding budget.
Thankfully we're sharing the tried and true formula that helps calculate the perfect amount of alcohol needed for a standard event because that’s one of the last things you should be stressin’ about.
Below we'll breakdown:
- How many drinks your event needs based on the number of guests and event duration
- The proportion of beer, wine, and spirits to purchase
- The number of servings you’ll get out of each bottle
1. Calculating the Number of Drinks
The golden rule: the average guest will consume two drinks during the first hour and then one drink for each following hour. Let’s say your cocktail hour starts at 5pm and your bar cutoff is at 8pm. That gives you three hours of serving time resulting in the average guest consuming four alcoholic beverages during your wedding. Now multiply four by the number of adult guests (let's say 100) and you have the number of drinks that need to be served: 400.
It’s that easy! And since we’re so nice we put together a table down below for different event durations and guests counts so that you don’t have to do all the math.
2. Beer, Wine, and Spirits Oh My!
When it comes to what types of drinks to serve it is totally based on your preference as well as budget. However, the consumption percentages are different based on serving beer and wine versus serving beer, wine, and liquor, so below we broke it down for you.
Based on our earlier example of 3 hours of serving time for 100 guests that gives us 400 drinks. If you were just serving beer and wine (60/40 ratio), you’d need 240 servings of wine and 160 servings of beer.
3. Servings Per Bottle
Once you decide if you’ll be serving beer and wine or adding liquor into the mix then you’ll need to calculate out how many servings you’ll get out of each bottle/keg. And if you plan on having a champagne/sparkling wine toast you’ll have to add that in separately from your calculated drinks as that is served exclusively during toasts.
So based on our previous example one bottle of wine has roughly 5 glasses worth, therefore it would take 48 bottles to serve everyone. Likewise if you decided to purchase a keg over individual beer cans then one keg has about 165 servings.
And just like that you're all done. No more worrying about running out of drinks or overspending on your wedding budget. Congrats…you did all the math! Now that you’ve gotten all of the hard parts out of the way, the fun part begins: buying all of your drinks for your guests to enjoy. And if you are having trouble figuring out what to purchase for your guests you can always ask your hired bartender for some top picks as well as asking associates at your local beverage store.