By: Lydia Mattern
If you plan on serving alcoholic beverages at your wedding, you are probably wondering how much booze you actually need to buy.
While there are some variables--guests tend to drink more wine than beer in the winter months and each person has their own unique drinking habits--at Epic Thyme, we have planned numerous weddings and know the industry average for alcoholic drinks consumed at a wedding and can help you plan your wedding bar.
Determine the right amount of booze to have at your wedding using this complete wedding bar planning guide.
The General Rule of Thumb for Wedding Booze
The best place to start when planning the amount of booze for your wedding is “one drink per guest per hour” with two drinks per person for the cocktail hour. So, if you have 100 guests for five hours, drinking two drinks during the cocktail hour and one drink every hour thereafter, that would be 600 drinks total for the night. This does not include champagne for toasts, which is usually added in addition to your other alcoholic beverage options.
On average, depending on the type of beverage options you provide, a standard guest may have the following:
2 cocktails during the hour cocktail reception;
2 glasses of wine during dinner; and
1-2 cocktails after dinner while they are dancing and enjoying the celebration.
While this will give you a general idea, there are other questions to consider:
What type of drinks should you offer?
What is the best number of drink options? (Hint: less is more.)
How much of each type of drink is enough?
What you serve is up to you. You know your guests well--and are familiar with their drink type and consumption rate--so you can pick the option that works best for your and your guests from these popular wedding situations.
1. Bar with Beer and Wine
Many couples choose to opt out of having hard liquor or spirits at their wedding and instead offer beer and wine to their guests. In this case, you will want to plan to offer a 50/50 split.
50% Beer and 50% Wine
To provide variety, you can offer 2-4 types of beer and up to four wine options. Depending on the weather, you may choose to have more white wines available during the warmer months and more red wines available during a fall or winter wedding.
2. Full Bar with Beer, Wine, and Liquor
If you want a full bar at your wedding that serves beer and wine, as well as liquor and spirits, the split looks a little different.
20% Beer, 15% Wine, 65% Spirits/Liquor
Unless you know your guests are big wine and beer drinkers, it is safe to assume that when there is liquor on hand the consumption of beer and wine go down significantly.
If you know your guests are heavy beer and wine drinkers, you can opt for a more evenly split bar: 35% Beer, 35% Wine, 30% Spirits/Liquor.
3. Bar with Beer, Wine, and Signature Drinks for Cocktail Hour Only
If you only plan to offer alcoholic beverages to your guests during the cocktail hour, you would follow the split mentioned above, as liquor will likely be the most popular option.
20% Beer, 15% Wine, 65% Spirits/Liquor
However, if you plan to have only sweet signature drinks for cocktail hour, you may choose to do a more even split: 35% Beer, 25% Wine, 40% Spirits/Liquor. This provides variety for those who would rather sip on a beer over a sugary and sweet cocktail drink.
Now That You Know Percentages, Let’s Talk Numbers
Once you’ve chosen your bar type (beer and wine, full bar, or cocktail hour only) and determined the best split for your guests, it’s time to figure out how much of each type of alcohol you actually need. There is a bit of math involved, but we can help with that.
For large quantities of beer, you will want to purchase kegs. This makes serving the beer super simple.
One keg of beer holds around 120 glasses of 16 oz servings of beer.
A standard wine bottle (750ml) holds about four glasses of wine. Sparkling wine holds five full glasses. And champagne bottles hold six glasses per bottle.
You are able to make about 20 drinks per liter of liquor.
Taking these numbers into consideration, the amount of alcohol needed works out like this:
If you have a 100 person guest list over 5 hours, you will budget for them to consume 600 drinks total. Here’s what that looks like broken down into some of the splits mentioned above:
Beer and Wine: 50/50
300 beer = 2 ½-3 kegs of beer
300 wine = 75 bottles of wine
Beer, Wine, and Liquor: 20/15/65
120 beer = 1-1 ½ keg(s) of beer
90 wine = 23 bottles of wine
390 liquor = 20 bottles of liquor
We know there are a lot of numbers here. If you are ready to plan your wedding bar and budget the right amount of alcohol for your specific guest list, contact Epic Thyme today. We will do the math so you don’t have to. Cheers to that!
How to Prepare a Perfect "Full Bar" for Your Guests
When you opt to have a “full bar” at your wedding, you don’t need to offer every single type of liquor that your guests could possibly think of. A standard full bar at a wedding consists of around 10 drinks. By choosing a variety of liquors and drink options, you can plan for enough drinks that everyone finds something they like, but not too many drinks that the options are overwhelming. This will also save you a lot of money while budgeting for the types of alcohol you need to purchase.
With 10 drinks, as well as beer and wine available, you give off the impression of a full bar without having to actually prepare a full bar.
Why to Have a Bartender (and how to budget for one)
At Epic Thyme, we do not offer self-served bars at weddings. From experience, we have found this is the best way to manage the drinks being served at your wedding. That way, you don’t have to worry about who is drinking what and if everyone is enjoying their beverages. There is an experienced, friendly bartender who is taking care of all the details for you. He or she will ensure the wedding bar doesn’t get out of hand.
The cost for wedding bartending service can vary depending on the location of your wedding. In California, the average cost of a bartender is $25-50 per hour plus a tip of 15-20% of the service fee. To best serve your guests, you should plan to hire one bartender for every 50 guests at your wedding.
We have helped coordinate bars at weddings and have phenomenal bartenders available to serve at your California wedding--find out more now.
Get Your Wedding Booze Quote at Epic Thyme
Are you ready to jump into wedding planning and finalize your booze count for your wedding? We are here to help!
We would love to chat with you about the size of your wedding and wedding guests to help you determine exactly how many drinks you need to keep your guests enjoying the celebration all night long.
Coordinating your wedding bar is included in our wedding planning services. Contact us today to get your wedding bar quote.