How Much Alcohol Do I Need for a Bar at a Wedding Reception?

Planning a wedding is complicated enough without taking the bar into account. Though it might seem impossible to figure out just how much alcohol you’ll need. There are a few ways to plan a successful wedding reception bar!

Don’t get stuck overspending or prematurely running out of booze on the big day. When you’re looking to stock the bar at a wedding reception, there’s a lot of things to keep in mind. Today, we’ll explore some factors that can affect how your bar is run and what you’ll need.

Things to Consider When Stocking the Bar at a Wedding Reception

The first thing to do is decide whether or not your wedding venue will allow you to stock the bar with your own beverages (i.e., BYOB), rather than paying an expensive tab for drinks provided by the venue or caterer.

Couples can save significantly by purchasing their own drinks. Plus, this gives you complete freedom over what kind of alcohol is served, right down to the brand name!

You should also decide whether you’ll be providing an open bar for your guests. If so, think through whether you want your bar to be fully stocked. Meaning all types of alcohol or if you’ll only be serving beer and wine.

As you can probably guess, liquor expenses tend to rack up much faster than beer and wine. Some couples who want to offer a liquor option can feature a single signature cocktail. This would be in addition to beer and wine options. It is always a great way to offer a little bit of everything without breaking the bank.

Of course, consider the season when crafting the signature drink. For example, if you’re having a summer wedding, you may want to serve something like summer crushes.

Additionally, it’s helpful when you know your crowd. For example, do you think your wedding guests are mostly light, moderate, or heavy drinkers? Whatever you think you need, make sure to overstock just a bit so you know you won’t run out.

It’s common for light or moderate drinkers to throw caution to the wind at a wedding, so when making your calculations, make sure to keep that in mind.

Calculating How Much Alcohol You’ll Need

We get it—wedding planning is overwhelming! Maybe you’d rather just be told how much alcohol to buy than spend hours trying to figure it out for yourself. But as you get ready to stock the bar at a wedding reception, try using this simple open bar calculation to determine what you’ll need to keep your guests happy and your wedding reception going smoothly. You can also try out this BevMo Drink Calculator!

Determine how many guests you’ll have at the reception, and plan for each guest to have two drinks during the reception’s first hour and one drink during each subsequent hour until the bar closes.

Though your reception might be different, most wedding receptions are around five hours total when you account for a cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing.

With all of this time in mind, assume that most of your guests will consume about six drinks during the night. With this in mind, calculate the serving sizes of the types of alcohol you’ll be serving (beer, wine, liquor, or champagne).

For example, you may provide more wine than beer or liquor, but there should still be enough alcohol total to provide for the six-drink average per person.

Need the Perfect Selection for a Bar at a Wedding Reception?

Your Annapolis, MD, event isn’t complete without craft beer, wine, and liquor from Festival Wine and Spirits. Get your guests ready to kick up their heels for your big day with our incredible selection of delicious drinks!