We’re showing you the best wedding alcohol calculator to tell you exactly how much you need to buy for your reception. Read on for more + subscribe for the latest to your inbox.
Lately, we’ve been chatting about how much wine you need for weddings and where to buy wine in bulk. Since most weddings offer a variety of wine, beer, and spirits, it’s a good idea to figure out exactly how much wedding alcohol you need to buy.
Today we’re showing you the best wedding alcohol calculator to do it! In this post, we calculate EXACTLY how much wedding alcohol you need for your reception based on 100, 150, or 200 guests and a typical duration of 4 to 5 hours. You want to keep drinks flowing but you also don’t want to overbuy (and overspend). Here’s how to avoid making a mistake at your bar with these clever tips.
How Much Alcohol to Buy for a Wedding
First things first: make sure you have a plan in place of how you’ll serve guests and how you’ll keep drinks cold.
Keep Drinks Cold
If your wedding is in the summer and it’s humid or hot, make sure you have plenty of ice and stainless steel beverage tubs available. You can get the best tubs for your beverages at Chilled Designs.
Lots of Ice
Don’t skimp on ice! You’ll want lots of it.
Hire a Bartender
And finally, hire a bartender! It’s well worth the money. You may even need two, depending on the number of guests. As a rule of thumb, you should have 1 bartender for every 50 guests. Some state 1 bartender for 100 guests, but I feel like that makes the line too long.
You want guests to enjoy themselves, not stand in a line all night. Besides, you need them out on the dance floor! :)
How Much to Spend on Wedding Alcohol
An open bar will account for roughly 10% to 15% of your wedding budget.
One of the biggest questions couples ask when sourcing their own drinks is: how do you figure out how much alcohol you need? That’s easy!
The total number is based on two main components:
The Duration of the Party
How long is the reception?
Take a look at your guest list and the total head count. If you’re immediately wondering how much alcohol do you need for a 200 person wedding, realize that not every person will RSVP with a “yes” and, furthermore, not every guest will drink alcohol. Plus, guests drink different amounts.
How do you figure out how much alcohol to buy for a wedding?
1. Estimate one beverage per guest per hour.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to estimate one beverage per hour per guest for the evening. This means for a 5 hour reception, you’ll estimate 5 drinks per person. This is the average and, of course, many guests will drink fewer (and some, more) than this number, but it usually balances itself out.
2. Increase or decrease this amount accordingly.
You know your group best so feel free to increase or decrease that number accordingly.
You will want to estimate how many guests in total will be drinking, and then move on to the next step with specific numbers based on 100 guests, 150 guests, and a 200 person wedding.
3. Decide what kind of bar you want to have.
Variety is the spice of life. Make sure you offer a few varieties, but also keep your budget in check. Decide if you want a beer and wine menu or beer, wine, and spirits.
Don’t forget non-alcoholic beverages, too, including soda (pop!) and plenty of water.
Now, let’s crunch those numbers. Here’s how to calculate how much to buy.
How Many Drinks You Need: Guest Number x Hours = Total # of Drinks
• 100 Guests x 5-Hour Reception = 500 Drinks
• 150 Guests x 5-Hour Reception = 750 Drinks
• 200 Guests x 5-Hour Reception = 1,000 Drinks
• 250 Guests x 5-Hour Reception = 1,250 Drinks
How many glasses of wine are in a bottle?
There are typically 5 glasses of wine in one bottle.
How many beers in a keg?
Buying a keg for your wedding? Here’s how many standard 12 oz bottles of beer are in three different keg sizes.
As a standard rule at most venues, they’ll have one keg per 100 guests. Then, they’ll have a bit left over just in case.
For 100 guests, you’ll need 1 full keg of beer.
For 200 guests, you’ll need 2 full kegs of beer.
NOTE: If your guests aren’t much for beer drinkers, here are smaller sized kegs and exactly how many bottles of beer are in a keg of 1/2 barrel, 1/4 barrel, and 1/6 barrel sizes.
1/2 barrel of a keg = 165 bottles of beer (12fl standard bottle)
1/4 barrel = 83 bottles of beer
1/6 barrel = 55 bottles of beer
Wedding Alcohol Calculator
Wine and Beer Wedding Bar
You’ll typically serve 75% wine and 25% beer.
150 Guests: 5-hour reception, wine, beer and spirits
If you’re adding cocktails, estimate 50% wine, 25% beer, and 25% spirits.
For the best wedding alcohol calculator, we turned to the pros at Total Wine where they lay it all out here. Remember, this is an estimate and your party may require fewer or greater than these averages.
They have an awesome alcohol spreadsheet you can download and print here for FREE for even more specifics. I think it is the best wedding alcohol calculator I’ve ever used! It seems to be spot on for every wedding or party, which is great when you don’t want to buy too much (or run out!)
How much alcohol do you need for 100 guests?
100 Guests | 3-4 Hours
50 Bottles of Wine
6 Bottles of Spirits
150 Bottles of Beer
100 Guests | 5 Hours+
60 Bottles of Wine
8 Bottles of Spirits
180 Bottles of Beer
How much alcohol for a wedding of 150?
150 Guests | 3-4 Hours
75 Bottles of Wine
8 Bottles of Spirits
225 Bottles of Beer
150 Guests | 5 Hours+
90 Bottles of Wine
10 Bottles of Spirits
270 Bottles of Beer
How much alcohol do you buy for a 200 person wedding?
200 Guests | 3-4 Hours
100 Bottles of Wine
10 Bottles of Spirits
300 Bottles of Beer
200 Guests | 5 Hours+
120 Bottles of Wine
12 Bottles of Spirits
360 Bottles of Beer
Now that you know exactly how much alcohol to buy for your wedding, let’s move on to where to get it. You can buy alcohol in bulk for your wedding from here! Let’s discuss how it works.
Buying Alcohol in Bulk for Your Wedding
Where do you buy alcohol in bulk for wedding? The best place to buy alcohol in person or online is Total Wine & More. They offer wine (and more, ha!) They have a wide variety, a great selection, and they really know their brands. They can recommend how much alcohol to buy based on how many guests you have in attendance, suggest particular wine pairings with your menu, and more.
It’s a great site: click here to check it out.
You can schedule a consultation to meet with them and discuss your party plans, or just go ahead and start ordering what you need. You can get it delivered in most places or do local pickup.
You can shop by price, read reviews, get suggestions on cocktails to serve, and more. Get the guide.
PRO TIP: In select areas (not all, read the fine print first!) you can return unopened alcohol if you buy from here. This way, if you buy too much, you may be able to get a portion of your money back. What a great service!
What are the most popular mixed drinks at receptions?
Based on what we’ve read, wedding guests tend to order these libations at the bar the most frequently:
• Gin and Tonic
• Rum and Coke
• Pina Colada
• Whiskey on the Rocks
How much of the wedding budget does an open bar cost?
Roughly 10% to 15% of your budget goes to an open bar.
How much do you tip the bartender at a wedding?
The standard rate of tipping a wedding bartender is 20% of the final bar bill.
And there you have it! We’ve answered how much alcohol to buy for a wedding, how to keep it cold, how to calculate the number of drinks per guest, how many bottles of wine, liquor, and beer you need, and so much more. I hope this helps to answer any questions you have!
If you’re still stumped, leave a comment below and we’ll swoop in to help.