Calculating your wedding's alcohol needs
Everyone wants their wedding to be the celebration of the century, and you definitely don’t want to be forever remembered as the wedding that ran out of booze at 6 pm!
But you also don’t want to spend a bunch of money and then have cases + cases left over at the end of the night! The party can only go on so long…
So we, acting as your wedding planning fairy godmothers, have created a handy little way to calculate approximately how much alcohol you should buy for your big day.
Now of course this can vary depending on if your crowd is the “party ‘til the break of dawn” type or if they’re more the “one and done” type.
So with that, break out your handy dandy calculators and let’s start crunching some numbers!
How many drinks total?
We typically recommend that you account for each guest having one drink for every hour the bar is open. So if you have 100 guests + the bar will be open from 5-10 pm, plan on buying 500 servings of alcohol.
Will your best buds from college maybe drink 6 or 7 beers? Maybe... but Auntie Sally probably won’t, so it usually balances out in the long run!
Know your audience
So you know approximately how many servings of alcohol to get, but now we need to figure out how much of each type of alcohol to get. Will your crowd drink mostly beer? Or are you surrounded by wine connoisseurs? Or maybe all of your sorority sisters will avoid all of the above + just drink the cocktails?
There’s fortunately (or unfortunately) not much math behind figuring this out… just determine an approximate percentage.
For the sake of our example, we’re going to go ahead and say that this fake crowd is 65% beer drinkers, 25% liquor drinkers, and 10% wine drinkers.
Math, math, math
Now here comes the really fun part… allllll the fun little math equations. Determine how many servings you’ll need of beer, liquor, and wine.
For our fake wedding, we need approximately 500 servings of alcohol. Therefore:
65% beer drinkers: 65% of 500 = 325 servings of beer
25% liquor drinkers: 25% of 500 = 125 servings of liquor
10% wine drinkers: 10% of 500 = 50 servings of wine
Make the shopping list!
Once you know approximately how many servings of each type of alcohol to get, you can start to create your shopping lists.
Most beer comes in cases of 24; however, this may not be the case if you get craft beer.
With this in mind, we’d get 13 or 14 cases of beer for our fake wedding.
We typically recommend rounding up just to be safe, and you can typically return cases of beer as long as the boxes are unopened!
The amount of liquor you need to purchase depends on which cocktails you will be serving. However, most cocktails have two ounces of liquor. Therefore, our fake wedding would need 250 ounces of whatever liquor the couple planned on using in their signature cocktails.
Note that there's around 34 ounces in a liter- most liquor bottles are labeled per liter, not per ounce. For example, Costco’s liquor bottles are usually 1.5 liters, so it’d be about 51 ounces.
There’s usually five servings of wine per bottle, so just take the total number of servings you need + divide it by five… there you go!
Don’t forget to buy some champagne for your toasts! However, most people won’t drink a full glass of champagne, so we recommend only filling each champagne flute about half full. With this in mind, you can get about six servings out of each champagne bottle. So take your total number of guests + divide by six. Easy enough!
Cocktails are extra
Now if you’re serving cocktails, you obviously need to buy more than just the liquor. Because a cocktail without a mixer is just a shot... which we definitely aren’t against, but it changes the dynamics of the wedding for sure!
So you’ll have to determine how much juice + soda you’ll need as well. Again, not difficult but it does require some math.
For example, if you’re serving mojitos as your signature drink, you’ll need 2 ounces of white rum, 1 ounce of club soda, 1 ounce of lime juice, and some sugar, mint, + ice for each cocktail. Knowing that we need 125 servings for our fake wedding, we’d need a total of 250 ounces of white rum, 125 ounces of club soda, and 125 ounces of lime juice.
And don’t forget about garnishes! Whether it’s adding a few mint leaves or a drink umbrella or maybe even a floating orchid, adding some fun elements to your drinks makes things extra memorable (as long as the drinks aren’t too strong, in which case nothing is too memorable)!
Buy in bulk
When it comes to purchasing alcohol for your big day, Costco or Sam’s Club will be your best friend. Odds are that you’ll be buying fairly large quantities of these drinks, so buying in bulk will save you lots of money. Don’t have a membership? We’d recommend finding a friend who does because trust us, it’s worth it!
Another reason we’re huge supporters of bulk alcohol? It’s usually a whole lot easier to transport! Moving beer and wine and liquor can be heavy + awkward… aka, it’s difficult and not much fun. However, the more contained your alcohol is, the easier it is to move around. Think bigger bottles or cases of bottles. Trust us, you’ll thank us for this later!
And that, friends, is enough math for the day! Happy shopping.