One of the questions we get asked most frequently by clients, is how much beer, wine and liquor do I need for my wedding? Honestly, it’s really hard to determine the exact amount because I’m sure you don’t know the drinking habits of each of your guests inside and out. But, there’s a general formula we always use…

Plan two drinks per hour per guest for the first two hours and one drink per hour per guest for every hour after that. What that equates to with a four hour reception is six drinks per guest.

This formula is a great, easy way to determine how much you should buy. It does estimate on the high side though. By using it, we can almost guarantee you won’t run out of alcohol. If you don’t have a heavy drinking crowd, then I would estimate one drink per hour per guest.

Now that you know the formula, you can simply multiply the total number of drinks needed per guest by the total number of guests coming. If you want to be more precise though, look through your guest list and remove guests who don’t drink or are underage from the equation. Once you have the total number of drinks needed, it’s time to figure out how many bottles of each you need.

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If you’re just doing beer and wine, I would split the total number of drinks in half. Using 100 guests, based on the formula above you will need 600 drinks. If you go 50/50, that’s 300 bottles of beer and 300 glasses of wine. Of course, if you know your crowd leans one way or the other, you’ll want to adjust. From there it’s just a matter of breaking it down.

We average that a bottle of wine has 4 glasses in it so you’ll need 75 bottles or roughly 6 cases. I always suggest splitting that pretty evenly between red and white unless you know your crowd favors one. In terms of types of wine, if you’re only doing one red and one white then I suggest a pinot grigio and a pinot noir. Both are pretty easy drinkers and will appeal to most guests. If doing two of each, I suggest chardonnay and pinot grigio for your whites and cabernet and pinot noir for your reds.

As for beer, 300 bottles is equal to roughly 12 cases (24 beers per case). If you’ve got a pretty basic crowd, stick to Bud Light and Yuengling. If you’re into craft, I love the idea of doing craft options that are seasonally and food appropriate.

Now that we’ve covered beer and wine, what do you do if you’re having a full bar? I always suggest talking to your bartender here because liquor is a whole other beast. But, here’s my thought. A lot of people don’t order liquor when out because they know they have to get home. I would buy liquor on top of what was just allocated for beer and wine. This way you’re prepared in case everyone sticks to beer and wine primarily.

Again, the formula above is a great basic estimator. It almost guarantees you won’t run out of alcohol before the night is over. Also know that most places will allow you to return unopened, non chilled bottles of wine and cases of beer. Just check with your retailer before purchasing if this is something you might do.

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Are you doing beer and wine only at your wedding or are you having a full bar? Comment below and let us know.