diy wedding bar

How to Calculate Beverages for Your Wedding

Let's Do the Math

With signature drinks and craft cocktails abound, stocking the bar for your wedding may end up on your (or a family member's) to-do list. And, while caterers or bar service providers usually offer assistance with beverage calculations, if you're providing your own wedding beverages, you'll need to know how much of each ingredient/item to purchase. Today, then, we wanted to give you the basic information you'll need to know when calculating beverages for your wedding.

Know the Math

Let's start with a simple equation: If you are planning a wedding for 150 guests who are consuming drinks at a rate of 1 1/2 drinks per hour for 5 hours of service and you have a fully stocked bar with a total of 9 different liquors and 12 bags of ice, how many… Just kidding! (Are you relieved?) The formula you should use to calculate the total number of drinks to be served at a wedding is:

Number of Guests  x  1.5  x  Hours of Service = Total Number of Drinks

Don’t feel like breaking out college-ruled paper and a pencil? BevMo has a great beverage calculator.

champagne glasses

Know What You Need

After you have calculated the total number of beverages you are going need, it’s time to decide what you're going to serve. Regardless of whether your budget accommodates well or top-shelf bottles, one of the most important factors in hosting a successful bar is knowing what (and how much) your guests like to drink! Are they heavy drinkers? Do they love a great glass of red wine? Are they going to drink Moscow Mules and craft cocktails until they are sideways, or are they the type of people who will do domestic beers all night long?

As you sit down to figure out how many bottles of each spirit you need, it's also helpful to know how many servings of alcohol per bottle you get. The breakdown of servings per bottle for the big players is:

  • 4 servings per bottle of wine
  • 165 servings per keg of beer
  • 18 servings per bottle of liquor

Pro Tip: For the champagne toast, budget 1 bottle for every 8 guests and ask the catering staff to pour 1/3 to 1/2 glasses since most guests will take an obligatory sip and return to whatever it is they are drinking.

Make adjustments to your shopping list to ensure that the bar doesn’t run out of the drink of the night, but here are the main spirits you need to have on hand to stock a basic full bar:

  • gin
  • vodka
  • rum
  • tequila
  • whiskey
  • beer
  • wine
  • champagne

And, because you aren’t planning on serving the guests shots all night (or are you?), download our list of mixers, which you’ll need to stock up on as well.

wedding toast
Photo courtesy of Shelby Rae Photographs

Know the Variables

There are a few more things to consider before you start making purchases. There are a lot of variables that can affect your final calculations, so we wanted to give you some food for thought:

  • People will pour heavily at self-service bars. If you are hosting one, plan to order more to make sure you are covered
  • People tend to drink less the earlier in the day the wedding is, as well as on weekdays and Sundays
  • Consider the weather. If it’s especially hot out, you can be sure your guests are going to wants lots of cool drinks (and lots of water for that matter!)
  • Know the return policies of the stores you are purchasing from, especially if you're on a tight budget and want to return any unopened bottles
  • And lastly, ALWAYS BUY EXTRA ICE.



Hero Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Yale Photography
Styling by Ro & Co. Events
Cocktails by Redbird

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