Your Fabulous Wednesday Blog Picture

How Much Alcohol Do We Need To Buy?


In last week’s blog I talked about setting up your own DIY bar for your wedding.  Today I’m going to give you some guidance on how much alcohol you need to buy.How Much Alcohol Should You Buy For Your Wedding

If you’re organising the drinks for your wedding then you’re probably wondering how on earth to work out how much you need to buy.

You really don’t want the bar to run dry but you also don’t want to be left with gallons of stuff that you have to drink yourself!  Or maybe you actually quite like the sound of this? 😃

I have been at weddings where I had to run out to Tesco to buy more wine – not ideal but doable as I was obviously sober and safe to drive.  But if you haven’t got anyone who can do this, you’re a bit stuck.

So here are some guidelines for working out what you need to buy.


Beer bottles on a tray


Let’s start with some straightforward quantity info:


·     A 75cl bottle of wine will provide 6 glasses of wine (125ml) or 3 250ml glasses

·    One bottle of champagne or prosecco will fill 6 flutes

·    A litre bottle of spirits will provide 40 x 25ml measures (this is a standard pub measure. If you’re serving double measures then you’ll just get 20 measures from that bottle)

·   For beer, if you choose kegs,  then a standard 11 gallon keg holds 88 pints.  Alternatively you can buy individual bottles or cans for ease of serving.

As a general guide, wine tends to be the more popular choice, followed by beer/lager and then spirits.  But bear in mind your guests and the time of year.

If you know that a large portion of your guests are heavy beer drinkers for example, then factor that into your numbers.

So now let’s think about what you need to serve at the various stages of your wedding day.


Drinks Reception

As a guide, allow 2 drinks per guest for the first hour of the drinks reception.  The first one will go down quickly!  After that allow one drink per hour.

So a typical 2 hour drinks reception will require 3 drinks per guest.

Typically, most couples serve prosecco or champagne at their drinks reception along with a light cocktail such as Pimms and Lemonade.  If you’re having a DIY bar, you need something fairly straightforward that can be pre mixed.

If you opt for Pimms, it’s usually a 50ml measure so a litre bottle will give you 20 portions.  And don’t forget the lemonade to mix it with!

I would work on the assumption that half your guests will choose fizz and half will choose the cocktail.

You can offer lager/beer as well at the drinks reception.  Whilst they don’t generally look as nice as glasses of fizz, they can be served in big ice buckets.  You know your guests – if there are some who won’t drink fizz, then make sure you have some alternatives for them.

Glasses Set Up for Drinks Reception


Soft Drinks

You should have a good supply of soft drinks for the drinks reception too and for throughout the day.

Factor in how many children you have attending, do you have any guests who will driving, any pregnant guests and people who you know will have one or two drinks and that’s it.

A 2 litre bottle of soft drink will provide 20 x 100ml measures.

You’ll also need mixers for spirits like tonic, coke, lemonade.  It’s a good idea to have some fruit juices available too.  There are lots of really good non alcoholic drinks available now too, from beers to gins so you might want to consider some of these.  There’s nothing worse than only having the choice of water or water!


Wedding Breakfast

During your meal, it’s usual to have wine on the tables.  As a general rule, white and red wine will a fairly even split (again bear in mind your guests preferences though.)

The general guide here is to supply half a bottle of wine per guest. Some will drink more than that but there will be some guests who only drink one glass.

You’ll also need to have bottled water on the tables.  A litre bottle will provide around 4 glasses, assume one glass per guest.  And provide a mix of still and sparkling water.



It’s traditional to supply a glass of fizz for the toasts during the speeches.  You should provide one glass per guest.  Remember, you’ll get 6 flutes from one bottle.

Men raising a toast

Evening Bar

Now this is much more difficult.  Guests will generally expect more options to be available in the evening.

Many couples who do a DIY bar in the day will still book a mobile bar for the evening to avoid the challenges of this.  This option will also allow you to change to a cash bar for the evening to save some budget.

But if you’re going DIY the whole way then some general principles to follow:

Assume that guests will have 6-8 drinks each during a 4 hour party. (there’ll be variations so this should balance it out)

Again factor in how many non drinkers you have.

You’ll need to provide white, red and sparkling wine as well as lager and beer as a minimum.

If you’re going with beer and wine only, then assume 50% of guests will have beer and 50% will have wine.

So as guide, if you have 100 guests, you will need around 50 bottles of wine (mix of red and white.)  Plus around 300 pints/bottles of lager, beer and cider.

However if you want to provide a fuller bar, you’re going to need spirits and mixers too.     You can’t possibly provide all the spirits you would find at a bar but Vodka, Gin, Whiskey are generally the most popular.

Remember a litre bottle of spirits will provide you with 40 x 25ml measures.

You could consider doing a little survey amongst your guests before the day so you know which spirits to buy.  Or let them know it’s a DIY bar and to bring a bottle if they want something specific.


Drinks Chilling In A Cooler


Other things to consider

·       Over order by 10-15% to ensure you have some contingency. Nothing worse than running out of alcohol at a wedding!

·       Remember to cater for the non drinkers. Don’t just force them to drink water all day!

·       Wherever you can, buy drinks on a sale or return basis. This will allow you to take back any unopened boxes.

·       Don’t forget ice.

·       Majestic Wine offers free glass hire and has large cooler buckets too.  They also have a handy drinks calculator on their site.

And make sure you read last week’s blog for loads more advice about setting up your own DIY bar.

If you’re considering this type of set up for your wedding, you might want to think about getting some help for your set up and to ensure your day runs to plan.  My wedding day management service would work really well for you, you can read more here or get in touch to chat about how I could help you.


Louise Wearmouth, Founder of Your Fabulous Wedding