How Much Alcohol Do I Need For My Wedding


Bride on a chair in front of a converted horse box bar | Essex Wedding Planner

For anyone who is a regular visitor to my blog you will know that I have previously shared my tips on  how to successfully run a DIY bar on your wedding day, which has been particularly helpful to couples planning their wedding within a marquee or a dry hire venue.

Today I am very excited to be sharing further guidance & tips for your wedding day bar, but this time I am discussing all things alcohol. When you should offer it to your guests and how much you are likely to require.

No couple wants their bar to run dry half way through the evening, but equally they do not want to be left with copious amounts of surplus alcohol after their wedding. Sadly, there is no exact formula to follow, but there are definitely a few helpful pointers and considerations which will help ensure your wedding bar is a huge success.

For me the best place to start is with your guest list. No-one knows your guests better than you. So grab yourselves a glass of wine and dedicate an evening to working through your RSVP’s, making note of anyone who you are expecting not to drink alcohol. This would normally be pregnant women, nursing mothers, guests with very young children, (who are also attending the wedding), any guests that you know to be teetotal and obviously children. This will then give you a clearer idea of how many guests will be drinking alcohol throughout your wedding day.

If you are providing transport for your guests then you could also use the passenger list as additional guidance as to who will be drinking alcohol, (generally guests who accept the offer of guest transport will be consuming alcohol throughout your wedding day).

Simple quantity information

In order to help you establish how much alcohol you should purchase, lets start with the maths:

  • 1 75cl bottle of wine will provide 6 x 125ml glasses or 3 x 250ml glasses
  • 1 bottle of prosecco or champagne will fill 6 x flutes
  • 1 litre bottle of Pimms will provide 20 x 50ml measures (which should be mixed with 100ml lemonade)
  • 1 litre bottle of spirit will provide 40 x 25ml measures (a standard pub measure)

Wedding Bar Set Up | Essex Wedding Planner

When & how much

Assuming you are following a traditional wedding day structure, I would normally expect each guest to require the following:

  • Three beverages throughout a canapé reception lasting an hour and a half
  • Half a bottle of wine throughout wedding breakfast service (normally 2 hours)
  • One glass of fizz for speeches
  • Six – eight beverages throughout the evening reception (normally 4 hours)

Beverages to offer during a canapé reception

As mentioned above your canapé reception will last around one and a half hours, with most couples choosing to offer their guests prosecco or champagne as well as a light refreshing cocktail such as Pimm’s. I would normally work on the basis that half your guests will want Pimm’s with the other half choosing fizz. Although you should bear in mind the time of year, as in my experience on a hot summer’s day Pimm’s is often the more popular choice.

You shouldn’t forget your non drinking guests throughout your canapé reception. Consider offering them refreshing options such as elderflower fizz or pink lemonade, as well as still and sparkling water. These options are a great alternative to standard orange juice which can be somewhat limiting.

Some couples will also choose to offer guests bottled beer/lager throughout their canapé reception. If this is something you are considering then refer back to your guest list and try to establish which guests would prefer this option. This will allow you to amend your quantities of fizz and pimms accordingly.

Wedding cake with bouquet & bottle of fizz | Essex Wedding Planner

Beverages to offer during wedding breakfast & speeches

Traditionally guests would be offered wine throughout your wedding breakfast. It can be tricky to establish the red and white split, so most couples go for 50/50. However, you can look to your menu for inspiration and also your guests preferences, (if you know which wine your guests prefer). You should also consider purchasing a small amount of rose wine just incase this is requested by any of your guests.

Guests will also require water throughout their meal, so ensure that there is still and sparkling options available for guests throughout dinner service.

It is perfectly acceptable to continue offering the same selection of non alcoholic beverages as was available throughout your canapé reception to guests that have chosen not to drink alcohol. Just remember to include the wedding breakfast allocation when deciding how much to buy to ensure there is enough to last into the evening.

Finally, if you are including speeches within your wedding day then guests will each require a glass of bubbles for the toasts.

Evening reception

This is where it becomes tricky as it is near on impossible to predict what guests will choose to drink as well as how many drinks they will require. However, as mentioned above as a general guide I would expect each guest to require 6-8 drinks throughout a four hour evening reception.

When choosing the beverages to offer your guests I always suggest offering a good selection whilst keeping it simple. It just isn’t practical to try and offer a fully stocked bar including each and every spirit, so I suggest the following as a good starting point

  • Wine
  • Beer/lager
  • Prosecco/champagne
  •  Vodka
  • Gin
  • Whisky
  • Rum
  • Coke
  • Lemonade
  • Soda water
  • Tonic
  • Fruit juices (such as pineapple & orange)
  • Water

As previously mentioned nobody knows your guests like you, so if there is a particular spirit that you know a number of your guests enjoy, or some of your guests prefer cider to beer then add it to your shopping list.

I always suggest over ordering by 10-15% to allow for any miscalculations and where possible purchase alcohol on a sale or return basis, as this will allow you to return any unopened boxes.

I do hope this has been helpful and if you require further guidance and assistance with any aspect of planning your wedding, please do get in touch to discuss the planning services I offer.

Image Credits: Terri & Lori Fine Art Photography & Film


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Essex wedding planner Hayley Jayne Weddings & Events in garden

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Hayley Jayne Weddings & Events
Brentwood, Essex

01277 226785
07889 171453

About Hayley

With a keen eye for detail, organisational skills that are second to none and the love of a “to do” list it was inevitable that Hayley would become an events planner. She started her career within the legal profession and was a Personal Assistant for 14 years before training with the UKAWP to become a professional wedding and events planner and then going on to launch “Hayley Jayne Weddings & Events”.

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Hayley Jayne Weddings & Events trained with the UKAWP