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How much alcohol do I need for my wedding?

wedding champagne tower

Photo by Ivy Road Photography

A very, very important question indeed.

Calculating the amount of alcohol you need at a wedding is a necessary part of wedding planning. It’s also kind of nerve-wracking. Our worst nightmares involve an empty bar.

Before writing this article, we had a look online to see what other sources recommended. We were a little shocked to read that the consensus across several websites was to factor 1 drink per-person, per-hour. Wha-at? Clearly these people have never been to a wedding with our mates. Or clearly, we never realised how much we fit into the binge-drinking epidemic that has apparently ravaged the Australian youth. Either way, this sounded kind of risky to us.

Rule #1: Be realistic

There aren’t many weddings where people go easy on the alcohol. It’s free and people are in the mood to celebrate! It can be pretty scary how quickly it adds up, and reveals (sometimes concerning) insights into your friends’ and family’s drinking habits! The gist of it is…

  1. Divide your guests into drinking ‘types’ (e.g. ‘heavy drinking males’, ‘heavy drinking females’, ‘light drinking males’… etc).
  2. Estimate the average bottles/glasses of beer, wine, champagne and any other drinks they might individually consume over the time period (e.g. A heavy drinking male might consume 10 beers and 2 champagnes).
  3. Do this for each group and multiply it by the number of people in that group (e.g. 20 heavy drinking males would equal 200 beers and 40 glasses of champagne).
  4. Tally up your bottles and then cases required.
  5. Gasp!

Rule #2: Keep it simple

It’s not a wine or beer tasting. People tend to stick to what they know, so you don’t need to offer a huge choice.

  • Keep your wine varieties simple and safe (1 or 2 whites, 1 or 2 reds)
  • 1 type of bubbles, prosecco or champagne
  • 3 beer varieties should be plenty. 1 craft, 1 standard and a mid-strength or light beer.

A few other tips:

  • Planning a day/arvo wedding in summer or somewhere hot? The boys will suck back the beers like there’s no tomorrow so order more than you think.
  • Don’t forget about your non-drinkers! It’s hard enough being pregnant, breastfeeding, or the designated driver at a wedding, let alone being forced to drink lemon water all night. Have a few fancy options such as little Capi bottles or a non-alcoholic fruit punch to help them get into the party mood too.
  • Look out for specials or bulk-buy deals at the big booze retailers or word up your local bottle shop as they will often do you a deal with larger orders.
  • Have a water station handy, and make sure it’s kept topped up and looking fresh – a hydrated guest is a happy guest (especially the next day).
  • Look for alcohol suppliers that allow you to return unopened cases, or have a back-up plan (i.e. someone sober who can do a bottle-o run) if need be. It’s always better to have a little too much – those bottles of wine and cases of beer are excellent bargaining tools for next-day helpers and general gestures of thanks.
  • If you’re planning on serving cocktails or mixed drinks, you will need plenty of bags of ice to serve these up with.
  • Avoid a post-speech/dinner energy slump and fire up the dancefloor with espresso martini shots! Get your local barista mate to make up a few litres of espresso, chill it and shake it up with some vodka for some extra twinkle in your toes.

A final couple of words from us – play it safe and over-cater. Also, think seasonal – people are more likely to drink white wine and beers in summer and hit the red wines more in winter.

And, most importantly, drink responsibly at weddings. The standard rules of responsible service of alcohol apply at weddings and the catering/service/venue staff have a duty to ensure everyone is kept happy and safe. While you want the fun times to be in excess, keep the drinks in moderation.



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23rd March, 2020

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  1. We are planning a wedding for my son and his partner at our home this New Years Eve. Loved your article about planning the alcohol so would be keen to be on your mailing list for other inspo.

    Jo Tilley
    • Hi Jo, so glad to hear you found it helpful. You can easily sign up to our mailing list by scrolling to the bottom of our homepage here

      karina Lowndes
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