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Wedspiration > Advice > How much alcohol do I need for my wedding?
How much alcohol do I need for my wedding?
No pressure but it’s vital you get this right. Which is why we got some expert advice which we’re sharing with you.
wedding champagne tower
Words by Amy Parfett
23 March 2020

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. There had to be a better, more specific and data-driven way to get to the real numbers.

So we chatted to the experts – our team, a bunch of wedding planners and the folks at Dan Murphy’s Wedding and Events Services to figure out how much alcohol you’ll need for your wedding. We’ve got a bunch of rules to help you nail this.

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!

Better yet, use Dan Murphy’s party planner drinks calculator. It’ll do the same thing but with scary accuracy, based on thousands of customer’s events data.


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 (2 or 3 whites, 2 or 3 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.

If you’re planning on serving cocktails or mixed drinks, you will need plenty of bags of ice to serve these up with. Make sure your venue has this covered, or allocate the job to someone responsible if you’re getting hitched at a BYO property.

And while we’re talking cocktails, consider avoiding 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.


Rule #3: Factor in the seasons

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. 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).

If it’s going to be cooler, know that the consumption of red wines will be higher. Consider leaning into the vibe and warming guests up with a mulled wine option too, or having bottles of port or muscat on tables for guests to warm themselves up with.


Rule #4: Don’t forget 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. There’s a fantastic range of non-alc drinks (wines, beers, ready-to-drink cans) that can make non-drinkers feel included and special.


Rule #5: Play it safe and over-cater (you can always send extras back)

It’s not a ploy to get you to buy more than you need – but it really is always better to have a little too much than too little. Those bottles of wine and cases of beer are excellent bargaining tools for next-day helpers and general gestures of thanks.

Plus, if you purchase from Dan Murphy’s Wedding and Events team, you can return unopened cases for a refund


Did you know?

…that Dan Murphy’s has an entire Wedding and Events Services Team dedicated to helping couples nail their wedding drinks? Neither did we until recently – and here’s why you should care.

1. They’ll help you figure our quantities and choose the right drinks for you – for free

Dan’s has a whole team of wedding and events agents that’ll have a zero-pressure chat to you to determine exactly what you need for your wedding, for both your budget and guest numbers. Here’s their online calculator to have a go yourself to start with.

2. They’ll send you tasting kits to try out (which are FREE if you order more drinks through Dan’s)

Nervous about buying before trying? Don’t be – Dan’s tasting kits mean you can taste-test the different wines, beers and other beverages you’re thinking of serving at your wedding (our tip: invite some mates over and make a night of it). And the cost of the kit is deducted from any future order, meaning they’re on the house.

3. They’ll deliver drinks directly to your venue

No mucking about on your end trying to move multiple boot-loads of booze. Instead, your drinks will be affordably sent straight to your venue on time and in perfect condition, taking a huge weight off your shoulders.

4. They’ll buy back alcohol you don’t use

Nervous about over-purchasing? No stress – Dan’s offers a ‘buy-back service’, i.e. they’ll buy back unopened cases of alcohol, meaning you really can’t go wrong on your quantities.


Learn more about Dan Murphy’s Wedding & Events Services here – their friendly, drinks-loving team will make organising your wedding and engagement party beverages a cinch. 



Searching for mobile bars and alcohol servers? Find a collection of amazing ones here.

Discover We Do Crew: the wedding planning membership that’s like having a wedding planner in your pocket.

Set up an online wedding gift registry over at Gravy: it’s the most unique, heart-felt registry in the world.

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