It might be one of the most discussed topics when it comes to Wedding Planning – and truth be told, depending who you ask for advice from – the advice will ALWAYS be different. How many drinks should you buy/budget for?
It’s actually QUITE an important question (and one – which I’m wondering now – why we’ve never blogged about) – get it wrong and the outcome could be, well, less than ideal. Running out of drinks at a Wedding, even a sober Wedding, would spell disaster. Thirsty guests don’t make for happy guests and once the drinks dry up – the atmosphere, and indeed the party, probably will too.
But how many drinks should you buy/budget for? Well – truth be told there are a variety of factors to take into consideration here.
The question is MUCH easier to answer if you’re having your Wedding at a licensed venue that provides the alcohol and has an abundance available – all you really need to work out is how much to budget for your bar Tab and let the venue worry about the supply. Sounds easy….right? Except…well – how do you know how much to even budget for?
It’s time to get your pencil, paper and calculator out.
First of all you have to figure out what kind of drinkers you and your guests are – light drinkers would probably drink 1 drink per hour whereas heavy drinkers would most likely drink 2 drinks per hour (on average). You could gamble and average it out or make a list and figure out how many of each you have. Once you determine how many drinks per hour your guests will drink then you need to multiply that number by how many hours you’ll be providing drinks to determine the amount of drinks required for your Wedding.
So let’s say we have 50 light drinkers and 50 heavy drinkers – so we have 100 guests drinking an average of 1.5 drinks per hour = 150 drinks per hour for all our guests. Some Weddings could see guests having access to the bar for 7-8 hours – so let’s say 150 x 8 = 1200 drinks required.
The next step is figuring out what kind of drinks you want to supply. Do you want to supply beer and wine only? Or do you want to offer spirits too? The more options you supply, the more complicated it gets to work out how much to budget. But let’s say you choose to offer Beer, Wines, 2 Signature Cocktails and Soft Drinks – and the average drink price is $10. 1200 x 12 = $12’000.
So your bar budget could be $12’000. (Yikes – that seems like A LOT, huh?). And take our advice – be generous in your calculations and have a 10% contingency up your sleeve – JUST IN CASE.
But what if you’re heading to a BYO Venue where you’re supplying the alcohol and not only do you need to work out HOW much to budget for but you need to figure out how much of each drink type to buy? I’m not going to lie – this one is MUCH more complex to answer and to be honest – there’s no easy way of working this out. One suggestion could be to pop a tick box on your RSVP asking your guests what their preference is, or once again you could gamble. Hopefully you know the people you’ve invited to your Wedding well enough to not only know if they’re a light or heavy drinker – but what their drink of choice is. But here are a few top-tips to help figure things out:-
- At Weddings white wine is always more popular than red. Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris are crowd pleasers and most white wine drinkers will be satisfied with either. For a Red – a Pinot Noir or a Merlot suits most palettes. A Rose is always a nice to have, but unless you know there are specific guests who ONLY drink Rose, it could wind up being an unnecessary expense.
- Champagne is delightful but carries a hefty price tag – a good quality brut or prosecco will satisfy most (and most won’t know the difference).
- Beer/Cider – you can’t go wrong with a variety of options but keep it simple – 1 craft, 1 lager and maybe a light beer and a cider option.
- Instead of offering a whole range of spirit options – consider 1 or 2 signature cocktail options and pre-mix in large pitchers or dispensers – this will work out cheaper and will save on wastage/excess – especially if you don’t have anyone tending bar.
- Take the weather/season into consideration – white wine and beer will be more popular in summer, with red wine possibly being popular in winter.
- Think about the designated drivers, tee-totallers and your pregnant/breast feeding guests and have interesting non-alcoholic options. There really is nothing worse than drinking water only at an 8 hour affair.
- Buy Ice. Lots and Lots of ice. Think about how much ice you might need and double it. You can’t have too much ice.
- Consider hiring a chiller trailer.
- Get extra glassware. Don’t just get 1 glass per person – people put their glasses down and forget where they put them, they change their drink option throughout the night and of course, there are always breakages. If you don’t have someone tending bar and washing glasses – get plenty extra.
- Keep your eyes on supermarket/liquor store special offers – contact stores to ask if they offer a buy-back option on unopened boxes etc.
- And once again – be generous with your calculations and add on an extra 10% contingency – JUST IN CASE.
It all boils down to this – your friends and family are there to celebrate you and will hopefully be ecstatic by whatever options you’re offering if they’re not paying for them (sounds blunt – but honest) and so try not to spend too much time worrying about it. Remember as hosts – be responsible – have lots of soft drink options and water available, have taxi/ride share telephone numbers on-hand (or pre-arrange a bus) and above all, relax and enjoy not only the planning process but the Wedding itself.