Wedding Alcohol Cost and Bar Budget

Almost everyone who plans a wedding has to decide how much of their budget to allocate toward the bar and how many beverages to stock their wedding bar with.

A wedding planner should be equipped to help with this information.

We answer many of your questions in this article.

To start, a good rule of thumb is to assume the average guest will consume two drinks during the first hour and then one drink for each hour thereafter.

Alcohol Budget

The cost of an average open bar at a wedding can account for 10 – 20% of the wedding budget. And don’t forget that tipping the bar tenders at the end of the night can run as much as 20% of the final bar tab.

By using the above rule of thumb of two drinks during the first hour and one drink thereafter per guest, you can assume that the average drink costs you $5. Multiply the cost by the number of guests by the number of hours for your open bar to get the total cost.

Let’s look at an example to help – lets say you have 150 people at your wedding. It is always better to overestimate than to come up short so lets say the average person consumes 6 drinks. That means 900 drinks will be consumed at an average cost of $5 each.

Your open bar budget should be $4500 in this example.

How Many Alcoholic Beverages are Needed

Use this as a rule of thumb – these are averages for the number of bottles needed per hour per guest:

  • For every 25 guests, you will need 17 bottles of beer, 4 bottles of wine and 1 bottle of liquor (per hour).
  • For every 50 guests, you will need 34 bottles of beer, 7 bottles of wine and 2 bottle of liquor (per hour).
  • For every 100 guests, you will need 67 bottles of beer, 14 bottles of wine and 4 bottle of liquor (per hour).

Keep in mind the above averages are PER HOUR, so multiply those by each hour your open bar will be available.

The average wedding keeps the bar open for up to 5 hours.

Most Popular Wedding Reception Drinks

We polled hundreds of wedding planners and here are the most popular mixed drinks at weddings:

  • Martinis
  • Margaritas
  • Pina Coladas
  • Daiquiris
  • Mojitos

Average Glasses Per Bottle

  • The typical bottle of liquor for mixed drinks can make 18 cocktails.
  • The typical bottle of champagne makes 8 glasses.
  • The typical bottle of wine makes 5 glasses.

A safe estimate to make is that each guest will consume 5 drinks on average during the wedding.

For advice on bartender staffing we have this article.

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How to Figure out your Wedding Alcohol Cost and Bar Budget / How to be an Event Planner / Event Planning Skills / Event Planning Courses


  • Leo

    Reply Reply September 17, 2016

    This helped me plan my wedding alcohol budget. Great rules of thumb. Thanks.

  • Tim Sanchez

    Reply Reply February 24, 2017

    You make figuring out my alcohol / bar budget so easy here. Thanks. Valuable and simple.

  • Jennifer Shaw Weddings

    Reply Reply July 21, 2017

    I used these portions for my client’s wedding last weekend and it turned out perfect!

  • Courtney

    Reply Reply August 6, 2018

    As a bartending company owner, this is a very accurate article with good calculations. When I first started bartending weddings & events I had trouble knowing what to tell clients regarding how much alcohol to purchase for their wedding. I learned through trial & error but also researching information like this. Very helpful and detailed. Thanks!

  • Tina Ketner

    Reply Reply August 15, 2019

    How much beer and wine for 150 guests…reception lasts 4 hours

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