How much alchohol should I provide?

Moodies Wedding Drinks Guide

We are frequently asked how much alcohol to provide at a wedding so we thought we’d put together a handy guide! 

The most popular way to provide drinks for your wedding guests is for the bride and groom to provide reception, table and toast drinks, and for another supplier to provide a cash bar for guests in the evening. This can be anything from a simple cash bar with beer, wines and a few spirits, to a full bar service with optics and cool LED lighting!

This method works in both dry hire venues and marquees and is a great solution if you are working on a budget. Moodies can recommend several local cash bar suppliers who are people we’ve worked with, and trusted, for years.

The second most popular alternative is for the bride and groom to choose and provide all the alcohol for their wedding including the evening drinks. This has the merit of simplicity – you take the alcohol to the venue, let the caterers look after it all, and enjoy your awesome party.

The third alternative is to arrange a full drinks package with your caterer including reception drinks, table drinks, toast and evening bar. Whilst this may cost more, it takes all the stress of arranging drinks away from you. You can be completely relaxed, secure in the knowledge that it is all taken care of for you. The downside is that you may lose some flexibility in choice.

If you are buying the alcohol yourself, how much to allow per person?

Firstly, check whether your caterer or venue serves corkage, or has a list of wines that they want you to buy from. Moodies does not charge corkage.

Moodies recommends allowing half a bottle of sparkling wine per person (three glasses) but if your reception is going to be a short one, say one hour, than two glasses should be enough.

If you would like Pimm’s as your reception drink, again, we recommend allowing two glasses for a short reception and three otherwise. As a rough guide, one litre bottle of Pimm’s should make 20 tall glasses. You can however weaken the Pimm’s slightly and make it last a bit longer!

Drinks for the Table

Allow half a bottle of wine per person. Red or white though? It’s difficult to know but more people will probably drink white than red. It does depend a bit on your meal choices, the time of year and timing of your event, and on your guests. Indoors in winter, and red will probably be more popular. A marquee or garden wedding in summer, and chilled white will be the preferred choice. In general, it’s probably best to assume an even split.

champagne ready to serveFor the Champagne Toast

You should work on the basis that one bottle provides six glasses, and give each guest one glass. Nice and easy.

Evening Drinks

This one is difficult to judge as it depends on your guests and what you want to serve them. Are you providing a full bar or a limited wedding bar? In our experience, if you are providing a free bar there is absolutely no need to go for all the bells and whistles and offer twenty different kinds of spirits. Two kinds of beer, red and white wine, some soft drinks, and optionally, three spirits such as gin, spiced rum and vodka will be fine.

In terms of quantity, depending on the length of the evening, you should allow 4-6 small bottles of beer per person, and one bottle of wine per person.

All this may sound like a lot of alcohol but then there is nothing more dismal than running out of booze in the middle of a wedding! It is always better to have too much than too little.

Our top tip here is to buy your alcohol on a Sale or Return basis.

Some companies will even deliver the alcohol to your venue for you and collect the returns. You won’t be left with silly amounts of booze to finish up and you’ll get some money back on the returns. Make sure you know your supplier’s rules; you may not be able to return opened cases, for example.

So, to recap:

  • Reception – half bottle per person, 2-3 glasses of Pimm’s
  • Table wines – half bottle per person, work on even split of red and white but consider your day
  • Evening – one bottle of wine per person, 4-6 small bottles of beer, 4-5 bottles each of vodka, gin and rum
  • Don’t forget mixers and soft drinks, too

Enjoy your celebration!