How Much Beer and Wine Should You Order for the Wedding Reception?

Hi friends, welcome back to the Wedding Film Blog. Today, I’m talking beer, wine and how much you need to purchase for the wedding reception. There are a couple of ways to figure everything out and I’m going to share with you some great knowledge I picked up along the way as a wedding videographer.

The Wedding Guests

First, you need to figure out how many wedding guests drink, not everyone does and those that do, some drink a lot, some, maybe a beer or two. It’s actually a pretty easy thing to figure out, after all these are your friends and family that are coming to the wedding and reception.

Let’s use the standard example of 100 people. Usually, about 10% will be children so that leaves us with about 90 guests, then take about 12% for the elderly, they might have a drink but more times than none, they don’t. That’s going to leave you with about 80 people.

Of those, you’ll simply need to figure out if they drink at all and how much. It’s pretty easy, you’re going to know the person and usually if they bring a spouse or plus one, they’ll be similar to the guest that you know.

If all else fails, you can always use the 30% rule. If you have any guests that drink, plan on buying beer and wine for at least 30% of the wedding party if you’re not sure. Plan on each having at least two glasses or wine or three beers.

Online Calculators

If you still don’t have any idea of how much booze you need to purchase, there are a handful of online calculators that you can find as well.

A couple that I recommend that you try the following:

·         Evite Drink Calculator

·         Big Red Liquors Drink Calculator

·         Liquor Depot Drink Calculator

These are all slightly different when it comes to the numbers, but it should provide you a estimate of the amount of wine and beer that you’ll need to purchase.


Return Policy

If you do plan on buying wine or beer, try to buy them directly from the manufacturing businesses themselves. Many wineries in the area will work with you on getting wine for the wedding, they’ll usually offer a discount of some type plus many have a return policy on unopened bottles that you don’t use at the wedding.

There are also several craft breweries in the Roanoke region that will do the same thing, all you have to do is ask them.

Grocery stores are not going to extend this policy unless you speak with the manager, so if you do try to hit you your local Food Lion, Kroger or Walmart Neighborhood Market, speak with the manager and get the policy in writing too.

Things to Think About

Before we dive into the different bar options and how to calculate the amount of alcohol you’ll need, there are a few things you should take into consideration. The time and day of the week of your wedding will influence the amount of alcohol people will want to drink.

For example, attendees at a Friday night wedding will most likely drink much more than attendees at a Sunday daytime wedding. The personalities and tendencies of your guests should also be considered. If you know that your family can and will drink a lot of wine but will shy away from hard liquor, you should plan to have less hard liquor (if any at all) and more wine to compensate.

The type of wedding environment you’re hoping to have is also a major influencer in the amount and types of alcohol you supply. If you’re planning to have a classy, formal affair you’ll probably shy away from having an open bar so that people don’t get overly rowdy. If you want to have a big party that’s more casual, offering an open bar or many types of alcohol would be more appropriate.

Of course, your budget is one of the biggest factors in your decision-making process so if you’re not planning to allocate a large part of your wedding budget to alcohol, you most likely won’t choose to go with an open bar.

The License

Don’t forget to purchase a banquet license if you’re planning to have booze at your wedding reception. When you book the venue, that doesn’t include a permit that you need to purchase from the Virginia ABC.

That includes beer, wine and liquor of any kind. You can get the license now through an online application process and a small fee too, starting at about $40+. You can find that at Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority Website.