Ask LH: How Much Booze Do I Need For My Wedding?

Hi Lifehacker. I’m trying to organise beverage catering for my wedding. I’m doing it on a consumption basis, but I don’t know what alcohol to request or the quantity to order. Could you please suggest the number of beer choices, number of wine options, and what variety of liquor to have at the reception dinner? Thanks, Bridal Beverages

Wedding bubbly picture from Shutterstock

Dear BB,

Congrats on your impending nuptials! The answer to this question depends on a range of factors, including the drinking habits of your guests (do they like to party hard?), the size of your reception (how many people are you inviting?) and the estimated length of the wedding (do you expect it to go past midnight?)

As a general rule of thumb, you should allow two-to-three drinks per guest for the first hour and one-to-two drinks for each additional hour. Some people will want to drink more than this and others will drink less, so it should all work out reasonably well if you follow the above formula.

In terms of individual choices, I’d keep the selection down to two or three beer varieties, one red and one white, plus something a bit fancier for the bridal party’s table.

It’s definitely advisable to stick to red/white wine and beer; especially if you’re trying to keep costs down. Adding spirits to the mix will result in less alcohol to go around and also increases the likelihood of ugly, drunken behavior from certain guests (you know the ones we’re talking about).

If the reception’s venue has its own bar facility, you can naturally invite guests to buy their own drinks if they want something stiffer — this is standard practice at weddings and isn’t likely to be frowned upon. Again, this also decreases the odds of people getting blind drunk as they’ll be paying out of their own pocket.

If you’re looking to order online, the Dan Murphy Event Planner can help you choose the correct quantity of drinks — it has options for the number of guests, the event duration and the style of drinks you want to serve. Buying online will net you more liquor for less money, but you’ll need to check with the venue’s owners first (basically, anywhere that sells its own alcohol is not going to allow it.)

When working out your alcohol budget, also make sure to include some bubbly for after the ceremony — apart from being a wedding tradition, this will ensure that your guests are reasonably entertained while you take photos and the like.

As always, we’re also keen to hear any tips from readers who have recently tied the knot. How much alcohol did you serve and what kind of variety did you offer? Let BB know in the comments section below.


Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our [contact text=”contact form”].


6 responses to “Ask LH: How Much Booze Do I Need For My Wedding?”