A question I often get asked is how much alcohol do we need to buy for our wedding? I have created a drinks guide and thought some guidance on how much alcohol you need to buy would be useful. 

If you’re organising the drinks for your wedding then you’re probably wondering how on earth to work out how much you need to buy. You really don’t want the bar to run dry but you also don’t want to be left with litres of stuff that you have to drink yourself! Or maybe you actually quite like the sound of this?

I have been at weddings where I had to run out to the nearest supermarket to buy more, if you haven’t got anyone who can do this, you’re a bit stuck.

Here are some guidelines for working out what you need to buy.

Let’s start with some straightforward quantity info:

·     A 75cl bottle of wine will provide 4 (175ml) glasses of wine 

·    One bottle of champagne or prosecco will fill 6 flutes

·    A litre bottle of spirits will provide 40 x 25ml measures (this is a standard pub measure. If you’re serving double measures then you’ll just get 20 measures from that bottle)

·   For beer, if you choose kegs,  then a standard 11 gallon keg holds 88 pints.  Alternatively you can buy individual bottles for ease of serving.

Let’s think about what you need to serve at the various stages of your wedding day.


Drinks Reception

As a guide, allow 2 drinks per guest for the first hour of the drinks reception.  The first one will go down quickly!  After that allow one drink per hour. So a typical 1.5/2 hour drinks reception will require 3 drinks per guest.

Typically, most couples serve prosecco or champagne at their drinks reception. I am finding more couples are also offering bottled lager/beer as an alternative served in big ice buckets. You know your guests – if there are some who won’t drink fizz, then make sure you have some alternatives for them as well as a soft drink option. 

Soft Drinks

You should have a good supply of soft drinks for the drinks reception and for throughout the day. Factor in how many children you have attending, do you have any guests who will driving, any pregnant guests and people who you know will have one or two drinks and that’s it. A 2 litre bottle of soft drink will provide 10 x 300ml measures, a standard can of coke is 330ml.

You’ll also need mixers for spirits like tonic, coke, lemonade.  It’s a good idea to have some fruit juices available too.  There are lots of really good non alcoholic drinks available now too, from beers to gins so you might want to consider some of these. A Kilner style drinks dispenser with iced water available throughout the day is a nice touch. 

Wedding Breakfast

During your meal, it’s usual to have wine on the tables.  As a general rule, white and red wine will be a fairly even split (again bear in mind your guests preferences though.) The general guide here is to supply half a bottle of wine per guest. Some will drink more than that but there will be some guests who only drink one glass. You’ll also need to have bottled water on the tables.  A litre bottle will provide around 4 glasses, assume one glass per guest and provide a mix of still and sparkling water. 


It’s traditional to supply a glass of fizz for the toasts during the speeches.  You should provide one glass per guest, remember, you’ll get 6 flutes from one bottle.

Evening Bar

Now this is much more difficult.  Guests will generally expect more options to be available in the evening.

Assume that guests will have 4-6 drinks each during a 4 hour party. (there’ll be variations so this should balance it out) Again factor in how many non drinkers you have. You’ll need to provide white, red and sparkling wine as well as lager and beer as a minimum. If you’re going with beer and wine only, then assume 50% of guests will have beer and 50% will have wine. As a guide, if you have 100 guests, you will need around 50 bottles of wine (a mix of red and white.)  Plus around 300 pints/bottles of lager, beer and cider.

If you want to provide a fuller bar, you’re going to need spirits and mixers too. Vodka, Gin, Rum are generally the most popular. Remember a litre bottle of spirits will provide you with 40 x 25ml measures.

Ice, ice baby!

For marquee weddings I would always suggest a fridge trailer so you can chill your own drinks a few days before the wedding. Ice troughs can be used on the day but this tends to take the labels off and you wont be able to return. A standard bar will use about 6 boxes of ice which equates to 25-30 bags of ice.

Other things to consider

·   Over order by 10-15% to ensure you have some contingency. Nothing worse than running out of alcohol at a wedding!

·   Remember to cater for the non drinkers. Don’t just force them to drink water all day!

·   Wherever you can, buy drinks on a sale or return basis. This will allow you to take back any unopened boxes.

If you’re considering this type of set up for your wedding, you might want to think about getting some help for your set up and to ensure your day runs to plan.  My On the Day Coordination service would work really well for you, you can read more here or get in touch to chat about how I could help you.

Love and hugs, Katie. X