Food and Cakes

How Much Did You Spend on Alcohol?

I am working on a wedding budget and have been filling in estimates for areas I am unsure about, and alcohol is a big one for me. I've tried a few alcohol calculators, and I just feel like they are coming in WAY below what I estimated alcohol to cost. I figured it would cost between $1-2k.

Brief info: 
I am having no more than 100 guests
I would ideally like to serve wine, beer, and some liquor (maybe signature drinks, maybe just something like vodka, whiskey, and tequila with mixers, not sure).
I am providing alcohol for the whole night (duh) so about 5-6 hours.
I'd say my guests are a fair mix of average to heavy drinkers. I expect them to drink a mixture of all three things...it's really hard to say. The Uncles love mixed drinks, friends love whatever they can get their hands on, Aunts love wine.

So, what all did you spend on alcohol for your weddings? I know this will vary by location, but I am just looking for a ballpark. 

*Just alcohol, not bartenders or any other related fees*
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Re: How Much Did You Spend on Alcohol?

  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado
    Moderator Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    mod
    This will depend on where you live, but I will give what we paid.

    We had a 147 person wedding in South New Jersey.  We bought all the alcohol from a local liquor store.  They allowed all UNOPENED bottles to be returned for a full refund.     It's my understand not all states allow this, but it's worth checking out.

    We spent about $3000 for the alcohol.    I think we returned about $200 worth of liquor.  Can't remember.

    Now, we had a top shelf bar with a lot of options.  We could have easily spent less.  We also had 2 bars, so we 2 bottles opened meaning we could not return them.  


    If you have the budget I would suggest

    Beer - 1 domestic light (coors light, bud light or miller lite) and then 2-3 others based on what your crowd likes.

    Wine - at least 1 white and 1 red.  Although 2 of each would be better

    Liquor -    Vodka, rum, whiskey and maybe one other like tequila.  Again, base it on your crowd.  In general vodka, rum, gin and whiskey, gin  are the top favorites in most crowds.   You do not have to have high end, but cheap isn't good either.   I would try mid-range

    Mixers - coke, diet, sprite, club soda, tonic,  Juices - OJ, cranberry, pineapple, grapefruit

    Lemons, limes.  If you are allowing martinis ad olives.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    abcdevonn
  • lyndausvi said:
    This will depend on where you live, but I will give what we paid.

    We had a 147 person wedding in South New Jersey.  We bought all the alcohol from a local liquor store.  They allowed all UNOPENED bottles to be returned for a full refund.     It's my understand not all states allow this, but it's worth checking out.

    We spent about $3000 for the alcohol.    I think we returned about $200 worth of liquor.  Can't remember.

    Now, we had a top shelf bar with a lot of options.  We could have easily spent less.  We also had 2 bars, so we 2 bottles opened meaning we could not return them.  


    If you have the budget I would suggest

    Beer - 1 domestic light (coors light, bud light or miller lite) and then 2-3 others based on what your crowd likes.

    Wine - at least 1 white and 1 red.  Although 2 of each would be better

    Liquor -    Vodka, rum, whiskey and maybe one other like tequila.  Again, base it on your crowd.  In general vodka, rum, gin and whiskey, gin  are the top favorites in most crowds.   You do not have to have high end, but cheap isn't good either.   I would try mid-range

    Mixers - coke, diet, sprite, club soda, tonic,  Juices - OJ, cranberry, pineapple, grapefruit

    Lemons, limes.  If you are allowing martinis ad olives.
    I'm actually in SNJ so that is good to know! Thanks!
    image
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado
    Moderator Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    mod
    Cool.  We got married in Cape May.   We had the local store give us an estimate on what we needed. We told them the amount of guests we had and what level bar we wanted.

     Then we tweaked their list to our needs.  I.E we had a lot of vodka drinkers so we up'ed those amounts.  We lowered others since we knew they were not as popular in our crowd.

    In the end we only ran out of Jack Daniels, but the staff ran to the store to get more.  Crisis was adverted.








    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    abcdevonn
  • I don't really know how much just the alcohol (minus service, mixers, garnishes, glass rental, etc.) was.... Our whole bar was around $10K.
    *********************************************************************************

    image
    abcdevonn
  • simcal18simcal18
    500 Love Its Third Anniversary 100 Comments First Answer
    member
    edited June 2015
    We're doing a wedding with around 180 guests this July.  The initial estimate for alcohol that we received from the liquor store was for a little over $3000.  As in NJ, you can return open bottles, and they expected around $1000 of that alcohol to be returned unopened.  We tweaked the order a bit based on our group preferences and signature drinks, but the initial estimate was a really good start for a mid-range full bar.
    abcdevonnlyndausvi
  • We are in the southeast so our prices tend to be a bit lower than further north. We were allowed to buy our own alcohol and bring it to the venue. Just being able to do that really cuts down on the costs. We had about 100 guests. We served wine, sparkling wine, beer and whiskey. We were not able to return unopened bottles so we were stuck with whatever was left over. For that reason we tried to buy things we would actually drink or perhaps gift to people later. 

    The calculators I found online (Bevmo, etc.) were REALLY off for our crowd. They suggested anywhere from 40-60 bottles of wine and only 7 750 ml of liquor. We bought the equivalent of 24 750 ml bottles (actually, a little more because we bought some double sized bottles that are actually 1.75 liters, but I'm just rounding down). We went through almost every drop of whiskey. 

    White wine -- Barefoot Pinot Grigio (4 of these were drunk) and Chardonnay (2 of these were drunk), six double bottles of each at $12 per, so $144. 
    Red wine -- Meoimi Pinot Noir 8 bottles, six of which were drunk, ($19 per) and 5 boxes of Bota Box Shiraz, 2 of which were drunk ($16), so $334. 
    Sparkling -- Poema Brut (20 bottles) for $200. We went through I think 12-13 of these bottles but are especially cool with leftovers here because they are a nice hostess gift and usually retail for closer to $14 in stores. 
    Beer -- 4 cases of 24 Miller lights, 20 bottles of specialty raspberry beer, 12 cans of high end stout. All beer was probably $120 or so. 
    Whiskey -- We bought 24 bottles worth of whiskey and every single bottle got opened. There were only three partially full bottles left by the end of the night, and we only had a five hour reception. We spent: $120 for 4 bottles Woodford, $110 for 4 bottles Slow and Low, $160 for 8 bottles Maker's Mark, $85 for 4 bottles of Buffalo Trace, $110 for 4 bottles of Chattanooga Whiskey. 

    For mixers I probably spent $200 or so on sodas, juices, and garnishes (one garnish was an $80 6 pound can of gourmet cherries for cocktails - Luxardo). 

    We definitely encouraged people to drink the whiskey so I know that was part of it. But I would definitely say that if you are having one kind of liquor/specialty drink you plan that everyone is going to have a lot of that. Our bartenders also were catastrophically heavy handed in their pours. Like, hey, I'll put some ice in this high ball and then just fill it to the top with Woodford. Eek. But I didn't realize it at the time so I do think that was part of it. We spent just under $1,600 on drinks altogether (including non-alcoholic). Regardless of the pouring issues that was a complete steal for the quality of bar we had. 
    image
    abcdevonn
  • Cookie PusherCookie Pusher Looking over your shoulder
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    Like Lynda, our alcohol was on consignment (we ordered, caterer brought it to the wedding and sent back any unopened bottles while we kept the open stuff, we got charged a week later for what we actually used). We had between 60-65 drinkers at the 5-hour reception. Most were moderate drinkers, but we had quite a few heavy drinkers. We did mostly premium liquor with 4 types of beer and 4 types of wine. 

    The caterer was originally concerned because we were ordering far more alcohol than he thought we would need for a wedding as small as ours, but emailed me that he was impressed that we drank 80% of what they brought. We ended up spending about $900 since the caterer provided all non-alcoholic beverages and mixers.
    ~*~*~*~*~
    Seriously, why the FUCK are you stalking me?! You need to get a life and stop being obsessed with me.
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    abcdevonn
  • kvrunskvruns
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    member

    64 guests, 2 were children, and a couple of non drinkers.  Definitely some heavy drinkers in there.  We did beer and wine, plus bottled water and sodas. Friday evening wedding, reception was 4 hours long. We brought in our own alcohol all purchased from Sam’s club which had good prices and you can return unopened stuff:

    Beer:

    2 cases of Coors Light   ($16 per case)

    2 cases of Summer Shandy  ($24 per case)

    3 cases of Corona ($24 per case)

    *** Summer shandy ran out with about 30 min to go, we have 1 unopened case of Corona (why FI bought 3 I have no idea!!), and about 18-20 bottles of Coors Light and Corona leftover.  I was very surprised this much was left.

    Wine:

    6-7 bottles of Pinot Grigio (the big bottles that are like 2 in 1) ($9 per bottle)

    5 bottles of Moscato (big bottles, $9 per bottle)

    8 bottles of a local light red wine ($5.50 per bottle I think)

    *** Had 2 bottles of Pinot Grigio left, 3 of Moscato, and 4 of the red.  Was surprised we had this much leftover too, although I think our red was too sweet for Red drinkers and apparently no one but me likes moscato

    Water:

    3 packs of 40 bottles of water ($4).  One 40 pack was unopened

    Soda:

    2 cases of Diet Coke, 2 cases of Coke, 1 case of Sprite

    *** Purchased during Memorial Day sale for $5 each case. Have one unopened Diet Coke and one unopened Coke and some random cans from the others. All will be repurposed for a July 4th party.

    Total spent about $350. Will return about $75-80 of stuff because we won’t use the beer or wine that is left. I am very surprised we had this much left, the reception was hopping until ending time at 11 but I think people weren’t drinking as much as I thought they would.


    abcdevonnspockforprez
  • madamerwinmadamerwin
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Third Anniversary Name Dropper
    member
    edited June 2015
    We have not purchased everything so far (no mixers or beer yet), but here's what we do have. Granted, we overbought by about double according to what our caterer told us we would need, so half of this will probably end up in our basement after the reception (and we won't have to buy booze for a year!). We are both of the mindset that it's better to have leftovers than to run out, and it's not like leftovers will go to waste...

    Liquor from Costco
    12 vodka (Kirkland brand 1.75ml): $170
    6 Rye (Bulleit 1.75ml): $180
    6 Bourbon (Jim Beam, 1.75ml): $115

    Wine
    20 bottles Pinot Noir + 20 bottles Pinot Grigio (Costco): $280
    12 bottles Rose (Trader Joe's): $84 

    Still need beer and mixers, which we're estimating will add another $300 or so. So that will put us to about $1100-$1200 total? Again, I highly doubt we will go through that much liquor, but better safe than sorry.

    ETA: I forgot our guest count - we'll have about 80 adults, a handful of whom don't drink alcohol, but about 1/3 of the adults will probably drink more than average.
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    abcdevonn
  • Seriously you guys are all awesome and it is REALLY helpful to get a ballpark idea. Having never thrown a party this big, I had no idea what to expect for alcohol costs. Thanks so much for all of your input!
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    lyndausvimadamerwin
  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    We had a consumption bar and it totaled out to be around $3500. That was beer, wine, some top shelf. 120 people. Cocktail hour was included, so the bar tab was for 4 hours. We also had a lot of heavy drinkers.

  • Our wedding is for 50 people. For 6+ hours of an open bar, it's $25-28 per person (with bartender fees and tax already included) depending on if you're going rail, call, or premium/top shelf. That evens out to $1,250-1,400, and covers cocktail hour, dinner, and reception/rest of the night.
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