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Cost of Alcohol?

For those of you who provided your own alcohol, I'm curious what you spent. How many drinking-age guests did you have, what sort of alcohol did you provide, and what was your final cost? 

We're thinking of choosing a venue that provides all glassware, mixers, and soft drinks, but does not provide the alcohol. We know we want to have an open bar (or at least provide beer and wine), so we want to factor that potential cost into the overall cost of the venue before we pull the trigger on booking. 

I've been looking up costs of kegs and whatnot online, but I'm wondering if there's some super secret way to get large amounts of booze on the cheap that I don't know about yet. Any guidance would be appreciated! 

Re: Cost of Alcohol?

  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited January 2017
    Ours cost about $3000.    We had 145 guests with only 7 not of drinking age.   We come from a big drinking social group.    We also stocked 2 top shelf bars, with lots of options.   We were able to return any unopened bottles.  


    We could have done it much cheaper by providing less options and not having premium brands.



    ETA - we were also in South New Jersey.  Location will play a roll in costs also.






    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. 
  • lyndausvi said:
    Ours cost about $3000.    We had 145 guests with only 7 not of drinking age.   We come from a big drinking social group.    We also stocked 2 top shelf bars, with lots of options.   We were able to return any unopened bottles.  


    We could have done it much cheaper by providing less options and not having premium brands.



    ETA - we were also in South New Jersey.  Location will play a roll in costs also.
    This is helpful, thanks!

    What sort of place did you go to find your booze? Do people use Costco for this sort of thing, or are there, like... wholesale liquor warehouses? Is that a thing? 
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    mrose88 said:
    lyndausvi said:
    Ours cost about $3000.    We had 145 guests with only 7 not of drinking age.   We come from a big drinking social group.    We also stocked 2 top shelf bars, with lots of options.   We were able to return any unopened bottles.  


    We could have done it much cheaper by providing less options and not having premium brands.



    ETA - we were also in South New Jersey.  Location will play a roll in costs also.
    This is helpful, thanks!

    What sort of place did you go to find your booze? Do people use Costco for this sort of thing, or are there, like... wholesale liquor warehouses? Is that a thing? 
    Our wedding was OOT.  We were in contact with a local liquor store via our venue who helped us out with prices and amounts.    We also got a discount for buying so much.  

    Others on here have used Costco or similar type places. Stock up wine at Trader Joe's on sale.  Stuff like that.   It can depend on your state laws.  Some states you can only buy liquor at state stores.  Other states you can buy any alcohol just about any place.  Most states are some where in between.  Beer and wine at some stores.  Hard liquor at others.    Shop around.      

     I lived in the USVI and could buy liquor for very cheap and bring up to 6 bottles (each person) back to the states.  However, our venue required any liquor brought into their venue have the NJ state seal (it's a state tax seal that covers the bottles).  So we were not able to use alcohol brought in from the VI at our wedding (we did use it for the pre-wedding parties though).






    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. 
  • lyndausvi said:
    mrose88 said:
    lyndausvi said:
    Ours cost about $3000.    We had 145 guests with only 7 not of drinking age.   We come from a big drinking social group.    We also stocked 2 top shelf bars, with lots of options.   We were able to return any unopened bottles.  


    We could have done it much cheaper by providing less options and not having premium brands.



    ETA - we were also in South New Jersey.  Location will play a roll in costs also.
    This is helpful, thanks!

    What sort of place did you go to find your booze? Do people use Costco for this sort of thing, or are there, like... wholesale liquor warehouses? Is that a thing? 
    Our wedding was OOT.  We were in contact with a local liquor store via our venue who helped us out with prices and amounts.    We also got a discount for buying so much.  

    Others on here have used Costco or similar type places. Stock up wine at Trader Joe's on sale.  Stuff like that.   It can depend on your state laws.  Some states you can only buy liquor at state stores.  Other states you can buy any alcohol just about any place.  Most states are some where in between.  Beer and wine at some stores.  Hard liquor at others.    Shop around.      

     I lived in the USVI and could buy liquor for very cheap and bring up to 6 bottles (each person) back to the states.  However, our venue required any liquor brought into their venue have the NJ state seal (it's a state tax seal that covers the bottles).  So we were not able to use alcohol brought in from the VI at our wedding (we did use it for the pre-wedding parties though).
    I am soooo jealous that other people can walk into a Costco and purchase alcohol...I know they are starting to change the legislation, but here in PA we don't have that option (yet).  Right now supermarkets and convenience stores are just starting to carry 6-packs...
  • lyndausvi said:
    mrose88 said:
    lyndausvi said:
    Ours cost about $3000.    We had 145 guests with only 7 not of drinking age.   We come from a big drinking social group.    We also stocked 2 top shelf bars, with lots of options.   We were able to return any unopened bottles.  


    We could have done it much cheaper by providing less options and not having premium brands.



    ETA - we were also in South New Jersey.  Location will play a roll in costs also.
    This is helpful, thanks!

    What sort of place did you go to find your booze? Do people use Costco for this sort of thing, or are there, like... wholesale liquor warehouses? Is that a thing? 
    Our wedding was OOT.  We were in contact with a local liquor store via our venue who helped us out with prices and amounts.    We also got a discount for buying so much.  

    Others on here have used Costco or similar type places. Stock up wine at Trader Joe's on sale.  Stuff like that.   It can depend on your state laws.  Some states you can only buy liquor at state stores.  Other states you can buy any alcohol just about any place.  Most states are some where in between.  Beer and wine at some stores.  Hard liquor at others.    Shop around.      

     I lived in the USVI and could buy liquor for very cheap and bring up to 6 bottles (each person) back to the states.  However, our venue required any liquor brought into their venue have the NJ state seal (it's a state tax seal that covers the bottles).  So we were not able to use alcohol brought in from the VI at our wedding (we did use it for the pre-wedding parties though).
    I am soooo jealous that other people can walk into a Costco and purchase alcohol...I know they are starting to change the legislation, but here in PA we don't have that option (yet).  Right now supermarkets and convenience stores are just starting to carry 6-packs...
    Same here in NC!! I'm from a state where you CAN buy alcohol at Costco and every time I go to my local one I think crap, I can't get booze here.

    We DO have a Total Wine & More and they will return unopened bottles (I think in all US states besides GA), if that helps OP or any lurkers. Our sells beer & wine, but we have to have separate liquor stores and I'm almost positive I've seen liquor in TW&M stores in states that don't have a stupid ABC board. They also frequently have coupons or sales & usually give volume discounts.
  • You just have to shop around. My dad owns a liquor store in Maryland but he gets special requests like this all the time. Ask if they return unopened bottles. Ask if they do case discounts on wine or liqour.

     If the answer to both is yes make sure to keep your reciepts. My Dad is not a jerk but if he doesn't know you he wont just take your word for it (had a few cases of someone buying a case for 10% off, then return a few bottles for regular price.)


  • Thanks, all! I never would have thought to ask about being able to return unopened bottles, etc. I live in MN where liquor laws are more stringent, but we at least have separate "stores" at places like Costco and Trader Joe's where we can purchase it. 

    Thanks again!
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