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Colorado Wedding Planner: How much? Planning for alcohol at your wedding

Posted by on May 15th, 2014

So, you’re having a wedding! And you want to serve alcohol. Finally a fun part of wedding planning! Also, confusing, and potentially expensive.  Questions about alcohol (what kinds? how much? where do I buy it?) are some of the questions I get asked the most by my clients, because if you’ve never thrown a party for a hundred or more people, all of a sudden providing them with libations can feel overwhelming.

Whether you’re just budgeting or actually purchasing it on your own, the tough part is deciding what to serve and how much of it.  Fortunately, the numbers that will help you plan already exists.  And I tried to make them pretty 🙂

picture of chart

On average, your of-age guests who partake in the activity of drinking alcohol will drink one alcoholic beverage per hour of your reception (or event) for a reception taking place on a weekend evening.  Keep in mind that this is on average.

You typically know your guests well enough to know whether or not that statistic will ring true for them.  For example, when my husband and I got married we had about 1/4 of the guests who didn’t drink, 1/4 who we knew would drink under that average, and about half that we knew would blow that average out of the water…as in double or triple that…so we made adjustments in our numbers to account for that.

Here’s how the servings of different alcoholic beverages break down, in prettier form:

Picture of a chart

I would suggest talking to your bartender and asking him or her to use a jigger (alcohol measuring cup) to get the most bang for your buck on alcohol.

What kinds of alcohol should you offer?  Let me say first that you do not have to serve a full bar, it is perfectly acceptable to offer just beer and wine or beer, wine, and a signature drink.  At it’s most basic, a full bar is two beers (one light, one darker), red wine, white wine, champagne, vodka, gin, whiskey, tequila, rum, and basic mixers.

As for where to shop, in Colorado I generally recommend Applejack Liquors, Costco, or Argonaut Liquors. That said, local wine stores are fantastic, and while they may not keep large quantities on hand, are probably going to be totally happy to special order a few cases for you. You’ll also probably get more personalized service, which may make up for the discounts you might otherwise get from the mass-quantity sellers.  Also, always ask if you can return any unopened bottles.

I hope this helps you solve all of your wedding day drinky dilemmas!




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